In Sioux Falls, in the Hilltop house, there were the Bosslers across the street. There was Myron down the street--a kid my age who I used to wrestle--and there were other kids whose names I no longer know, whose faces I can't even recall. And then in the 2nd House in Sioux Falls there was the girl who lived next door--the one who always cut her toe in our sprinkler--and, again, there were other children whose names and faces elude me yet I can recall them hanging around and playing around the house. But when I was five we moved out West to Vancouver, Washington.
In Vancouver we moved into a new house on a small street--Enid Avenue (though it was not a true avenue, just a little street--not far from George C. Marshall Elementary School). Already living there at the time were the Alvicks, next door to us, with Bobby and Cathy and Mark--their ages roughly the same as us (Oldest Brother, Second Oldest Brother and me, then Sister and Youngest Brother--Bobby was my age, Cathy older, Mark younger). They became our best friends. Across the street were three brothers--the youngest as old as me--but they rarely played our games. Those boys were a little rough, a little serious when it came to games, though I used to "fight" them (fighting consisting of wrestling and shows of strength), but they were okay kids. Then to our left a new family moved in with two older boys and a younger girl. I think her name was Liz and she joined our group. The boy--whose name I can't recall--was Second Oldest Brother's age and he goofed around with us some. Really, Second Oldest Brother didn't play with the rest of us as much either--he often did his own thing, had his own set of pals. One of those pals was Mike Gust, who did not live in the neighborhood, and Mike would come over quite often. We went to his house as well. Mother was not all that fond of the boy--"THAT Mike Gust" was how she referred to him--but we did many things with him and sometimes his older brother, Lynn. Then Joey Hanes moved down the street (Joey was from Albuquerque--which sounded exotic to me) and he was in my same grade (the Alvicks went to the private, Catholic school) and class at George C. Marshall and we became best friends (though that friendship was tested when we both liked Kathy McKay in 2nd grade and she liked me in return). There were others--some boy who moved into a house behind us, it was a big house with an intercom system. There was a kid--Robert, I think--who lived around the block, a friend of Oldest Brother, whose last name was different than his mother's: she was divorced and had remarried or some such. And there were others, school friends (Dale didn't live too far away, he had white hair--White Hair!--at the age of six), but the main neighborhood gang was who we spent the most time with, them and That Mike Gust.
Then we moved to Tennessee.
At first we lived in, or just outside of, Jonesborough. There was a small boy next door who had a cat named Mr. Whiskers and who called poor behavior "ugly": "You're acting so ugly." He had a thick accent when he said it, too. There were a couple of kids next door that we played with some. This was all out in the country, really, though there were plenty of houses, along a rural road/highway. There was a kid named Judge down the road a ways--nice kid. There were some bad kids who tried to steal our bicycles. My best friend (for a while) lived a few houses down, but I can't recall his name. He and I tried to walk home from school once--maybe about ten miles, or longer, and my mother had to search for us. Then there was Rocky and his brother Stoney (I'm serious, these were their names). Rocky was in my grade, Stoney younger. They were shy kids, small, Rocky was picked on at school and I came to his defense, which was how we became friends. He was a good, sensitive kid and he lived a few houses down from us--I think they had an orchard. This wasn't a defined neighborhood like in the midwest or most cities or suburbs and people had ersatz houses and big lots of land--a few acres. We even had a an acre or so of woods on our rented property. Then we moved into a brand new house closer to Johnson City where my father worked at the V.A.. Here, in this new, small development, were new kids. Probably my best friend at first was Kent, who lived up the hill. But there was Maryellen and her sister down the hill and across the street, there was this little kid named Foy (FOY!) who would lick spit up in the street and was deathly afraid of masks. There was Kurt up the hill who was a liar and a delinquent, there was another boy up the street who could kick the heck out of a football (except once he missed, fell down and had the wind knocked out of him) and there was the mysterious girl who lived up, past our street, in a trailer on the land where there was a cave. And down the hill and across Antioch Avenue, a few people moved in to the otherwise empty development: Greg and his sisters Lisa and Joy, the boy Bobby who had a glass eye and his sister. I was always in love with either Lisa or Joy or Maryellen. There were a handful of others and, of course, friends from school. Two boys moved in next to us who I hung out with--but can't recall their names (Joey and his older brother?). But between ourselves and the neighbor kids, that made up our core group, our everyday group, wherever we lived.
Then we moved to Iowa and it was 1970 and things were different. My older brothers--and I--weren't such little kids anymore. We were still kids, but adolescence was taking its hold. So, that's different, friendships were different, family life shifted as well.
In Iowa--Des Moines/Urbandale--childhood (at least my definition of it) came to a close.