I was born in a world locked in the Great Depression and later engaged in a world war. Though we were fortunate that the horror of battle had not come to our shores, the war did take the lives of many young men in the old neighborhood. The fighting ended the day before my 11th birthday. My parents had worried about what life would be like for their only child in a world apparently gone mad, but with peace came hope for the future.
For us kids, life was about playing baseball in the street, riding our bikes, playing kick the can in the alley or hanging out in front of the corner drugstore. And those friendships built on the streets of Chicago have lasted a lifetime. Life is beautiful indeed.
Most of the kids in the old neighborhood lived in two-flats. We lived on the second floor of one of those front-to-back flats. The Longo family owned the building and lived on the first floor. Mr. Longo made wine in the basement, and when he wasn't making wine he made uncomfortable lawn chairs. I didn't know him very well, since he didn't speak English, but he always had a smile on his face and would nod hello. Mrs. Longo was like a grandmother, and she made the world's best pasta. I had many a meal in her kitchen. Her son John gave me my first haircut. The Longos and the other neighbors watched out for the kids in the neighborhood. It was if we were family. We were.
We now live in a townhouse community in Silicon Valley. For many years this had been an adults-only community, but now it has become a place for families of all ages-and what a delight it is. We now have 17 young children living here. Being treated like adopted grandparents is a real kick.
We often wonder what life will be like for these children in a world even more threatening than it was in our day. But all we have to do is watch and listen to the children riding their bikes in the street or playing in the pool to realize they are making friendships that will last a lifetime. And for now, life is beautiful.
We are fortunate indeed.
When Frank isn't enjoying the sounds of children at play, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.