Living at the end of a dead end street had some definite perks. We could ride our bikes in the road without too much worry of being run over by a speeding car. We could draw hop scotch on the pavement with chalk and it would last for days if it didn't rain. My best friend, Jason Roeder, could build "jumps" to ride our bikes over and place them right on the road, and nobody complained. Life was good.
There were perks for our parents as well. They were able to look out the window at any given time and see us. That is until we decided to venture down the road out of sight. There were so many things to do OUTSIDE the culdesac that staying in it seemed a waste of good daylight.
Sometimes we would ride our bikes down to Andy Cluphf's house (3 houses down from mine) and get him to come out and shoot hoops in front of Danny & Sherrie Grandlunds house. We would all make shots at the hoop playing "Around the world" or "Pig." I honestly don't remember actually playing a real game of basketball.... but intense competitions took place in front of that hoop nonetheless. On those days I would enevitibly hear the "whistle" from my mom or dad becconing me home for dinner or chores. I would jump on my schwin and ride the banana seat home as quickly as I could leaving Jason & Andy shooting hoops without me.
As the days got longer in the summer heat, we found more and more things to do with our time. Andy had a swamp on the back part of his yard. We would hike around in the woods surrounding the swamp and hunt for frogs and lizards. Some days we would climb trees and pretend to be pilots flying airplanes.... other days we would build forts and pretend to be at war shooting with our guns widdled out of wood. Eventually I got so consumed in "playing" I didn't hear the whistle calling me home. This was really the only rule my mother enforced, come home when you hear her whistle.... I broke the rule time and time again.
Each offense earned me more chores, and longer restrictions. And each time I was given my freedom back, it seemed I wouldn't "hear" the whistle eventually and I would be punished again. Finally my dad had heard enough of my disrespect for the rule. He stomped out into the garage and fumbled around until he found a can of white spray paint. I watched in confusion as my dad took the can of paint and walked out the driveway. He walked to the end of our fence line (on the side headed out of the culdesac) and sprayed a white line across the road.
It took me a few moments to realize what the line represented. It was a fence... a border.... a cage keeping me INSIDE the culdesac. As dad walked back into the yard, a twinkle of victory in his eyes, he said... and I quote... "Don't go past the line."
Because we lived where there was no traffic, the line remained across the road until I moved out of my parents house. MY kids were instructed to not go past the line... heck it might still be there today for all I know! Its amazing what a little paint, respect and a whole lot of fear will hold inside a culdesac....