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Childhood Memories of Walking to School in the '60s

Updated on July 26, 2017
Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok has an interest in exploring interesting and unusual adventures, and he writes about it in a way that you can experience it too.

I'm going to give you an idea of how you can get in touch with your childhood memories while at the same time getting some walking exercise.

If you have the opportunity to actually go back to where you grew up, taking a walk through your old neighborhood can revive hidden thoughts that linger in your subconscious.

This can actually help you bring back and make sense of lost memories. This process may enlighten you with a better understanding of your life.

I did it by taking a walk in the neighborhood where I grew up. I’d like to share it with you to show what you can learn from the experience.

Take a Walk With Me

Sidewalk along the street where I grew up.
Sidewalk along the street where I grew up. | Source

A Walking Challenge

I'm an avid hiker and I walk 3 to 6 miles a day, so one day I was thinking about the time when I used to walk to school. My High School was only a mile from my childhood home.

I remember it used to take me 20 minutes to walk to school. Sometimes I took the bus. Sometimes I rode my bicycle. However, many times I just liked to walk to school in the morning and back home afterwards. That was about 50 years ago, and decided to experience that again.

My Childhood Home
My Childhood Home

Down Memory Lane

So, I drove to my old neighborhood and parked my car by the house where I grew up. I got out of my car and first looked at that familiar house, remembering many fond experiences in and around that home.

Then I started on my journey along the sidewalk, following the same path I took almost 50 years earlier.

The sights and sounds were very familiar, as if nothing had changed. Basically it was the same homes, cars parked along the same streets, the sound of a bus going by at times, and birds tweeting in the trees.

The lawns and shrubs were well-kept and trimmed just as they were back in the days when I had been growing up there. Whoever lived there now continued to take great care of their property.

Familiar sights and sounds bring old memories back into focus.
Familiar sights and sounds bring old memories back into focus.

Life doesn't just happen to us. We make it what it is.

I lived in a well-to-do neighborhood, but didn't have any idea of what that meant when I was a child. It became clear to me, as I walked along, that I'm greatful for the choices my parents had made.

Every little decision one makes in life has a tremendous effect on one's future, and even more so on the future of their children's lives. We tend to take this for granted.

Most of us never even consider how we got to where we are now. We never know the reason for our existence and the part we play on the lives of others and the world we live in.

I became aware of the fact that we design our own lives. Life doesn't just happen to us. We make it what it is, with the choices we make, with the friends we keep, with the places we move to and live in, with the interests we develop, and with the person we choose to be with as a team partner through it all.

A lot changes as life goes on. The trees in my old neighborhood got a lot bigger.
A lot changes as life goes on. The trees in my old neighborhood got a lot bigger.

What We Can Learn from Trees

As I continued walking along, I noticed that the trees were bigger, some much bigger than I remember.

Trees show us the power of perseverance. They grow quite a bit in 50 years. And they basically survive through harsh winters and intense storms. I began to get in touch with feelings of my own perseverance.

I continued walking block after block, thinking about the years that had gone by, what I accomplished and what I failed at.

A mile is only about 20 city blocks. It takes about 20 minutes to walk a mile at a normal human pace of 120 steps per minute.

It dawned on me that the same applies to everything we do or attempt to do. We take baby steps with everything we wish to accomplish. The steps add up minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, day-by-day, and year-by-year. We can accomplish our goal. No matter what it is, it gets done. We just need to walk the walk.

We just need to walk the same old path to bring back memories.
We just need to walk the same old path to bring back memories.

Choices People Make

As I reached the halfway point, I noticed I was passing the home of a childhood girlfriend. I wondered if she were still there. I thought about what she might look like now. Would I recognize her? Would she recognize me?

How silly, I thought, to be thinking of such things. After all, 50 years had passed. Most certainly she would be long gone from that neighborhood, living somewhere else in a new life, with new friends, possibly with a family of her own.

Thinking more along those lines, I thought about other friends who once lived along the path I was walking. I was wondering:

  • Where were they now?
  • How had their lives changed since those high school days?
  • What experiences did they have?
  • What choices did they make?
  • What struggles did they have since I last saw them?
  • Did they survive?

Remembering Those School Days

I remember those tall windows of my school. We had long rods with hooks to open the top of the windows.
I remember those tall windows of my school. We had long rods with hooks to open the top of the windows.

School Days

I'm now only a few blocks away from my old school. My thoughts turned inward as I applied the same thoughts to my own life, as if I had removed myself from my body and observed myself, judging my life’s decisions.

I suddenly realized the wisdom of my thoughts. I'm looking at my past from the present. Analyzing my prior decisions with the clarity of my present state of mind.

It came to my attention that what I had been missing all along was the idea of doing it the other way around.

I've been using my present state of mind to analyze my future plans based on the options I had along the way. I should have changed my thoughts to a different perspective.

I could have considered the future based on what I wanted to make it, without limiting myself to present options. It took me 65 years to figure that out! If you can change your thoughts, you can actually change your life!

Here I am. I made it to my old school. It looks the same. I walked around the entire school and envisioned myself entering and leaving through the large steel doors that looked so familiar.

Change Your Thoughts - Change Your Life

Memories, good and bad, of the playground where I hung out in my teen years.
Memories, good and bad, of the playground where I hung out in my teen years.

One last thing I needed to do. I walked through the playground where so many things happened in those days. The social activities. The basketball. The fights. Yeah, there were bullies in those days too. I wonder what happened to them. They probably got themselves killed by now.

Oh yes, the girls! Can't forget the girls. I was shy in those days, but one trick I had was making eye contact. Once I got that, the conversation started.

The Return Path Back Home

Time to head back. Another mile and I'd be back to my car where I left it.

As I walked back, I took a different path. I remember that I used to do that when I went to school. I used to like having a change of scenery rather than taking the same path all the time. So I would walk along different blocks. It was still only a mile, but with different results. Hey, kind of like real life, don't you think?

I had a few stumbling blocks in my life, but I made them into stepping-stones.

— Glenn Stok

© 2015 Glenn Stok


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    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 15 months ago from Long Island, NY

      AudreyHowitt - I guess that means summer is over. That's another childhood memory of school. I used to count the years by the summers that went by.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 15 months ago from California

      Came back to read this great article--you know school has already started in California!!

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 15 months ago from Long Island, NY

      Faith Reaper - I'm glad you enjoyed taking this walk with me Faith. The image of that woman in the wheel chair that you remembered from your early days is very profound. To think that she is the same person you saw as a little girl decades earlier. I'm sure there is an emotional story behind that and it would make for a good article about her life if you could start a conversation with her and get permission to write about her life.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 15 months ago from southern USA

      Wonderful article, Glenn!

      I truly enjoyed walking with you along your neighborhood streets to school and back, with all the thoughts it provoked in your mind. It is a great idea you have come up with here from the perspective of today going back in lieu of starting in the past and going forward.

      Your childhood neighborhood is lovely and what a beautiful childhood home!

      I haven't done the walk through my young childhood neighborhood, but I have driven through it and, surprisingly, it did produce a lot of forgotten memories. My mind almost could not comprehend, as it was so surreal to me, when I saw the same girl, who is now an older woman, still sitting on her front porch in a wheelchair, just as she did when I was a young child! She was still there in a wheelchair. My brother told me her parents passed on long ago, and I wonder who takes care of her. It really blows my mind to think she spent decades (her entire life) sitting on that front porch watching life pass her by sad in my mind. It's still hard for me to even fathom such! I hope somehow she found some sort of happiness in this life. When we were so young, we did not understand handicap children or persons and she could not even speak in a normal voice, but would make loud sounds which kind of scare us little kids, just because we did not understand. I do hope she had some friends during her lifetime though. We never starred at her or anything when we walked by her home, but we hurriedly walked by, and I believe our little minds could not comprehend a person having to live her life in a wheelchair.

      This is a fantastic idea for a hub and I really enjoyed reading.

      Good job!

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 22 months ago from Long Island, NY

      gerimcclym - Thanks Geri. You're right. Some people are afraid to tap into their past for that reason. This is why the brain filters out bad memories and it's hard to get in touch with things from our past that affect us today. I actually wrote about that in another hub.

    • gerimcclym profile image

      Geri McClymont 22 months ago

      Great article. I think sometimes we are afraid to tap into our past but even the painful memories can inspire the best writing if we have the courage to go there. This was a great read and thanks for sharing.

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 2 years ago from Long Island, NY

      MsDora - I see you got what I was intending to accomplish by writing about it. Thanks for that review of my hub. You should write about your own experience you had when you brought your daughter with you. I'm sure that sharing the visit with your daughter brought more meaning to the experience than just going alone as I had done. In my case, I just had my own thoughts in my head to remember my past. I can imagine the power of having another pair of eyes, and having them ask questions about things along the way.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

      Glen, I enjoyed the walk with you through your old neighborhood. I did something similar with my daughter when she visited, but I never even thought to write about it on HubPages. I like your commendation for your parents about the choices they made also the lessons you learned now that eluded the childlike mind. Great presentation!

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 2 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Very interesting hub. I had a visit to my childhood home, school and lanes in the year 2009 after a gap of 39 years. The lanes were the same, even the buildings changed and people changed. The school that I studied in early 1960s changed into a modernised building even the boundary walls were the same to the side of railway track from where we used to climb up the walls and pick fruits from their gardens. It was a great refreshment of old memories.

      Thanks for sharing your hub and freshening the thoughts of my walk in 2009.

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 2 years ago from Long Island, NY

      B. Leekley - I actually use Google Street View many times when I want to check out a location before going to an unknown place. It works basically the same a Google Earth.

      I have to say that I don't think one would get the same benefits as I had experienced. The whole idea of having old memories come out of one's subconscious would not happen when doing the walk virtually.

      When I actually walked the streets and passed the houses of old friends, I was able to have the reality of touch and feel that you just would not get virtually. Plus, I had my camera with me and was able to take pictures that I used in this hub.

      Interesting thought though. But like you said, you wouldn't get the exercise either.

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 2 years ago from Long Island, NY

      brakel2 - You moved far from your childhood home. So I understand that it's not as easy to re-experience it. I'm lucky, I guess, that it's less than 100 miles for me to go back there and take that walk with my camera. It's good that you stayed close with your friends you made in high school. I wasn't so fortunate. And one whom I did stay in touch with became a very toxic person, although there were clues already when we were young. I actually wrote another hub about that a while back. Be well Audrey. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 2 years ago from Long Island, NY

      AudreyHowitt - That sounds nice. I wish I lived in place where everyone knew each other.

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 2 years ago from Long Island, NY

      tsmog - I'm glad you felt like you were following along on my walk. That's how I intended it when I wrote it.

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 2 years ago from Long Island, NY

      denise.w.anderson - That's great that you got to visit with long lost friends when you revisited your old neighborhood. None of my childhood friends live where we grew up. Everyone moved all over the country. I only stayed in touch with a couple of old friends.

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 2 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      I wonder if a virtual hike using Google Earth would have similar benefits, aside from not getting the exercise.

    • brakel2 profile image

      Audrey Selig 2 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Hi Glenn - Your background is so familiar to my life and so amazing. The only difference is that my parents were poor, but we made it. I liked the walk to school, as my walk was much the same, maybe a little longer. The scenes brought back memories, and I wish I could walk the walk. My hometown is over one thousand miles away. I have high school friends who still reminisce with me about the good old days. I am sure many folks will enjoy this hub about memories, as I did. What a great, but simple, idea for a hub. Sharing. Blessings, Audrey

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 2 years ago from California

      I loved this--we grew up in a neighborhood in which we knew all of our neighbors. And we live in that kind of neighborhood now--

    • tsmog profile image

      Tim Mitchell 2 years ago from Escondido, CA

      Thank you for sharing life discoveries with your walk. I enjoyed being along with you while I smiled realizing the truths you shared. I will be pondering those those more with my memories of a similar path walked, even though a different neighborhood.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 2 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      Taking a trip into nostalgia lodges the memory banks of our brain and helps us work through some of the emotions that get stuck and stagnant. One time, I drove back to my childhood home and visited with long lost friends and relatives. It gave me some perspective on the difficulties my family went through when we left the area, and enabled me to get in touch with my roots again. It resolved a lot of issues for me.

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 2 years ago from Long Island, NY

      Jodah - Your comment was very interesting to read. I'm glad to see someone else had the same idea. Sounds like your childhood homes went through more changes than usual. In your case, however, those changes are much more meaningful. It tells a story about how things can have enormous change throughout time.

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 2 years ago from Long Island, NY

      letstalkabouteduc - That's an interesting comparison that I had not considered. Local education does indeed give children the ability to walk to school, or take their bicycle. I agree that the exercise provided by this helps them learn more readily. Interesting observation of yours.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

      I loved this article Glenn. I had the same idea a few years back. I revisted three places where I used to live as a child. We moved around a lot with my dad's job. Two of the homes I lived in were in country towns and had been transformed, one into an artsy crafty store and the other a restaurant. I did walk from one of them along the path to my old school, and from the other to a rain forrest park close by where we kids used to play. The other house was in a different state and a large city. I found the school I attended, but try as I might I could not find my way to the house I lived in and could not remember the address. I was only seven or eight at the time and 50 year old memories wouldn't help on that one. There is a great message in this hub and we all need to take note and reflect how we have lived our lives.

    • letstalkabouteduc profile image

      McKenna Meyers 2 years ago from Bend, OR

      I see a movement in many parts of the country to return to neighborhood schools. That way every child can make the healthy choice to walk or ride her bike to school. There are studies coming out showing students who walk to school are more mentally prepared to learn -- makes sense! Love the hub, Glenn, and love that old childhood home, too!

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 2 years ago from Long Island, NY

      mactavers - A guided tour of your school! What a wonderful experience. I would love to get to see the inside and walk the halls where I once passed through going from one classroom to another. You gave me an idea, I should check to see if mine will have a 50th reunion with a tour. For me, that's coming up in three more years.

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 2 years ago from Long Island, NY

      Reynold Jay - That's the reality of our time, that some neighborhoods that were once great are in decline now. Sorry to hear that that happened to the place where you grew up. But I'm glad you enjoyed this hub.

    • mactavers profile image

      mactavers 2 years ago

      I loved your Hub. Last year was my 50th high school reunion and we had a guided tour led by honor students. While many buildings had changed, some didn't and I had fun remembering teachers and friends that I thought I had forgotten.

    • Reynold Jay profile image

      Reynold Jay 2 years ago from Saginaw, Michigan

      IT's a great idea; however it will not work for me as that neighborhood is a crime zone.

      Years ago (65) was a different time and place. Well done piece of writing that I died so very much enjoy. Keep these gems coming.