I was probably about eight or nine years old when my family moved from Westwego to Marrero, Louisiana. As mentioned in my previous Sharing Memories post, the subdivision in Marrero was fairly new when we moved there. Several vacant lots were available on either side of our house.
When a lot was sold and ready to built upon, dump trucks unloaded red clay dirt for the foundation of the new house. With a huge mound of fresh dirt nearby, my siblings and I became pretty creative in ways to use the dirt for our playtime benefits. For example, the dirt mound made a perfect hill for jumping our bikes. We posed ourselves several feet from the mound and quickly pushed our pedals as we gained forward momentum then rushed up the mound. At the top of the mound, we sternly pulled up our handlebars and popped our wheels to make a crash landing on the dirt pile below. It was all fun until the day I had my first bicycle wreck. I lost control while gaining forward speed. My bike slammed into a wooden crossbar, causing me to flip over my handlebars and land on the concrete sidewalk below. Big Ouch!!! I was dizzy and hurting. I could barely stand up. Of course, I went crying to Mom, blood oozing from both my legs and elbows. As she cleaned my wounds, the damage was visible... I had terrible open abrasions on each knee and each elbow. She put ointment on them and bandaged them well. I could barely walk for a few days without a great deal of pain. Needless to say, I was much more careful on my bike afterwards.
From the tall dirt mounds, Frank Jr. and I also played "King of the Hill". I'm not sure if this was a common game among kids back then, but we sort of made our own rules up. Several of us would gather atop the mound and wrestle with each other, competing to gain control of the hill. We would push and shove, kick and squirm until one of us was left standing and this officially made the winner the King of the Hill. When we were finished playing in all of that red dirt, we were pure filthy. I wonder how often Mom scorned us beneath her breath while she was trying to remove the red dirt stains from our clothing.
|Too bad these shirts weren't available when we were|
children- it would have made Mom's laundry job much easier!
Sometimes we would create sculptures from the red dirt by scooping out the clay clumps and forming them into some amusing little people. When we grew tired of doing that, the little clay people were rolled in our hands to form balls which we threw at each other. My sister, Sandy, was quite satisfied as she sometimes sat at the bottom of the dirt mound with her plastic cups and spoons, filling them up then emptying them out, over and over again.
Frank Jr. liked his "G.I. Joe" figures and accessories. He spent a lot of time on the mounds with his little friends and their GI Joe's. They would dig holes in the mound and pretend to be in a war zone. By the time they were finished playing, they looked like they had been in a war zone ;)
As the neighborhood became filled with new houses, the dirt mounds slowly disappeared. Within a couple of years, we had to find other ways to amuse ourselves. And that, we did.