I have mentioned several times that in our Prytania Alley neighborhood the parents had sired 60 children (30 in my age range). I thought I’d take the time to perform a test, to see if I could mentally go around the block noting each child’s name and perhaps a quick note about each. Were there really 60? Starting up at the corner of Ridgelawn, moving up the street and then working clockwise, let’s see what I can come up with.
The Singhoffers – I’m not sure if I’m spelling this correctly, but let’s go with it. They had David who was my age. He could throw a football harder at you than anyone else in the neighborhood and in high school he must have had the fastest car on the West side (you know the type with dual carburetors coming through the hood). The other Singhoffer was Jeanie – I don’t know what she looks like today, but for awhile there she was a secret fantasy girl for all the neighborhood boys. She was kinda’ sexy looking and always aloof. That she wanted nothing to do with us I’m sure made her all the more desirable.
I have to skip about 3 houses now to get to the Joneses. The Jones moved in a little later after we did. The parents were younger than mine but well on their way to baby-making. They had 4 when they moved in and a 5th while living there. I and several other kids made nice with Mrs. Jones, (and no as far as I know, no one had a thing going on with Mrs. Jones). All I remember of the kids’ mom was that she seemed pretty cool. She had a good sense of humor. The oldest girl was Mary Paige. MP was I think 2 years younger than I. She was a very attractive girl, had cute dimples, very sweet too – I think she ended up marrying Rich Mathews who was her age and lived just down 2-3 more houses.
Skipping down then the next 2-3 houses and we have what I’d consider the most ‘solid’ family of the block – the Mathews. Mary & Bill Mathews were what you might call your typical old-school, run of the mill Catholic families. Bill worked hard at the local paper mill, Champion Papers, and you could see him walking back and forth to work down the Rhea Avenue hill to the mill on any given day, metal lunchbox in hand. Mary seemed to be a great mother. She interacted with all her children and with all of us who were their friends. She was a regular church-goer, had a great sense of humor and a tremendous sense of duty. When Kim & I were married, Mary attended the service and represented the family. She brought us a GE, (American-made), hand mixer that we still use today, 35 years and ticking. Mary had 10 children and I used to be able to name them all. Let’s see – Steve, Karen, Marcia, Jerry, Diane, (read me)Tommy, Rich, Chris, Betty (bossy Betty Diane called her), and one other older one I think (Emily?).
Next door to Mathews was an older lady who had a granddaughter named Teresa Grevey that lived there with her. That’s all I remember for Ridgelawn. Down at the corner at the end of Prytania were two older boys with the last name of something like Greisel (I only remember Billy). Next to them were Maus and I think they had either 5 or 6 kids. Nick was featured in Bucking the Pecking Order (read me). Nick and Chuck both played baseball with us. Lisa was my sister Lori’s age I think.
After Maus was Polaski’s who had 2 boys. Mark was a year younger than I and he had an older brother. They had a collie who seemed to have a litter about every other year and when she did, we’d go down to play with the pups. Mark’s passion was for kicking a football, that was his thing, that’s what he liked to do. I don’t remember ever seeing Mark’s mom. Some parents were like that – some interacted with us and some did not.
Up a couple of doors then came the Beckman 9 kids. Beckmans were 8 boys and 1 girl. Jeff was my age, Terry a year younger and Mike 2 or 3 more years younger. Steve was a year older than Jeff and then I remember Sherri, the only girl. Obviously we’re into the bulk of the Prytania kids – most of us were clustered in the middle of the block.
Next to Beckmans were the McMahans. Gary, Gail, Randy, Tari and Donna. Our family kids were close to the McMahans except for Gary and Gail who were older. Randy was featured in Bucking the Pecking Order (read me), Stupid Things We Did as Kids and Lived to Tell About (read me) and Feeding the Tree (read me) which also featured Tari. Russ was a big, somewhat soft spoken man, but when he got angry, the kids all paid attention. Kate, (Katey as I liked to call her), was a hoot! Kate had a great sense of humor and seemed like she was always laughing. We kids all loved Kate.
Next up and next door now to us were the Withrows – Carla who used to babysit us on occasion, Jo Ann who was referenced in Diane was not a Green-Eyed Lady, (read me) Tim and Mark. Tim was my brother Steve’s age and Mark just a year younger. If I’m not mistaken, both Tim and Mark died at a fairly young age.
That brings us to my family. If you are reading this from a larger computer screen, you can see an old photo of us all in the background of my blog. We were the Brady Bunch style family. I was the oldest then Steve, Toni, Joann, Mike, Bobbi, Felix, Lori and Janelle. We used to refer to the last 3 as the “Little Ones”. A favorite phrase we older kids loved to utter each night was “Little Ones, bedtime” (the Little Ones hated that).
I’m not certain but someone might have had a child or two in one of the next couple of houses, but up next in my recollection were the Hardins. Steve was my age, Tim was my brother Steve’s age, then Dick and lastly the baby girl, Beth. The Hardins were a red-blooded baseball family. Beginning with the father, Charlie, and moving all down the male line, all boys were above average ball players. Tim had a bout with alcohol and I am fairly certain it ended up taking his life.
Lastly then I think that brings me to the Doles. Dick was my brother Steve’s age and there was an older boy who I think was two years older than I. Both of these boys loved football and never got into the pickup baseball games.
How many kids is that? Sixty on the button I think and 61 if we give Maus 6 kids. And that my friends was the incredible Prytania/Ridgelawn neighborhood. I suspect those without children hated it….for they might one night fall prey to What’s that Smell (read me) or some other evening prank. What a great place to grow up at though for us kids!