The windows were shuttered, the porch light was off, the hour was late, and there was nobody in sight. Climbing the steps, we noticed a thin ray of light coming from behind the darkened windows. We knocked, waited, and knocked again. Suddenly the door opened, and through the smoke and haze we saw long hair and heard a male voice that said, “Go to the back door, man.” Caught off guard and collectively brain dead, we hustled off the porch and scooted down the driveway to the back of the house. With sideways looks and feigned bravado, we shuffled to the back door, knocked, and waited. After several long moments, the door cracked open and another hippie sized us up, his eyes, bloodshot from his buzz, trying to make sense of the costumed gang standing before him. After a collectively weak “Trick or treat” from us, he paused for a moment, casually replied “We ain’t got none, man,” and slammed the door in our faces. Later we would claim this was rockin’ Bob himself, a “ramblin’ gamblin’ man” too stoned to dole out a few candy bars to some prepubescent punks.
Today the wide-open spaces where we camped out and flew kites are almost completely covered with streets and homes. The saplings have grown to maturity, giving the whole neighborhood a more shaded and secluded feel. But once or twice a year, when the mood hits me, I find myself turning off Jackson onto Gralake Avenue. The memories swell within me as I pass down the familiar streets. Though I now drive a Chrysler van instead of a Sting-Ray bicycle, I remember instantly who lived in each house more than thirty years ago. I wonder who lives in them now.