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In today’s world we search for good news. If you watch cable news networks and listen to radio, you will be hard put to find any. Maybe that is why so many of us remember Princeton as a home town where people weren’t afraid of letting their kids roam the neighborhoods until supper time.

Bird Haven was a great place to raise a family in 1966, when we moved into our first home.

The kids discovered the creek that runs across east to west. My children were forbidden, like so many, not to play in the water but often the temptation was too great. Then there was the hill just west of our house on Clark Street. It was perfect for sledding. The farmers who owned it allowed kids to play for hours on their property not fearing liability...unlike today. Growing right behind our yard was our neighbor’s mulberry tree, great for climbing and anyone who climbed it had purple feet when they got home.

There was a vacant lot that was just right for a baseball game. Mr. Ellberg, the plumber, had a big “For Sale” sign posted on the property, but kids removed it from time to time when a summer evening beckoned and the neighborhood kids played ball. He would, from time to time, put his sign back up.

The back yards were open from one end of the neighborhood to the other allowing enough room for football games to be played every summer evening. They were hard fought games that ended with arguments, but everybody came back the next evening and the play would begin again.

Sprinklers were good entertainment for kids on hot summer days. An occasional water fight with unsuspecting teens sunning themselves, were awakened, when buckets of water got dumped on them. Then in the fall, because no one had a tree big enough for shade, I imported bags of leaves to make a pile big enough for kids to jump in.

Anyone raised in Bird Haven during those years can recall when the “the new road”, was created to cut across from Clark Street to North Linn. By doing this, the trip to Jefferson School was much shorter and kids could ride their bikes or walk to school. My kids hated it when they were made to walk because of all the grass hoppers. The area wasn’t manicured like it is now. It might be North Linn to people today, but to the kids from the neighborhood, it will always be “the new road.”

Good times, free, barefooted times. Back then, kids could still be kids. Betty

“Roll Out Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy, Days Of Summer” Nat King Cole

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