Mischief Afoot in the Fields of the Imagination


While growing up neighborhood fields were places of danger, adventure and where many a youthful misdeed was carried out. Bottles were broken, sticks sharpened and rocks thrown at discarded television sets.

Deadly bicycle jumps and ramps were erected from splinter laden plywood and rusty nails. Then came the taunts, dares and threats of being called a chicken if you didn’t go for it.  

Cigarettes were smoked, matches played with and tobacco chewed. All snatched from our parents or sneakily purchased from the vending machine inside the gas station while the attendant was busy pumping gas or cleaning a windshield. 

We hid evidence inside makeshift treasure chests stashed in the overgrown weeds while vowing secrecy and to never rat each other out.

Parental punishment was swift and merciless when we were caught coming home with guilty faces, our dirty bloodied bodies smelling of smoke and school clothes ripped and embedded with foxtails.

“It was in these undeveloped areas that we became pirates, spacemen and secret agents. The rickety tree houses and ramshackle clubhouses were our castles, ships and flying saucers.”

Forts were built from whatever wood scraps we could find then furnished and decorated with the curbside junk we collected during trash night.

When a dirt clod or water gun fight erupted those shacks were our protection. If an imaginary enemy or a very real neighborhood bully was spotted they were hideaways.

Inside these sanctuaries we feasted upon fruit pies and chocolate milk from the local markets as we plotted our next big adventure.

Growing up in the Valley during the 1970’s was not as bad as it was made out to be. In those vacant lots unsupervised creativity flourished while curiosity and imagination ran wild and free.

They were magical and exciting places where for a few hours after school or during summer break, we could pretend to be something more than mischievous kids living in suburbia. For us, those fields were anything but empty.

What do you remember about your childhood and the times in your life when you can tap into the creative imagination effortlessly?

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