I lived in Enid, Oklahoma when I was in elementary school. It was the 70s and I wore plaid pants. (My mom dressed me.) I walked a few blocks each day to Hayes Elementary School and played in “the ditch.” If there was a movie like “The Sandlot” about my childhood, it’d be called, “The Ditch” ’cause some of my greatest memories from those days (K-6th grade) are from of the things we did there. Here’s a list of those memories:
Rock fights – There was a section of the ditch that was full of rocks. W used to build “forts” with them and then throw rocks at each other. I never said we were smart. (My brother got stitches in his lip once as a result.)
Sledding – When the ditch filled with snow, it was perfect for sledding.
Bobsled rides – In the place where the drain pipes (from under the streets) entered the ditch there were concrete sections which would fill with snow. We carved paths through these sections to make our own bobsled runs.
Wind & Frostbite- Sledding in the ditch is the first place I ever got the wind knocked out of me. I hit a bump with my sled and lost it. I also remember falling through the ice at the bottom once. It was only a foot deep, but my whole body was frozen. (OK – not really, but I can still remember the “heat” of the cold water in the bathtub when I got home.)
Cardboard Rides – When the grass grew tall enough in the summer, cardboard worked as well as a sled.
TG&Y – Mom wouldn’t let us walk most places, but when were got old enough, she allowed us to walk the trail by the ditch to go to TG&Y (like a dollar store today) to get Star Wars Cards and candy. I actually still have a full set of Star Wars cards. (I need to put ’em on ebay to see what I can get.) The trip to TG&Y was a huge adventure to us – sort of like the journey in the movie “Stand By Me.”
Crawdads – In the summer, we caught crawdads in the little creek at the bottom of the ditch.
Tunnels – From the ditch, we entered and crawled through the drain tunnels which ran under the streets of our neighborhood. It was our way of facing our fears – like exploring the caves in “The Goonies.”
Some other memories that weren’t in the ditch:
We had rubberband gun fights in the cul-de-sac where we lived. We jumped the back fence to go play with Jeff & John Schlarb. Zhan Stephens also lived behind us and he had a pool in his backyard. I remember how great our neighborhood was for getting candy on Halloween. I had a fishing birthday party at Meadowlake Park and took golf lessons in the summer. My dad helped coach little league football and t-ball. We also played basketball at the YMCA and went swimming there in the summer. I always bought “Hot Fries” in the vending machine at the Y. (Strange what we remember huh?)