"Philadelphia Fire Hydrant" by Kwanesum, public domain
Philadelphia Fire Hydrant” by Kwanesum, public domain

“Playing in the fire-hydrants was the most awesomely funnest thing I ever did as a kid. To me it represents how a poor high-crime urban neighborhood can be a great place for a kid to grow up. I’d just walk out my door and there’d be 20 other kids to play with. Unlike kids in suburbia today who have to be driven to soccer practice by their helicopter parents in order to socialize with other children. Hell, we didn’t even have soccer balls. But we played stick ball (using a broom handle and whatever we had for a ball. Parked cars in the street would be designated as bases). And we played BuckBuck. Seriously. What an awesome game! I think it was born in Philly. Maybe you’ve never heard of it. Bill Cosby did a reeeeeally funny bit on it. (He’s from Philly). One team forms a human bridge and the other team takes turns running and jumping onto the bridge trying to make them collapse. Ok, so it’s a little violent but hey, we were kids and kids have a violent streak in them. We would also play a game where we’d see how many people we could squish into a phone booth or an alley or small stairwell. But I think that was more about trying to keep warm in winter.” – Kate Krause

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Header image: map of Northeast Houston in 1922, courtesy of the University of Texas Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin.

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