Back in the Day: It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhoods

By Tony Wade
(originally published in the Fairfield Daily Republic on Nov. 14, 2014)

My family moved to Fairfield from Hamilton Air Force Base in June 1976 to a brand-new house on Davis Drive (off East Tabor near the railroad tracks). The cost? A whopping $35,000.

It was a nice neighborhood with the Grays two doors down and Doug and Aileen Butt across the street.

I was 12 and it was hard being the new kid at Grange Intermediate, but in my neighborhood, we were all new kids. I hung out with Bobby and Mike MacCallum. They had lived in San Francisco and were more street savvy than me and taught me to smoke cigarettes.

I got busted by a security guard smoking with a then-9-year-old neighborhood kid we nicknamed Pickle (whose brother was called Fish Eyes). I had purchased the Winstons we were a-puffin’ on – for 55 cents – at EZ Mart (with a note from “Mom”).

When playing street football, two rules had to be followed: defenders had to count to seven alligators before rushing the quarterback and when someone yelled “CAR!” it ended a play like a referee’s whistle.

Other locals shared:

Deborah Arsich: We grew up on Flint Way behind David Weir Elementary. There was a steep hill, steep driveways, and red wagons. Someone would push you in the wagon down the driveway into the street and down about 20 feet. Whee! No helmets, no serious injuries, but lots of fun! I am convinced we gave a lot of guardian angels heart failure.

Barbara Ann McFadden: The first house we lived in (approximately 1967) was on East Tennessee Street. We never had to give anyone the address because it was painted pink. We all thought that when my dad finally got around to painting it, he was going to use a different color, but he just used a brighter pink! We had gotten used to telling everyone to go to the pink house on Tennessee so he didn’t want to change it.

Mary Pfeifer: I remember as a preteen thinking how I would do anything to get out of my neighborhood of flat-top, small-box houses. But when I became a parent, I wanted my kids to know what it was like to have great neighbors. So I first rented a house on the street I grew up on, then bought one. I have neighbors I’ve known all my life. Mrs. Caldron still has the best yard and makes the best cookies. We can chat it up with Mr. Lozano every day. Mrs. McGee’s memorial was really sad, but was also a wonderful neighborhood get-together. My neighbors are part of my family.

Teresa Ficarra: My parents bought their first house in 1967 on San Pedro Street in Fairfield. Next to our house was an open field, and the old man who owned that property was known as “Old Man Jack.” He boarded horses that grazed there. Old Man Jack would allow the kids in the neighborhood to ride the horses for 50 cents. All the kids in the neighborhood knew each other. It’s so sad that our kids didn’t get to have a carefree childhood. I now live in a small city that has a similar feel to the Fairfield I grew up in.

Vicky Valentine Proud: We moved to 1725 Vermont St. in Fairfield where we (myself and my brother Paul and sister Pam) met some pretty cool kids. We played hide-and-seek until it was dark, made homemade water slides on our front lawns and played infinite amounts of two-hand touch football games. There were lots of good memories made on that street. In fact, one of my bucket list items would be to get that gang together again and play just one more game on that street.

Callie Walker Boreski: I grew up on First Street, a neighborhood where everyone knew your name. The ditch was next to my house, which offered hours of fun hunting polliwogs or making mud pies. When it was dry, we rode our bikes up and down the sides or researched the sewer. If we were lucky, a cardboard box could be used for a slide. On hot days, they opened up the fire hydrant. I wouldn’t trade my childhood in Fairfield for anything.

Reach Fairfield writer Tony Wade at toekneeweighed@gmail.com.