Monday, August 8, 2011

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.



Blogger Greg said...

That is one scary looking rat! I wish we had that sense of community here.

Monday, August 08, 2011  
Blogger Kailyn said...

I have a number of friends from high school who grew up on the Point. While they may be close to some of us, there's something about the Point that makes their bond to one another even more so.

Monday, August 08, 2011  
Blogger cookiecrumb said...

Really a nice story.
But the rat cakes frightened me.

Monday, August 08, 2011  
Blogger namastenancy said...

What a beautiful post - I got a little teary eyed reading it. This one's another keeper for your forthcoming book - "Overlooking the Bay. Twenty years on...."

Monday, August 08, 2011  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Greg, it has built over the years - try a movie night or a potluck supper or a soup swap and invite your neighbors.

Kailyn, it's an interesting phenomenon, isn't it? And fun to be a part of. Even when they come selling stuff to support school trips or the scouts, they come as a group. And Hallowe'en is a hoot here.

Monday, August 08, 2011  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Cookiecrumb, I admit they rather scare me, too. They are still on the counter, controlled in plastic. Not sure they will ever be eaten.

Monday, August 08, 2011  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Nancy, I'm glad you enjoyed it. We have certainly loved living here.

Monday, August 08, 2011  
Blogger kudzu said...

What a sweet thing for the neighborhood to do, acknowledging all the alley rats' achievements. I know it's something they will remember (and who knows -- maybe even recreate in their own lives someday).

As for the rat cakes, I am more than impressed: absolute genius!!

Tuesday, August 09, 2011  
Blogger Zoomie said...

Kudzu, it was one of those really sweet moments that life offers, when one just thanks heaven for the chance of moving onto such a great street.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011  

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