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Wednesday February 22, 2017
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Hit and Run and Monkey Blood

 

continued

So began the start of another night of fun and mischief in the west-side neighborhood my friends and I ruled in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Not far away on the U-M campus, headlines were being made by Vietnam War protests, John Sinclair and the White Panther Party, and the birth of the Hash Bash. But we were largely oblivious, wrapped in the safe cocoon of our quiet subdivision near Weber's Inn: fourteen asphalt streets; an elementary school; woods surrounded by fields; two lakes linked by a swamp; and a handful of empty lots. It was our own king-size playground. We played hide-and-seek and "witches"-our version of capture-the-flag-across multiple yards. We played ball tag using the entire school grounds, in all four seasons. On foot, by bike, in heat or snow, in operations overt and covert, we moved with a confidence born of knowing our terrain like the backs of our hands.

A vacant lot at Gralake and Lakewood hosted pickup baseball games, with well-worn base paths and a rocky but serviceable outfield. On a typical summer afternoon, games would begin with a handful of players and continue throughout

the day, becoming amoebalike as kids from the neighborhood would join in, the makeup of the teams in a constant state of flux. When the day finally came that our field was lost to a large backhoe digging out a future basement, we simply moved our game down the street to the next-best vacant lot.

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