Friday Favorites 4/18/2014
This will be a do it yourself Friday Favorites. No, you won’t have to bring your own Favorites, you’ll just have to choose from the Favorite things hiding in this nostalgic ramble. My family moved to East Haven, Connecticut the summer before I started fourth grade, which would make it 1952, I believe. My Dad worked two jobs to purchase a modest ranch style house on Bradley Street. Behind the house was an unused hayfield and beyond that, The Woods, as in, Mom, we’re going to go play in The Woods. In my memories it seems like there were miles of woods but I know from personal experience how the scale of things changes when you go back as an adult. In my running days, I was visiting my Dad and Mom (yes, in that same house) and decided to take a run to downtown East Haven. It had seemed like a long way on my bike at ten but I hadn’t even broken a sweat when I ran there in my forties. The point being, when I went to Google Earth to see how far The Woods extended … it was under a mile.
Still, for a neighborhood full of boys, The Woods were better than any playground and fortunately we lived there before the birth of the Helicopter Parent, that is, our parents actually let us go off to play in The Woods. We even camped overnight on occasion. If you want to know what it was like, rent Stand By Me, the 1986 film based on Stephen King’s novella, The Body. In case you’re wondering, I’d be Gordy. We had a penchant for naming places. There was Polliwog Pond, a puddle that was full of polliwogs in the spring and frogs in the summer, unless it was a dry summer. There was The Arrow Patch, a field of reed-like plants that we used to make arrows for our homemade bows. There was The Railroad Tracks, a particular place where the trail came out to the tracks of the New Haven Railroad emerged from the Fair Haven tunnel. It was the perfect place for boys to do the sort of dangerous things boys do when there are no adults around, including getting caught in the tunnel on a dare. Yeah. Like Stand By Me.
And then, there was Indian Cave, a pile of boulders at the top of a hill that formed a large room with several narrow passages that were perfect for squeezing through on dares but impossible for adults. I think it’s safe to say that most any trek into the woods included a stop at Indian Cave. It was dark and dank and over the years, we occasional encountered a few very odd … and scary … characters there, which added a bit of creepiness to the awesomeness of having our own cave.
As an adult, I once hiked back to Indian Cave. Sitting on the rocks that seemed smaller than I remembered but still gave me a funny feeling in my gut. I didn’t have a camera along to take a picture … this was well before smartphones. My childhood friend, Charlie, tells me, Indian Cave is gone, destroyed by development, something I’ve confirmed on Google Earth. I’ve searched in vain online for pictures and although there are lots of Indian Caves, our was just a made up name. There are even some similar boulder-piles called Indian Cave like this one in Guilford, CT**. Judges Cave in New Haven is similar, too, and a historical site because several judges hid from the British there during the Revolutionary War. But our Indian Cave lived on in my imagination, at least until my brother, Glenn, posted this picture of himself and two friends peering into the mouth of the cave. Their expressions capture exactly my memories of the place.
So, it’s Friday and you’ll have to find a Favorite on your own in this ramble. Hints? Iconic places. Growing up in Simpler Times and Simpler Places. Home. A nostalgic photo. A movie. Go ahead. You choose. I’ll just sit here and be nostalgic.
** image courtesy connecticutexplorer.blogspot.com