The Woods

by James K. Sayre

Many of us, especially guys, remember a woody area in our neighborhood that we frequented as kids. Here are my memories.


We moved from Ridgewood, New Jersey to western Pennsylvania just before Christmas in December, 1949. Initially, my parents rented an apartment in Castle Shannon. After several months, they bought a house in Mount Lebanon, a nearby suburb. We moved there in the spring, where I had my third different school for second grade. That summer, when I turned eight, I began exploring the neighborhood. My big discovery, which I called "the woods," was a steep area of three or four empty lots in a row, which were nicely overgrown with trees and vines and shrubs. The woods were located on the other side of Hazel Drive from our house and were halfway down the hill. I quickly discovered some blackberry brambles and when the berries ripened, I was quick to bring a container and gather them. Finally, the whole family got involved in this activity.

There was a Hermit Thrush that lived in the woods and sang some beautiful flute-like songs in the spring.

A few years later, about the time I was in high school, the woods began to be filled in with new houses. I didn't think much about it at the time; my brother and I wandered through the partially-built houses, smelling the new smells of construction and collecting the coin-like punch-outs from the electrical circuit boxes. You had to watch your step because there were holes in parts of the unfinished flooring.




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