THE CHANGING NEIGHBORHOOD
by Floriana Hall
When we first moved to Clifton Avenue in Akron, Ohio, in 1960, my husband and I were the proud parents of four small children, two boys and two girls. In our previous neighborhood, there were not any four year old girls for our youngest daughter to play with but there was one four your old boy. Our other three children all had someone their age and gender with whom they played.
The day we moved into our new abode, October 2, my 33rd birthday, we all tackled the job of getting everything in order. After scrubbing down all the walls and unpacking the boxes, we deposited the empties on the back porch. Well, that was like an invitation to play to all the four year old little girls in this new neighborhood.
All of a sudden, there were five little girls jumping in the boxes. They had called our four year old young charmer, Mitzi, out to play. She was delighted. It was not easy getting them to go home after dusk, though, but somehow we managed. They all lived very close by.
Of course, having so many friends brought trouble at times. Mitzi and one of her new friends, Belinda, argued a lot and sometimes pulled each other’s hair. They made up rather quickly. However, after the tiff, Belind's mother usually appeared at my back door and complained that it was all Mitzi’s fault. Somehow the mother and I remained friendly and so did the girls.
I thought it was a blessing for Mitzi to have some children to play with outdoors. At that time, playing outdoors was the thing to do. There were no toys such as handheld video games, Blackberries or cell phones. Children spent time playing in the fresh air and sunshine. Viewing television was reserved for one or two hours at the most in the evening.
Our two sons were friends with twin boys who lived across the street. On one occasion, all four of the nine and ten year old boys were walking on our roof while I was putting new tile on the first floor bathroom. After I heard the footsteps, I rushed outside with glue stuck to my hands to reprimand them. The next day, they all climbed up on the roof of the twins’ house and were scolded by their mother. They decided to stop climbing on the roofs but had some trade offs with jack-o-lanterns at Halloween.
Our eldest daughter, Candace, always got along with everyone, and played mostly with a girl her age across the street and two others down the street. Amazingly, all four girls are still friends although they all moved to other neighborhoods, some out of state.
Our new neighbors were friendly. We even met once a month in different homes to play cards. We sat together outside while watching the youngsters play. My husband and I had a fifth child, another girl. There were two girls near her age who lived next door. The three youngsters played nicely together for years until their family moved.
Of course, during the course of time, this neighborhood has changed. People moved out to purchase larger homes or for various other reasons. All the children have grown up and have families of their own. At the present time, there are very few children living in our neighborhood.
During the transition, we had some wonderful neighbors. One from across the street used to walk over to sit with us and chat in the warm summer days. Sadly, she passed away five years ago.
We now have neighbors across the street and next door who are very helpful when we need them. Somehow it seems like the flavor that was there in 1960 is missing, though. Times have changed, along with the neighborhood.
One thing that warms my heart is the fact that this is a safe place to live, and one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Akron., Ohio. Clifton Avenue is a melting pot of what America stands for including its Italian heritage minced with Japanese, Chinese, German, English, black, white, and various other nationalities and religions.
If you drive down our street, you can see many U. S. flags flying every single day, not just on holidays, and very few 'For Sale' signs. We are blessed with everything we need right here and now. Thank God for our family and for our neighborhood!