From about 1943 through 1949
When I was a little older, I explored and played with both boys and girls my age who lived in the neighborhood. Our neighborhood consisted of three blocks of homes away from town and consisted of people of immigrant backgrounds, mostly Irish, Italian and Polish. We all got along ALL of the time. We ran "loose" and only returned home for lunch when the firehouse whistle blew and then, again when the 6 o'clock whistle blew for supper. We scavenged in the dump up the road. We played street games and ran rampant through all the yards during hide and seek. We hunted and collected lightning bugs, butterflies, frogs, snakes, pollywogs and turtles. We played war in the woods as soldiers and enemies and nurses and doctors. We even had a hut in the ground with a roof made of branches. We collected newspapers and bottles to sell to the junk man and then had a garage party with soda and cookies. We traded playing cards and comic books. Almost all had bicycles of some sort and knew how to use a hammer and screwdriver. Dirt and bandaids were the theme of every day. Mosquito bites and poison ivy were common. We ice skated on the ponds. We rang doorbells and ran away. What a gang we were!
The neighbor next door was French-Italian and raised pigeons in his back yard. They had no kids but were very tolerant of our curiosity about the pigeons who were enclosed in the net-covered back yard. (I think they ate them.) It was hard to understand them due to the broken English but we all tried. They laughed a lot. The family next to them had 5 sons, all in the Navy in the early 40's. The lady across the street had a gold star flag hanging in her door window. Another lady down the street had a harp and let me try it out. My best girlfriend's grandmother was German and her father had a wonderful accent. The family up the road had 12 children. I remember that one was a nun, one was a priest and one died. Another one through the woods and on another street had 13. There was always laundry hanging on lines and the older children of the large families helped care for the younger kids - always and without complaining.
Then I got my first horse. Later my best girlfriend down the street got a horse too. New and exciting stuff with horses (and boys) was carried on. We correspond to this day.
I wore boy's pants with a fly, back pockets and belt loops much of the time. They were passed down from my boy cousins and were very welcome in my world. I wore flannel shirts, but always knew I was a girl. I just liked to be different. I was a show off. My braids were cut off when I turned 13.