Summer on East Court Street (downtown Cincinnati) in the early 1940’s was hot and devoid of trees and shade, but my little sister and I were happy there and grateful to have a nice big third-floor apartment next door to my favorite aunt, Mabel, and her kids. We didn’t have a yard to play in – rather a big flat-top roof with plenty of space, provided you didn’t get too near the edge. To visit my aunt, we would climb out of our kitchen window onto the roof, walk a few feet to the portion that connected with my aunt’s apartment, jump down and go in her kitchen window. It was very convenient and much faster and safer than going down three flights of stairs and onto a busy city street.
One summer my sister and I had a large wooden box on the roof and Mother let us plant radish seeds. We were fascinated, especially when we got an invasion of caterpillars and we spent one entire day watching, picking up, putting down furry black and yellow caterpillars. That night we both dreamed we had fuzzy critters crawling all over us and I don’t recall ever bothering with the “container” garden again.
There was no swimming pool nearby, but sometimes Mother let us go out in a summer shower and splash around in the puddles on the city pavement. My mother dreamed of the day we would be able to move from the inner city. She was a small town girl and told us endless stories of how she ran all around Morrow (Ohio) when she was a child, how she played in the cemetery, knew everybody in town, went wherever she wanted while her widowed mother worked in a munitions factory during the day. She used to draw pictures for us of the house we would have some day with trees, grass and a picket fence running all around the house and “kids running around the picket fence”, but it was during World War II and housing was scarce. (We did move to a little brick house with a picket fence and a rose trellis in 1943).
One year, a daughter of my father’s boss at Dayton Acme invited us to go swimming at a pool at Guilford School near Lytle Park in another part of downtown Cincinnati. Mother made us red and while polka-dot swim suits and we were so excited, although after I got there I really didn’t care for the confusion and noise of a very public pool. I preferred splashing around in the puddles on the sidewalk in front of 20 East Court Street during summer showers.