I lived in a blue collar neighborhood on the SouthWest side of the city which was FULL of kids whose fathers, home from the War, made them, and their brothers and sisters, in a 10 year flurry of sexual activity that gave us the "Baby Boom".
The kids then were the same as kids are today - the differences lie in the culture and surroundings of today - the technology now at their disposal and expectations laid upon them.
I have to say it was easier to be a kid in the late Forties and early Fifties. There was less to know. Less to understand. It was safer, somehow; no one locked their doors and mothers didn't panic if their kid wasn't home by dark. There wasn't any reason to - at least, no one was aware of a reason to. That all changed in 1955 with the deaths of the Schuessler brothers and Bobby Peterson. And then a few years later it was the Grimes sisters and after that, mothers got scared. But for a while we, as kids, were wild and free and it was easy and simple.
There was Bobby across the street and his older brother Francis, and Gloria Volo and Valerie next door to her and then Bobby Polodna next to the alley that paralleled Cermak Rd. And there was Joey next door and his two teenaged sisters, Betsy and Sylvia (Betsy always seemed to have holes in her underwear - they were poorer than we were), and then Alan Schmidt and his sister Tootey (Diane, really) and then Audrey Byers up by the alley. There was the Urban boy from Cermak, and Jerilyn and Sandy and Bronco. There were the Reece brothers from Ogden Avenue and my Dad's buddy Bootsy.
We played stickball in the alley next to my house. It was paved with cinders. I still have some of those cinders under the skin in my knees.
We used to play Bounce or Fly in the street in front of the house with my Dad's old 16" Clinchers, because the new softballs were as hard as rocks and a line drive could kill you. Besides, the cars parked on either side of the narrow street were too likely to become victims of dents and dings from new softballs. So we used to old, soft ones. It was safer all around.
I drove by my old neighborhood the other day. It looks stark. Bare. Colorless. Lifeless. My old house is gone, and so is Joey's, next door. The other side of the street is intact - as I drove down the street, I could almost see myself standing in front of Bobby's house yelling "Yo-o Bob-bee" in order to call him out to play.
It would have been nice, if I could have.