The Old Neighborhood

TheOldNeighborhood

This is in Rock Falls. My house is on the top-right corner of 5th Street and 3rd Avenue in this
picture.

The names listed next to the dots are all of the young kids that grew up in my neighborhood.

(Note: This is part of a Blog entry originally written on July 7, 2013)

Two books of my 27-year life exist. The turning point is sometime in 1997.

Before that, there was a sort of magic that existed in me. One that made me able to get along with just about anyone, and have so much fun doing it. I could run around and talk. Given the fact that I had Asperger’s, which is meant to make socialization extremely challenging, the environment around me was able to swat that away.

Then when we had to leave that environment, the challenges were just too much. I acted like a sitting duck pretty much, with extreme shyness becoming my undoing within the social circles. It wasn’t completely destroyed, but there wasn’t that magic I once had.

For 16 years, I felt like that socialization magic I once had was sealed and buried somewhere.

When I was down, I’d try to go back and find that magic once again. That involved crossing the bridge.

***

In order to give you an idea of what my better times were like, I’d have to describe my old neighborhood.

I lived at 415 3rd Avenue in Rock Falls. The house was on the northwest corner of the intersection of 3rd Avenue and West 5th Street.

West 5th was a semi-busy street (and I think is considered part of a county highway). 3rd Avenue was covered with tall trees, with a mix of older, two-story frame or brick houses.

But what made the neighborhood special was all of the kids that ran around it.

On the 400 block of 3rd Avenue alone there were 4 Cutters, 2 Smiths, 3 Williams, 2 Risleys, 3 Limonds and 3 Mattoxes = 17. At any given time between me and Michael, there was at least one neighborhood kid over at our place every day it seemed like. Smiths and Williams moved away before we did in 1997. In my class alone there was me, Jared, Stephanie Risley and Mason Mattox.

Going to the school to play wasn’t much of a possibility when you had at least 20 kids around you at any given time, thus I didn’t always play there. All of that is also not factoring in my bikerides to other friends’s houses.

I had a very open backyard with only a couple of trees along 5th Street and a garage at the alley, which made for a great backyard baseball place. The alley served as a central artery of sorts between all of our backyards (including Hay’s, Fragd’s and Claudin’s south of us), as there were a couple of houses that had no kids (and thus didn’t cross those backyards). The alley did a little uphill as it let out on 4th Street, and that was where I’d make my way to and from the 1st and 10 sports shop near 2nd and 2nd.

Next door to Pinkstons (north of) is a larger house that served as apartments (“Home With a Heart” I think it was called). It had a larger yard which was covered by a low tree, and that served as a cut-across to 2nd Avenue. From Pinkston’s garage to the 2nd Avenue sidewalk was a stone wall that was flat across the top. I used to walk on it and run down the edge where the flat top curved downward to the sidewalk.

Perhaps one of the hot spots on our block was Hardy’s basketball hoop between Berogan’s and Pinkston’s. It sat along the alley and stood on a pole. We’d play with it when his friends (he was much older) weren’t there. When baseball or basketball wasn’t the thing, it was either the Sega Genesis or the Super Nintendo.

I also think of of the things that made this neighborhood a little closer than most was that most of us were not allowed to cross the extremely-busy 1st Avenue. I would cross it, but only to get my parents items from White Hen Pantry (later Grand Pantry). This kind of bounded most of us and we become closer that way.

It was really a great environment to grow up in.

I had three classmates within houses from me in Rock Falls (Jared, Stephanie and Mason), plus the Nance kids not too far away on 4th Avenue. Langley’s (Dennis) was two blocks away, Davis’s (Brendyn) was two blocks away, Wade’s (Ashley) was two blocks away. Insley’s (Dan) was three blocks away, and Yenney’s (Keelin) was three blocks away.

When I moved to Sterling, the nearest classmate to me was three blocks away (Sam Snitchler), with Sierra Skaff not too far away at three blocks away. Natasha Stewart and Stephanie Carter were five blocks away. The nearest male classmate was Brandon Frey (only for a little while, and five blocks away), and then Mo Spatz (six blocks). Later on, Rick Stone lived in (again, only for a little while) the same house Brandon once lived in

Needless to say, I was pretty much isolated from everyone else. The same couldn’t be said of my younger brothers. It just wasn’t the same for me, and I kind of felt lonely.

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