Memories and musings: suburban loneliness – The Coastland Times

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By Gene Gallelli

After I was released from active service in the Navy – my ship’s home port was Little Creek, Virginia – I accepted a sixth-grade teaching position at Orchard Park, New York, home of the Buffalo Bills.

My fiancee and I lived in a beautiful apartment in Buffalo for two years – our first daughter Lisa was born there – before building our “dream house” near West Seneca. It was in a large subdivision with three house styles made different by shingles, siding and different brick facades.

Our second daughter, Tara, was born about a year after we moved into our gray, raised ranch with a colonial brick facade.

Not only was every lot in our yard filled with one of three styling options, the neighborhood had twice as many school-aged children as there were houses.

It wasn’t long before a handful of these aforementioned children became legendary and gained a reputation for their exploits:

“Cowboy Joe”, who always wore his boots on the wrong foot, collected building materials and lawn statues. I saw him dragging a two-by-fours past our house at dusk.

Across the street, “Ice Cream Curt” was attacking garage freezers of popsicles and frozen treats, but only the flavors he preferred.

Probably the most famous of the Munchkin crowd was a five-year-old whose four-letter vocabulary was looked down upon by parents in the neighborhood. My wife and I thought our daughters would never listen to “bad” language, then one Saturday morning our youngest went wild with a classic from her bedroom window. Like many shocked parents, I made the mistake of asking, “What did you say? And, of course, she repeated it.

Last but not least of the street “terrors” was our firstborn who even made sidewalks dangerous with his Ferris wheel – remember that? – she got for Christmas. Lisa had three speeds: fast, faster, and faster. “Careful, Lisa!” has become another familiar neighborhood song.

Maybe we tend to glorify the ‘good old days’ as a gripe on modern day dilemmas, but it can be so relaxing to look out the front window and imagine my daughter flying on her Ferris wheel or’ Cowboy Joe ‘dragging a two by four down the street.

I always have popsicles in the indoor freezer, even though we don’t have a Curt living nearby; and my youngest could sometimes let out a word worthy of blushing, but never through a window.

It’s funny how, on second thought, the silly childhood behaviors of our now adult children evolved into funny and endearing memories.

Life is Beautiful.

Gene Gallelli was Assistant Superintendent of Schools in Dare County for eight years. He received his doctorate in education from East Carolina University, where he taught and supervised students to become school administrators.

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