Remembering the New Bedford Version of ‘The Wonder Years’
Do you ever drive by the old neighborhood to see what it looks like now? If yes, do you slow down as you pass your old house to see who lives there and if they've taken care of the old place? Do you park the car and get out to take a walk around? Check the old tree on the corner to see if the initials you carved into it are still there?
Okay, you've caught me being nostalgic. The truth is I've done all of those things and more. Many of you probably have as well.
As a kid growing up in New Bedford, my parents moved frequently. We mostly lived in the North End of New Bedford, but I remember a house on Rotch Street in the West End that we rented for one summer. My brother and I were supposed to go to the Hathaway School that fall, but by summer's end, we moved again.
My family lived on Summer Street, Yale Street, Weld Street, Myrtle Street, and Blaze Road. Perhaps the home I remember most fondly and consider my "wonder years" home is the first home they ever purchased on Brook Street.
Brook Street is where I came of age. I kissed a girl for the first time while living on Brook Street. I smoked my first cigarette and had my first beer there, too (don't tell my parents, I'm not sure the statute of limitations has expired yet). It's where I saw the men walk on the moon and Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy assassinated.
We rode our bikes in the laundry parking lot we called Yankee Stadium around the corner on Central Avenue. We climbed trees, swam in the backyard pool, and muddled our way through our preteen years. I drive by that house from time to time just to think and remember. I'd love to go inside and see my old room.
My wife and I raised our kids in the first and only home we've ever owned in the North End of New Bedford. Though we no longer live there, we still drive by now and then to see if the Japanese cherries are in bloom and the yard maintained.
That house was my boys' "wonder years" home. I wonder if they will drive by now and then and slow down to see who lives there and if they've taken care of the old place? I hope they do.
In which neighborhood and on what street did you spend your "wonder years?" Have you been back? Does it make you smile?