The trail leading from the James house to the Hough’s residence cut through a small forest–probably just a wind break–full of chinaberry trees. They dropped china berries which we used to pelt each other in china berry fights. I steered clear because those marble-sized things hurt when they hit you. I enjoyed that small trail because I would walk it, pretending I was Little Red Riding Hood or Snow White. I loved to walk through woods, pretending the trees in their different positions created rooms of a house.
There was a large thorny growth on the other side of the property that lent itself well to playing house, as long as I avoided the thorns. I liked to collect the small toys from boxes of Cracker Jack and I had a favorite plastic clown that I lost somewhere in the backyard. I searched and searched but never found it. I always wondered what happened to it.
In the front yard was a large cedar tree that I actually climbed. Now cedar trees are not the most friendly tree to climb, with their peely bark and stickery leaves. But they do offer loads of privacy. It was fun to sit in that tree knowing that no one could see me. If I tried that today, my allergies would have me in the hospital. Back then it was a great hiding place if you didn’t mind a few scratches.
The James house property offered lots of opportunities for us kids to play outdoors with its sandy long driveway, plenty of trees, and picket fenced yard. We made lots of memories there. We lived there when Mama took us to swimming lessons at the city pool. I also lost my first tooth and experienced the boring wait at the neighbor’s beauty shop.