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Sun Jun 5, 2022, 01:27 AM

More original writing...I need the practice


One of the main places of fun and frolic was the ditch, which was located on the other side of the dead end fence on Faxina Avenue. It was a creek (stream maybe?) in a huge dirt field lined with eucalyptus trees. The ditch was Y shaped. One end ended right in front of Nogales High School. One end culminated at the beginning of a concrete flood control tunnel. The final fork located itself right before Nogales Street as it headed toward Rincon Intermediate.

To say this was a central location in the lives of the local children would not be an exaggeration. It was a hub of fun adventure and personal growth. The kids learned and grew by pushing themselves physically. An acquisition of lifeskills that will follow them through their lives: perseverance in the face of physical and psychological obstacles.

The Ditch was a multi-use playground created by Mother Nature herself. It is long gone now, of course. Nothing that perfect lasts forever. It was paved over many years ago. It’s now just concrete and asphalt as far as the eye can see.
But in its time it produced adventure and joy for the children stout enough to venture into it’s legal boundaries.

There was a farmhouse with a barn, old dark and decrepit. The word was if the farmer caught you trespassing he would fill your ass with rock salt. In reality no one ever saw the farmer, or any sort of farm activities. As we all know reality is not the strong suit of most children.

The main activities that took place were: catching tadpoles. Hunting for crawdads: collecting them in a bucket taking them home and eating them. Many used the opposing banks as stand-ins for Evel Knievel type stunts. Many a child crashed and burning attempting the leap on their Schwinn Stingrays. And finally, though certainly not comprehensively, many children ran through it, sometimes as fun, sometimes as the simplest route to school and sometime as escape from rivals. Leaping from one bank to the other, scrambling up the side of steep dirt walls, running through water, it rivaled any obstacle course ever created for the preteen boy.

As you approached the area you could smell the eucalyptus leaves as they swayed crackling in the breeze. Sometimes the muddy silt offered its own unique aroma you could only catch on hot summer days. The fork by Nogales HS had a small patch of pussywillows. Brown soft appendages that looked like feline tails waved in the air. The kids would sometimes cut off the top sections and beat each other in sword fights as the soft ends would leave no marks.
The opposite fork that ended as the concrete wash began was a scarier prospect. It had a huge metal grate that could be lifted and children who had never seen the clown telling them, “They Float” would squeeze into the darkness to see what they could find.

The ditch was the ideal route to go to Max’s Liquor Store. Michael, Johnny, Timothy, Marty, Ralph and most of the Lochmere boys would travel that route extensively. Max took deposit bottles, so the kids would gather as many empty soda bottles as they could and march on down to collect the bounty.
We could see the look of exasperation on the clerks face as we walked into the doors. A whole clutch of mud covered boys carrying glass bottle in trade for real merchandise. It was probably not their most favorite site.
But, Max and sons were not mean or overly cantankerous. Once the exchange of modeled glass for nickels dimes and quarters was finalized they were glad to see booty would be spent in the store.

We would wander the aisles like predatory wolves looking for prey. Only to pounce on the items that could satisfy our hungers and simultaneously fit our budget. After we had stocked up on Big Hunks, Coca-Cola and Comic books the path back to the ditch would beckon.

The most memorable events that took place at the ditch were the dirt clod fights. One faction of boys would cross another, words would be exchanged and next thing you know fist sized lumps of dirt would fly through the air and may the best clique triumph.

For the children the ditch was a place of high adventure, discovery and human tragedy that can only be experienced through a child’s eyes. The frogs, the Eucalyptus trees, even the dirt clods striking your chest would become cherished memories. It was only a matter of circumstance that I was there, and I miss it greatly.

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Reply More original writing...I need the practice (Original post)
Steerpike Jun 5 OP
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