Growing up on Pacoima Court, we were privy to a multitude of games. Why? We lived on a cul-de sac, and because of that, there were endless possibilities for safe recreation. Hide and seek, ball games, tag, skateboards and bicycling were a few of the many games we enjoyed.
A cul-de-sac is a perfect backdrop for any child. Rounded at the end of the block, balls didn’t go bouncing into never-never land, unless they ended up in the bushes, or landed in someone’s yard.
On Pacoima Court, our manhole provided a natural home plate. Playing baseball, sockball, and any other ball game came easily, with those white addresses on the curbs moonlighting as first and third base. There was a white cross with some metal device that sufficed as second base. To this day, I don’t recall why it was painted on the street. Maybe there was buried treasure beneath the asphalt?
During the holidays, our cul-de-sac was a place for touch football, my brothers, sisters and in-laws teaming up for a calorie burning round of passing, blocking, and general horseplay. On our block we could abandon ourselves to the game and not worry about traffic. We just had to make sure we didn’t go crashing into one of the many-parked vehicles when we’d go out for a pass. That was about all that concerned us.
Upon occasion, a ball would land in a neighbors yard. Next door to us was an old woman named Rosie Shaffer whose backyard had huge garden sporting a luscious coy pond, lily pads, and a variety of flora. At least once a week, one of the balls would splash into that pond, and we’d have to ask her for permission to retrieve our ball. I’m amazed at the endless patience exhibited by any person who lives next door to wild children.
The neighbor on the other side of our house was a monk named Jim Whitney, who designed pottery. Every now and then one of our balls would land directly on one of his newly thrown pots, and we’d hear the splinter of porcelain cracking. I don’t know if my mom paid off these neighbors when these mishaps would happen, but these people were saints in my mind, having to put up with us.
Unfortunately, a cul-de-sac doesn’t always provide much room for hiding. When coming home from Carpenter Ave. one day, I thought I’d test my throwing skills by hurling rocks at cars whizzing by on Laurel Canyon. One hit a car squarely on the passenger side of the car, and after gloating in my glee, I ran home to hide.
Had I lived on a longer street, I could have ducked between one of the neighboring houses and given the driver the slip, but stupidly, I just ran home. The owner of the vehicle must have seen me dash into the house, and soon there was a knock on the door. $11 dollars later, my allowance was used to touch up the paint on his car.
I have so many fond memories of our cul-de sac. Did you live on a cul-de-sac, and if so, what do you remember?