The Alley Rats
On the weekend we moved into our house, one of the neighborhood children was having her third birthday party. Dressed like a little princesses in tulle and sparkles, she and her pals were riding ponies up and down the street. It was my first taste of how quirky and delightful life on the Alley would be. That little girl, and two other youngsters from our street, are going off to college in September.
We have always called these seven kids (eight if you count the boy from the street below) the Alley Rats. Despite a range of ages, they played as a cohesive pack all the years we have lived here. They took drama lessons down the hill at the Masquers Playhouse. They slid down the steep hill in the empty lot on cardboard sheets. They went as a group to swim in the bay. Wherever we saw them, some combination of these kids were together.
This past Sunday, their families threw a block party to celebrate their children; the whole neighborhood, plus the wider world of the kids' friends, filled up our little street with barbecues, picnic tables, ping pong, a bouncy castle and cheerful groups of adults and teenagers. One of the Moms even made chocolate cupcakes in the shape of rats with companion lemon cupcakes of "cheese." (I haven't had the nerve to try them yet). The parents asked the guests to bring a dish to pass and a favorite story about the Alley Rats. My Beloved and I assembled the ingredients for "make your own sundaes," which were an immediate hit - within 10 minutes there wasn't a scrap left.
My favorite story about the Alley Rats happened one summer day when I was driving home from the BART station, with windows open and top down, from a long, grim day at work. As I turned in and drove toward our house, all of the Alley Rats popped out of one of the houses and ran behind the car, waving their arms and shouting, "Welcome Home! Welcome Home! Welcome Home!"
One by one, they have grown up and are moving into adult life. Some have stubbed toes along the way, but they have supportive families, neighbors and friends so we know they will be okay. And there are two younger Alley Rats coming along to charm us so, happily, the fun isn't over yet. By the time the last two are in college, perhaps the first ones will be bringing their own little rug rats to the Alley to play.
Labels: Alley Rats