I grew up in the city. Never knew anything different but I always felt this way of life was not normal.
Our house was a rented upstairs of a two flat. Heat was a single kerosene space heater in the living room. I had to haul the kero up from the basement, three flights of rotted, slanting stairs. In winter they were ice coated and super dangerous.
Houses were only three feet apart. I learned the facts of life by watching the couple next door out of my bedroom window. They were no more than six feet from me.
Snow didn't stay white very long. It quickly turned dirty, ugly brown from the pollution.
Our neighborhood was mixed ethnic European. We were Italian, as were the neighbors across the street. Others were German, Polish, Jewish and so on.
The main form of communication was opening a window and shouting. The women would sometimes have these 'conversations' for hours.
I rode bicycles we (friends and myself) built them in the basement from junk parts. We were into recycling before the word was even known.
I also made zip guns in that basement. Any chemical desired could be bought at the local pharmacy. I made my own explosives by the age of seven. The guns were made from scrap parts and would shoot ball bearings or glass marbles. Crude as they were they would have been deadly at close range.
We used them to hunt and shoot rats in vacant buildings.
Occasionally, I would 'run away' to the local fire department. They would feed me and treat me like royalty and let me slide down the pole. A fireman named 'Frank' would give me rides on the high rear seat of the hook and ladder truck.
At the young ages of six or seven I would take the electric street car from the far west side of Chicago into the lake front and go to the museums by myself.
Hey!!! I'm on a roll here..........somebody stop me.
I'll stop soon.
By the age of 12 I took that same street car into the city but by then I would go to the burlesque shows and strip houses.
I'll stop here. But, if you are thinking I didn't have much parental supervision, you are very astute.
"Folks is funny critters."
Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire