Childhood and Stray Tires

Reading this Atlantic piece brought to mind a memory of the El Paso, TX streets when I was a kid in the late 60s and then 70s. My friends and I would find stray tires. We’d roll them to the top of a steep street and let them go and watch. They’d bounce against parked cars, the occasional fence, walls. Most everyone understood that there were kids stalking the neighborhood.

It wasn’t all rosy. Most everyone understood that too, least of all us. Guess what we did with the discarded but not-so-empty box of Benson and Hedges. We’d be called for dinner, enter and eat, then leave again. We rarely saw parents, and when we did it was like encountering exotic wildlife.

Childhood culture. Here’s an added feature: since we were out so much, we knew who to avoid; we knew where the strange people were, who’s dog would bite, what house or region was off limits. We knew the gang signs.

That doesn’t mean everyone survived.