Ever seen old 50's Boy Scouts TV commercials w/a little lost girl? Yeah, it was black and white TV but this little lost girl had oddly ash blonde/gray hair and squinty blue eyes. This little not lost girl was me ... always rescued by an Eagle Scout. How did I love them? Let me count the ways!!
Seeing as I lived in NJ until between 7th and 8th grade, I can say with great certainty, I remember a LOT about it and only need to see TV commercials about NJ before I start saying things like, "daul" for doll and "dauwg" for dog. And I can MORE than snap a few z's.
But the first thing I remember about Greenbrook Road, is not the house, but the property. Although I had graduated from a "closet" in my parents bedroom in Westchester, in NJ I had a proper bedroom all to myself, complete with a closet of my very own and a window surveying My Land. Yup. We owned an acre of land/woods right there in North Plainfield, NJ and it might has well been a forest preserve as far as I was concerned.
Although my front yard was a mere three blocks from the infamous Route 22 and I was lulled to sleep by trucks zooming up and down it all night, it was literally out of sight, and therefore out of mind. Heavens knows, I was NOT allowed to go in the front YARD let alone cross the STREET so other than my bedtime "white noise" I only knew that Route 22 contained my favorite restaurants: "The Leaning Tower of Pizza," an A and W Root Beer place where they really DID hang a tray on the driver's side window, and the infamous "Howard Johnson's" with their 28 flavors of ice cream and killer grilled cheese sandwiches. Oh. And on the other side of it was Berkley Heights where my friend, Virginia, lived.
But most of all, I was a land owner. Ok. The daughter of a land owner. Said land was divided into three sections behind the house. The "circle" which really was a semi circle of grass complete w/requisite flower border and ginko trees separated from the "back yard" by a winding gravel driveway that came off the street, ran past the side of the house, and around the back where one could drive into the two car garage ... separated from the house by a breezeway. But most important ... were "The Woods." More importantly, MY woods.
I can honestly say there wasn't a single day from age four until 12+ when I didn't pull up my back window shade and literally gasp with awe. Jersey has hellish hot summers with humidity enough to make even my stick straight hair suggest a curl, but the pay back for that was and is exquisite springs, mild winters, and "Indian summers" that went on until Thanksgiving. Every day I gave thanks for my woods.
For the longest time I was not allowed in them alone nor even allowed to walk across the gravel driveway into the "backyard" lest I get rambunctious and dare play in the creek that bordered the property and meandered through the woods. And, quite honestly, I didn't disobey ... my own sense of guilt for disobeying as a child was enough to keep me in line, let alone the reminder of the discipline that awaited me if I didn't. It wasn't for nothing my brother called me "Good Girl."
Because I was.
So. I did the best I could with the devil on one shoulder and thoughts of being smacked with a belt on the other. I sat on the edge of the gravel with my feet planted in the "backyard" (which was really just mowed crab grass.) I'd hunch my legs up to my chest and rest my chin on my knees and plot. When the time was right, I was gonna OWN those woods.