Seven Blocks Of Freedom: Walking To School

City Games, Part 2


“Do you have your lunch?”


“Watch out for your brother.”

“I will.”

“Call me at work when you guys get home.”


James and I say goodbye to our mother and race out the back door. In the movie of our childhood (still to be made), the bridge from Aretha Franklin’s “Think” fills the autumn air: “Freedom, freedom, freedom, FREEDOM!”

We love walking to school. No parents, no teachers – just seven authority-free city blocks between home and Robert F. Kennedy Elementary School.

Is my best friend Chris coming up the street to meet us? (Yes.) Will the sometimes-untethered German shepherd down on Moorland Avenue – we call him Killer – attack us? (Not this morning, thankfully.) Is my grandfather’s car in his driveway as we walk by? (Yes, as always.) Do we have pennies for the bubble gum machine at Haskins Pharmacy? (James does.) Will Mr. Siravo’s one-eyed dog, Charlie, successfully navigate the tricky intersection of Smith Street and River Avenue? (Yup, always does.) Will we? (Yes.)

One block from school, we stop at the playground for a game of kamikaze on the swings. We swoop and soar until we can go no higher and then tug on one chain to dive-bomb each other. Last one sitting wins.

Riiinnngg! The first bell. We run from the playground to the school yard. There’s still time for a couple of races. Down to the chain link fence and back – go!

Riiinnngg! The final bell. Teachers appear, lines form, shoulders slump. Chris and James fall in with their classmates, I with mine. In the movie of our childhood (still to be made), some kids hear strains from Chopin’s “Funeral March”. For others, including me, it’s the Looney Tunes jingle: “That’s all, folks!”

When I get to Miss MacDonald’s classroom, I see the day’s schedule written on the blackboard. One word stands out like a gold star on a homework sheet: Recess.

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PM JONES September 30, 2012 at 11:00 PM
I, too, would walk home for lunch. Took @ 12 minutes. Mom had a sandwich ready, and we would watch the original Jeopardy with Art Fleming & Don Pardo. When the music began for Final Jeopardy, it was time to leave & I had to wait until I got home from school for Mom to tell me who won.
John Walsh October 01, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Ah, Jeopardy before Alex Trebek -- I remember!
Leave RI October 01, 2012 at 03:40 PM
When I had 1/2 day Kindergarten the TV watching was limited to the Doctors, The Edge of Night etc..I couldn't get my a.m. kids shows until the weekend when..yeeesss ready..wait..Rex Trailer and boom boom Boomtown.
Leave RI October 01, 2012 at 03:43 PM
..and the walk was worth the wait for my milk and PBJ..I went from the PBJ to the bologna in the first grade since I apparently ate like a caveman and would wear a lot of the "J".
John Walsh October 02, 2012 at 02:02 PM
I requested PBJ for my last-day-of-school lunch – always the best!


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