"Let's go play"
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written by Ron:
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          Kids used to play in the streets – with their neighbors, in front of their houses, in plain view of mom and dad. Weekends would find kids playing catch, throwing a scrungy old football around, pretending they were their quarterback hero. After school, until the mothers called “dinner is ready,” the streets would be filled with kids of all ages, throwing and batting balls, playing hide-and-go-seek, roller skating, shooting marbles, jumping rope and sometimes getting into minor troubles. 
          There were chalk marks on the pavement, indicating home plate and the three bases. Foul lines were often the length of the gutters and a row of parked cars. Anything hit past the old Buick was a foul ball. 
          Jumping rope was fun and (little did anyone realize it) aerobic. Only the best got to do “double Dutch.” 
          Over on the best part of the sidewalk the girls were playing hopscotch (boys rarely participated). The artsy girl would take her chalk and draw the hopscotch squares and if the neighborhood was upper middle class or beyond the squares were in different chalk colors. And each girl would have her favorite marker – most of the time their favorite key chain. 
          Boys and girls would be playing dodge ball together, learning some of the differences between the sexes. 
          Quietly, but enthusiastically, testing their hand-eye coordination, were the girls playing Jacks. 
          There were no supervisors or recreation leaders. Parents peered from their living room windows, making sure that there was an absence of hostilities. 
            Summertime was glorious. Kids could spend every waking hour playing in the street. When they tired of baseball they could wander over and join the dodge ball game. It stayed light until 8 p.m. and that was about the time that some of the parents would wander outside and maybe share an iced tea or a beer. Neighbors would actually know each other. 
          Every summer day was a block party (without the food). Kids got to “stay out late.” They learned about different religions and skin colors and most of the time neither mattered.
          Summers brought together the younger kids and the older ones on the street. Kids couldn’t wait until they “graduated” from “that little kid” to the teenager who could run faster, throw harder and maybe even kissed a girl once.
          The streets are empty now. Impatient drivers don’t want to slow down or stop for kids playing. Kids are inside watching television or clutching their cell phones. Too often both parents are working. If the kids play it’s in an organized activity with an organized adult leading them. They can’t get bored with one game and go play another. They have spiffy uniforms and they look like miniature big-leaguers. They’re out playing soccer in full uniforms – boys and girls. 
          I just wonder if they’re having as much fun as their parents and grandparents did. Their was a certain charm in walking out your front door and having a couple of the neighborhood kids say, “Hey, wanna go play?”
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