The following was written by me in the 1970s when I took over compiling the BEACHY BANNER, the elementary newsletter published by mimeograph by the school my children attended in Arleta, California. . I began writing about my experiences as a volunteer at the school, working in Mrs. Ranslow’s first grade class. After we moved farther away from Beachy School, I would drive the children to and from school; having a little extra time waiting for school to end for the day, I began volunteering in the first grade classroom.   The following was one of my first columns which I called “REFLECTIONS”

We passed an empty lot the other day. It had a big chain link fence all around it and large signs ominously warning that trespassers would be prosecuted. It’s hard to find an empty lot nowadays.  There just aren’t any.

In my father’s boyhood, the empty lot–usually one at the corner–was a source of a great deal of entertainment. Boys got up baseball games. They played kick the can and run sheepie run.  In the winter time, they would build up a big bonfire and hang around it to keep warm.  Amazingly, they never got arrested for building fires in the empty lot.  It was generally accepted that empty lots and young boys belonged together.

There were still a lot of empty lots to be found when I was a child in Ohio.  There was one particularly large empty lot  down at Denim street,   at which festivals and carnivals would be held, sponsored by various local organizations.  The rest of the year, we would search painstakingly through weeds  and brush, our efforts sometimes rewarded with the finding of a half-buried coin or trinket left over from the last carnival.

My favorite empty lot stood at the corner of Pulte street (one block over from Sutter Street, where I  lived) On this corner there were a barber shop (where we traded comic books) and a saloon.  There was this big empty lot behind the two buildings, a portion of which was paved with a smooth cement.  It was a most ideal “skating rink” in the neighborhood and we would skate around in circles for hours, pretending to be at real skating rinks.  Sometimes we even had roller skates on. There was always something to do at an empty lot.

I sighed as we passed the chain link fence with its no trespassing signs.  “It’s such a shame that the empty lots are gone” I said.

“Is that a singing group?” one of my sons inquired.

“What happened?” his younger brother asked. “Did they die?”


Sandra Lee smith

Originally written February, 1977 – True story!!

*If this is something enough of my readers enjoy, I will continue telling more of my “Reflection” stories.  Let me know!! — sls

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