When we first moved in at 6324 Blackhawk Road
in late spring of 1966, the lay of the land was like this, facing our house from the street: to the immediate right, next door, were the Crownovers. Four kids, Andrea, Alan, Garth and little Gwen.
To the right of the Crownovers, the Werners, with five kids, including a set of fraternal twins. To the right of the Werners, the Steinbaughs, two kids, Keith and Karen, if I’m not mistaken. To their right, the Fisher clan – Johnny, Lindy and their brood, John Paul, Chuck, Vicki and Rob.
To their right, the Conways, two kids, Julie and Luke.
Across the street from the Crownovers were the Jennings family with two little girls, Connie and Judy.
In June, Pam moved in directly across the street from us, next to the Jennings, and the Barnetts (two kids, Beth and Buddy) arrived on the corner, all the way from Texas, two houses down from us on the left. In between were the Wilkins, the kindly older couple that every neighborhood seemed to have.
Way down on the other end of the street, my good friend Michelle Casey and her sister Celeste from our old neighborhood had moved in just before us, but they didn’t get down our way much. I spent quite a bit of time at their house for a while, though.
It was kid heaven.
(I went up to the attic to pull out some pictures from those glory days that I took with my Polaroid Swinger, but they were too faded to scan. Sad. Lots of kids in goofy poses. You can probably imagine.)
I was 10 and in the last stretch of fifth grade. Cathy was 7. The Young Rascals’ “Good Lovin’” was just giving way at the No. 1 spot on KAAY-AM, 1090 on Your Dial, to “Monday, Monday” by the Mamas and the Papas. It was a spring of good music and good times.
Cathy, Connie, Buddy and Rob were all the same grade. Pam, John Paul, Michelle and I were all in the same grade, and most of the other kids were within a couple of years in either direction. We were all friends and all played together.
But we didn’t all go to school together – Indian Hills was so new that the elementary school wasn’t built yet, so we had total school choice. Cathy and I stayed on at North Heights, even though it wasn’t the closest school, so I could finish out my elementary years there.
People could send their kids to whatever school was convenient, so kids on our street went all over the place. The Fishers were at Pike View, I think, and Pam went to Park Hill because it was close to her mother’s work. The Werners were Catholic and went to Immaculate Conception, just a quick walk through the woods away.
Because of that close proximity, many of our neighbors in Indian Hills were Catholic and never went to school with us, but we still bonded in the street and at the pool.
(By the year Pam and I started seventh grade together at Ridgeroad Junior High, IH had its own elementary, where Cathy, Connie, Buddy and Rob became classmates.)
So many people from the old neighborhood picked up and moved to Indian Hills in that time that Cathy and I had new neighbors/classmates who were old neighbors/classmates. Indian Hills was a hot tamale, a going concern.
We were also an upstart, renegade neighborhood, challenging Lakewood – long the supreme NLR ‘burb – for ultimate suburb rights. Since Indian Hills literally butted up to the city limits at the time and had nothing but woods before and behind it for years (barring a piece of Sherwood connectivity), we won those rights easily.
But we were like wild Indians in the eyes of the Lakewoodites. Since Indian Hills opened its doors to anyone, we were interlopers, woods-dwellers, second-tier suburbanites.
That’s how Pam and I felt at times in junior high, anyway. But we didn’t care. We loved those woods and the total middle-classness of it all and made them our own.