The Desidarios, first house on the right, have built a small gathering place between the house and the stream, with chairs and a fire pit. There was nothing more fun than when the Desidarios came up on summer weekends and we were in Willow visiting my grandparents. We rode bikes, swam, and tubed morning until night and it was a precise recipe for long-held perfect summer memories. I was so happy to hear that the house is still in the family and that the kids and grandkids of my childhood summer friends continue to build their own memories.
Mrs. Toby’s house looked different. More and thicker landscaping, maybe another building? Mrs. Toby was old when I was a kid. Older than my grandparents. She was the only full-timer in the neighborhood on the party line. One ring for us; two for her.
The Desmond's house seemed lower or smaller to me, and a different style. They were another of the summer families with kids; Bruce and his sister. Bruce was a tough kid. He would get sent home occasionally. He always pumped too high, pulling the foot of our swing set, with its little concrete footings, out of the ground. One time he got his hand caught in one of the chains and ripped a couple of fingernails too short and bled all over everything. The Desmonds had a really cool treehouse, just a partially covered platform on the edge of the dirt road of a country 1-mile oval. There was a nail sticking out that scratched a deep four-inch long groove into my back as I slid down the wall. The scar today looks like something awful happened.
I learned how to drive on that oval. We had a late-forties Willy’s jeep, a vehicle so awesome it needs its own chapter. My older brother taught me. He was 12 at the time and had been driving a few years. The clutch was stiff but I was a strong kid, and I still remember the magic of the throttle and the feel of the steel start button. Man I wish I had that jeep today.