I was raised in the Cobbs Hill neighborhood in Rochester, New York. Notice, I didn’t say I grew up there. Big difference!
Eastman Kodak was still a vibrant company, the very foundation of the city. Nobody had yet heard of digital cameras, let alone the global marketplace.
A quick two-minute walk from my house took you to a bridge over the trolley car that traveled to downtown Rochester.
During summer vacations from school, we kids gathered outside on our bikes, banished from the house by our parents, with nothing but a sandwich bag- lunch. “Whattaya wanna do?”
“I dunno, whatta you wanna do?”
Good thing for us, Cobbs Hill was just around the corner. And what a bee-hive of activity it was. We rode down a path to one of the giant fields where we saw dozens of other kids sitting in a circle around a group of adults, each with a badge on his shirt. “Hey, guys, welcome! Come and join the fun.” Little did we know that we were about to join our first summer day camp. No sign-up sheets. No rules. And no homework! If you enjoyed yourself the first day, you came back the next day. If not, no big deal, tomorrow was another adventure.
“Pow-wow time,” the counselors announced. We had nothing else to do, so why not? We learned all about the Indian tribes native to our part of the country. The Cayuga; Iroquois; Oneida; Onondaga; Seneca; Tuscarora; and, Mohawk. Then we each joined a tribe in preparation for the day’s games. After a quick bag-lunch, we learned what turned out to be our absolute favorite game. It was called ‘Capture the Flag.’ You’d be amazed at the ingenuity and teamwork this game required. There were never any arguments. It was all about teamwork. The best part? All these years later, I still remember the names of the Indian tribes of Western New York. To this day, I am a proud member of the Mohawk tribe.
Every day was a different adventure, since every Cobbs Hill field hosted different activities. Summer Olympics. Baseball. Soccer. Half-court Basketball. Each one focused on the necessity of teamwork. Each was a learning experience. Each started and ended on the same day. And each and every one was pure fun. We kids needed no motivation to escape our houses early every morning, bag-lunch in our bike baskets. We became friends with kids from other neighborhoods. We learned together, played together, grew together. And today, I’m left to wonder if kids have these same opportunities in their neighborhoods. When you get right down to it, is there even such a thing as a neighborhood anymore?