Saturday, March 27, 2010

Kids on the Loose

My sister wrote this story a while back about what it was like walking to and from school in Globe, Arizona when she was a little kid.  I really liked it.  Everything she says in this story rings true for me.  Even though there are nine years between me and my sister, we both had a lot of the same experiences.

Kids on the Loose

When I was a kid growing up in Globe, we always walked to school.  From kindergarten on you walked.  Unless you were one of the "wealthy" kids . . . then you were driven in a car.  The rest of us walked though.  My friend and I always managed to be late for school because on the way there was always a myriad of distractions to keep you from your mission, which was just to get yourself to school by 9:00 a.m.

When I started kindergarten at Noftsger Hill School there was a bridge on Devereaux street that went across a canyon near Nob Hill Grocery Store.  The bridge is no longer there, and I'm sure it's better that it's just a regular road now.  I remember my friend and me attempting to walk across the outside of that bridge just by hanging onto the railing.  It was thrilling to say the least, and undoubtedly one of the stupidest things we'd probably ever do in our lives.  We'd get about 10 feet out and look down into the abyss of the canyon, and then make our way back to the sidewalk thrilled at our bravery.  A block away from that, near Bailey and Sutherland, was a footbridge that is still there today.  A few years ago I took my son out onto it and I marveled at the fact that there was not real covering on the sides to keep you from falling to certain death.  As a child my friend and I also went across this bridge, both on the part you were supposed to walk across on and, of course, along the outside . . . daring nuts that we were.

The "Witch's House" on the corner of Tonto and High was another distraction.  I suppose that we called it the witch's house because it was old, black and somewhat ramshackle.  The woman who lived there was also old, wore black, and only spoke Spanish.  Lots of kids said she was "casting spells" when she spoke to us, but in hindsight she was probably just saying, "Hello", and "How are you doing today?"  There was always a ton of rocks on top of her porch roof, from the brave kids who threw them at the house.  The extent of my bravery only went so far as to say, "Hello", and then to quickly run away.  Her house is no longer there . . . I don't know what happened to it.
Occasionally on the way home from school we'd stop to "smell the flowers" and end up swiping a few roses or anything flower-like from someone's front yard.  If we did this on the way to school our teachers would be the lucky recipients of a mangled, half-dead flower.  One time (well, at least only one time that I recall) we decided to do a mulberry stop on our way home.  This entailed climbing up a wall that was bordered by mulberry trees along High Street and Mesquite.  We tried to eat as many mulberries as we could grab without falling off the wall.  When we'd had our fill, I headed home, and my grandmother went up like a rocket when she saw me.  "I TOLD you to come STRAIGHT home from school!" she hollered at me.  I proceeded to swear up and down, left and right that I had done just that.  I had NOT stopped anywhere along the way home . . . then she whopped my bottom.  I ran into the bathroom to cry and it was then that I noticed my whole face was covered in purple stains from all the mulberries I'd eaten.  Grandma wasn't quite as gullible as I thought.

When I got older I switched schools and started going to East Globe.  There was a stairwell that went from East Street up to Sycamore Street.  This stairwell contained about a million stairs and was enough to keep you occupied for half an hour or more both on the way to school and on the way home.  Sometimes my friend and I would try to run up it, but that only lasted about 20 stairs and then we'd have to sit down and take a break.  While we were sitting there trying to catch our breath we would sometimes find a piece of cardboard someone had thrown there, and we could then ride that cardboard down the 20 steps we'd just run up.  Unfortunately, this didn't last very long because the stairs were concrete and the cardboard would get shredded pretty quickly.  Whoever hadn't been able to ride the cardboard down was mad.  So then we'd spend about 5 minutes or so looking in the bushes for another piece, and when that didn't pan out we'd just sit back down again.  It was at this point that one of us would realize we'd left our school books somewhere else and we'd have to go find them.  By the time it was all said and done we still had about 90,000 steps to go up just to get to the next street . . . and we were now officially late for school.

Globe was a great place to be a little kid when I was young.  The world was undoubtedly safer and it seemed like people didn't worry about things so much . . . at least I didn't.  As for my parents, and my grandmother, it was probably better that they didn't know all the stuff we did.  Especially considering all the things that there were to do just walking to and from school.

The only difference between my sister's experiences and mine?  The mulberries were pomegranates.  Otherwise, it was a lot of the same adventures.  Although, I'm pretty sure she was a lot more daring than I was.  I think that kids all around the world have similar experiences walking to and from school.  I know that when I walk my son home from school, we always have to make stops to look at bugs or spiders.  I feel sorry for those kids who always got a ride and never got to have those mini-adventures that my sister wrote about.

The pictures used in this post are by the artist Laurie Manzano.  Laurie owns and runs the Blue Mule Art Gallery in Globe and is well loved by my family and many others in the Globe-Miami area.  All of the pictures are used with her permission.  For more information on Laurie, to view more of her pictures, or for copyright permission, visit her website.  And, if you're ever in Globe, make sure to stop by The Blue Mule Art Gallery to stand in awe of Laurie and her amazing work.


  1. Great storey and wonderful photos

  2. I think probably all the pictures in this section are available as prints at Laurie's place. We have two originals at our house, one of which was a commission painting. We also have numerous prints. Her pictures invite you to climb into them and be part of the scene.

  3. This was an awesome find for me. I grew up only a few yards away from those epic stairs. Thank you for the fantastic blog post as well as the artwork! It really took me back.