Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Dangerous Childhood

I first posted this on The Zees Go West, way back in 2007, but it really belongs here on the Remember blog. I've added a few photos from the family archives. 


When I was a child in the 1940s and 1950s, our neighborhood in San Francisco was noisy with the shouts and cries of the children who lived there. We rode our bikes, we roller-skated, we played dodgeball, and we played jump rope. We raced on foot, on bikes, on scooters, and on skates. We took our skates apart and used the wheels on various invented riding vehicles.

When we moved to San Francisco in 1945, we lived at Hunter's Point. My father worked at the shipyards and my parents saved up money to buy the house on 48th Avenue. Here I am, playing outside with my faithful companion, Pete. When no one was watching me, I ate dirt. 

In quieter moments, we sat on stoops and played jacks and pickup sticks. We collected rocks and cracked them open on the sidewalk, always searching for that elusive geode.

We played every sort of game of “pretend” that we could dream up, most memorably something called Covered Wagon, where we used a sturdy wooden gate as a wagon seat for the lucky wagon-driver-of-the-day, while the rest of us hunched down behind him in the “wagon” bed as we traveled west. We took turns playing good guys and bad guys, riding pretend horses and shooting at each other with our cap guns.

Playing in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, probably around 1947

We ran, we skipped, we hopped, we jumped, and we turned cartwheels. We fell off our bikes, my sister’s foot got caught in the spokes of my bike when I gave her a highly illegal ride on the back fender, my friend Skippy broke his arm roller-skating, and Trudy’s little brother broke several things when he discovered that he couldn’t fly off a second story porch. It was an exuberant, vigorous, and yes, somewhat dangerous life, at least by today’s standards. 

In those days it was just what kids did all day until called in for supper.

My first bike. This was taken at our house in the Sunset District of San Francisco, at 1323 48th Avenue. We lived just a block from the beach, but we kids weren't allowed to cross the street.


  1. Really enjoy the 'remember' pics-- we must have the same genes for remembering way back when we were very young. I just have to dig in those dusty boxes of photos for the 'evidence' of those days.

    Also thank the one who took the pictures then-- they didn't have digital cameras then --so had to shlep to the drug store or photo shop for developing etc.so it was a whole procedure.

    Now I thought the wdding photo of you and Bill was very cute and timely-- just think no wrinkles !!! and lots of hair --I would give anything for 1/3rd of that growth now !!!! Tho you and he must have gone to the same hair salon for the cuts and perms !!!!!


  2. Adorable pics! The little pursed-lip grin with the bike is too cute. We had a dangerous childhood, too. We climbed trees and when we didn't think we'd get caught...climbed up on the roof! Wild, wild little hellions we were...


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