The Reunion

When I was growing-up we moved quite frequently – being the new kid at school was not at all an uncommon experience for me. And, these moves brought more changes than living in a different house and going to a different school. There were times we lived in nice suburban houses with a living room and family room and sliding glass doors to a backyard patio, etc – and there were times we lived with family or in a cheap apartment. But, easily, the biggest move that introduced the most dramatic change in my life was when I was about 10 years old and we moved from the San Francisco area to Harrisburg Pa.


I was slapped in the face with a whole new world, a world that was much older and darker than the world I had known so far. I had lived in places called ‘San Jose’ and ‘Santa Rosa’ that were clear and clean – now I was hearing about places called ‘Wormleysburg’ and Kutztown’ and everything seemed overcast and grimy. I didn’t like our house and I didn’t like Harrisburg Pa at all – except . . .

The very particular place we happened to land at in Harrisburg was a wondrous land called ‘Park Street’ . . . the 1800 block of Park Street to be precise. And I need to be precise about that because in the mid 1960s the 1800 block of Park Street in Harrisburg Pa was a children’s paradise. Let me tell you about this remarkable little block. This was a very narrow one-way street of close together 3 story double homes, with a very narrow alley between each double home. Every house had a small front porch with 3 steps the lead to the sidewalk – no front yards . . . 5 or 6 steps outside your front door and you’re on the public sidewalk. And just about every house had a tree in front of it. These trees were all trunk for about 10 or 12 feet and then full foliage that spread-out across the street meeting the full foliage of the trees reaching over from the other side of the street. Park Street had a green, leafy canopy covering it – from 19th Street at the top of the hill looking down to 18th, Park Street looked like a tree-lined leafy tunnel-like village.

Both the Catholic and the public schools were about 3 blocks away, there was a penny candy shop a couple of blocks in one direction and a soda fountain a couple of blocks in the other direction, a vast public park a block and a half away, and a Saturday matinée at the Penway Theater every (and I mean every) Saturday. But, here’s the most descriptive aspect of Park Street, it’s most defining feature – between 1964 and 1966 just about every-other house on Park Street had a 10 year old boy in it. There were 10 year old girls around as well, and 6 year old boys and 14 year old girls, etc, etc – but the number of 10 year old boys on that one block at that one time was ludicrous.

Park Street was the best place I ever lived. The 3 years I lived there were jam-packed with some of my very favorite memories. Park Street meant a lot to me, it made a drastic move from fresh and new California to dreary and old Pennsylvania more than merely bearable – it made it a delight and one of the greatest adventures of my life. But that was me. . . . the course of my life was such that Park Street was a crucial time and place for me, it shaped me, it helped me define within myself who I was and wanted to be. But, as I say, that was me . . . was Park Street as magical as I remembered it to be, was it so special to all the other little kids who lived there, did I romanticize Park Street into this wondrous children’s paradise because I needed it to be that – or was it genuinely as remarkable a place objectively and to others as it was to me personally?


The title of this little tale is “The Reunion” because, Park Street was in fact and genuinely a remarkable place, I did not reshape my memories into an account that served me best, it really was a special place for all who lived there. Not too long ago the strikingly cute little girl who lived next-door to me on Park Street found me on Facebook. Over several lunches we more and more discovered that Park Street loomed large for both of us, we both cherished that time and those memories. But, this, these lunches with the little girl I ‘married’ in the alley between our houses, is not the reunion. We wondered out loud to each other if we could find any other Park Street kids. And we did. Then we wondered if any of them would like to get together.

The 3H Club - Billy, Mickey, Georgie (Heckman, Haist, & Houser)

Now, there are family reunions, school reunions, military & workplace reunions, etc – but how often do you hear of a reunion of a particular street, of a specific single block of that street? Park Street was so special to so many people that we had a reunion scheduled within days, we had people coming from states away . . . from Colorado to Pa! So, was a Park Street reunion all wishful thinking, were we all overly romanticizing? The unanimous and enthusiastic response of this reunion was to schedule another one for those who couldn’t make this one and for those we couldn't find in time, and actually, just for ourselves, to have a Park Street reunion every year.


Moving so frequently, always being the new kid, this makes owning a sure sense of yourself not a sure and easy thing. My thoughts and feelings about Park Street were very important to me, but I was always unsure if my perception of that time in my life was legitimate, I questioned myself about how I remembered it and what it meant to me – had I manufactured and packaged for myself a neat and handy happy memory that aided me more than the reality? This reunion resolved those lingering questions, my perception and feeling for Park Street were validated by 20 or 30 other grown-up Park Street kids . . . Park Street was a special place to just about all of us, and it’s that ‘us’, being part of an 'us', that means so much to the little boy who was always the new kid.





Now, here's the whole story in just two photos. Below is just a section of a reunion photo . . . I cropped the photo to this particular section because I want you to notice the two men standing in the middle of the back row. That's me (brown shirt & bald) and my buddy from across the street, Michael (blue shirt & ball cap). Remember the classroom photo I included above . . ? . . that was my 6th grade class. Now look below ~


p.s. the pretty lady in front of me, in the sunglasses, is the little girl next door, Barb, whose sister Mary performed the ceremony when we were 'married' in the alley between our houses . . . and the one responsible for this great treat so many years later.

Below is a close-up crop of the reunion photo next to a close-up crop of the 6th grade class photo - that's me and Michael, side-by-side in each nearly 50 years in-between. I never imagined anything like this would happen and I do treasure that it has.

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Comments 15 comments

phdast7 profile image

phdast7 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

MickeySr - A great Hub. your eye for telling detail is wonderful and is the soul of good descriptive writing. I enjoyed the Hub from first word to last. I am so glad you had three years on Park Street.

My park Street experience was a home and neighborhood in Glyfada, a small town about twenty-five minutes from Athens, Greece (we moved there when I was 10 and the Air Force transferred my father to Travis AFB, CA three years later). A twenty minute walk south and we could throw rocks into the Aegean sea.

A twenty minute drive north and their were foothills to climb and explore, and an open air farmer's market and bazaar every Wednesday, and all the Greek ruins, and every yard, even the poor ones, had lemon, orange, pomegranate, fig, and olive trees.

It provided my siblings and I with with a fantasy childhood, that like yours was real. Theresa


Capric222 profile image

Capric222 5 years ago

We move all of the time due to my husband's work, and I am in the process of writing about that. I am wondering how long you lived on this street and how often your family moved? Just curious..it makes me worry a lot about my oldest daughter and her perceptions of where we live at any given moment.


MickeySr profile image

MickeySr 5 years ago from Hershey, Pa. Author

phdast7,

Thanks so much for your encouragement - as I approach 60, always wondering if I could write, I take every favorable comment as encouragement.


MickeySr profile image

MickeySr 5 years ago from Hershey, Pa. Author

Capric222,

The most we ever lived any one place was about 3 years, many places a year and a half or so. all I can tell about the impact on kids is, it depends. I regard my childhood as great - my sister, not so much. I think some kids benefit from staying in one place or from moving around, and some kids are distressed by staying in one place or by moving around.

I think the most important thing is to feel a stability in the home, to know an assurance that your parents love you and love each other . . . that however long you stay in one place or however often you move, you know the family will always be a family - your family.


Capric222 profile image

Capric222 5 years ago

Thank you MickeySr for your response. I don't usually even live anywhere or that amount of time. I am happy to live somewhere a year. I don't think it really has a good impact on my oldest daughter and it makes me feel very guilty, but my reasoning behind why I am doing this is to support my family. There was a time when I would cry wondering if I could buy food or diapers. So, my daughter is suffering emotionally, but what about the rest of it? I mean should we be below the poverty level and struggle to provide? My husband makes a lot of money now. And yes, I know money is not everything, love is, but when you are worried about providing for the basic human needs of many individuals, what do you do at that point? I don't know. I guess nobody can answer that question, as it is a question in which I think I ask for validation for what I am doing and there really isn't anyone who is ever in anyone else's position. Anyway, thanks for commenting back. Take care!


Keith Matyi profile image

Keith Matyi 5 years ago from Denton, TX

great story! I had similar experiences growing up on my street which I think I may write about...


Barb Criss 5 years ago

I love your writing. I love the story, but moreso, I love that I lived this story. Oh let me go on... I love that I lived on Park Street, that you were "the boy next door", that we lived in a time such as that; I love that we reconnected,... I love that there are others who showed the same delight as we felt, I love that we pulled this off.... and I love that you captured "our story" in one of your hubs. With that said.. I'm having a Mickey Haist withdrawal and hope to make plans for us to see one another again soon.


qlcoach profile image

qlcoach 5 years ago from Cave Junction, Oregon

Excellent writing. Yes to the power of friendships and positive relationships. Too many people in our American culture isolate or remain alone. Sending you yellow butterflies and blue Light. Peace....Gary.


Denise Handlon profile image

Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

This was just great! Boy, could I relate to this-our street had tons of kids to hang out with. FB has been instrumenal in getting in touch with many of them once more.

Very nice story and photos. Enjoyed (rated up)


glassvisage profile image

glassvisage 5 years ago from Northern California

The photos really complete this story. I am from Sonoma County and live in Santa Clara County now, and I'm glad you were able to find this kinship in PA.


wingedcentaur profile image

wingedcentaur 5 years ago from That Great Primordial Smash UP of This and That Which Gave Rise To All Beings and All Things!

Well done! I love all the surrendipitous symmetries that occurred: hooking up with your best friend fom Park Place; actually marrying the girl you 'married' back in your childhood days there; actually having the ceremony performed by the young lady's sister, both in make-believe and real life.

It's a wonderful life, George Bailey.... er, um, Mr. MickeySr!

Well executed remembrance. Voted up for beautiful.


Alastar Packer profile image

Alastar Packer 5 years ago from North Carolina

Glad you have those memories and the reunion too MickeySr.


lmmartin profile image

lmmartin 5 years ago from Alberta and Florida

Funny how life's synchronicity works. Lynda


MickeySr profile image

MickeySr 5 years ago from Hershey, Pa. Author

Thanks, all of you, for taking the time to look over and comment on this personally-based hub - I appreciate it.


htodd profile image

htodd 5 years ago from United States

This is really great finishing ..Thanks for the nice post

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