A photo of myself, in the living room of our old home on Hazel Street. To the left hand side, you can see the front door to our home. Note Dad’s “three-lock system.”
More Reflections on the Hazel Street Era
By Richard James Mabey Jr.
We lived on Hazel Street, in Clifton, from about the time I was a year old till I was just three years old. During this era, Dad worked as a truck driver for Moon Carrier. Back then, most little children did not go to daycare. In fact, for the most part, women stayed home to take care of household duties and to raise their children. In the early 1950’s; it was a different time, a different culture.
Since I was the oldest child in my family, I was an only child in my early years. For the most part, during the daytime, I would be alone while Mom cleaned house, washed dishes, washed clothes and cooked supper. Please remember that this was the era well before the women’s lib movement came into play. Back then, there was true honor in a woman taking care of the home front and devoting herself to raising her children.
During my alone time, I would often sit on the couch in the living room. I remember this so very well. Every night, before falling asleep, Mom would read a bedtime story to me. Most of these stories were from my collection of Little Golden Books that I kept on my little bookcase in my bedroom. Well, the next day, I would “read” the very story that Mom had read to me the night before, to my little Teddy Bear. Of course I couldn’t read at the age of two or so. But what I remember doing is looking at the pictures and then retelling the story as I remembered how Mom had read to me the night before. I was a sensitive child with a vivid imagination.
The front door to our home on Hazel Street opened up to our living room. I remember Dad put in a “three-lock system” on our front door. The first lock, obviously was the keyhole underneath the door knob. The second lock was a dead bolt lock just above the door knob. Then, for added security, Dad put in a chain lock. Dad always stressed to Mom and I that we should always keep the chain lock in the locked position whenever we opened the door, when he wasn’t home. Our front door did not have a window in it. So, the chain lock gave you the chance to see who was at the front door and still have the door locked so that you could keep out someone that you didn’t want to come in.
Dad taught me a valuable lesson here. He taught me to be kind and friendly to people. Yet, be on guard against the “mean people” out there in the world. It’s a lesson that I remain grateful to my father for teaching me at such a young age.
I tend to be a shy person. I tend to be introspective. I love the time to be alone; to think, to read and to write. I think that the hours that I spent by myself, as a little boy, “reading” stories to my little Teddy Bear, played a big role in my personality development. I am convinced that the good Lord was using that time to give me the opportunity to develop my basic skills to be a story teller, to be a writer.
For the most part, our home was a quiet home. Mom didn’t really play the television that much during the day. And, Mom rarely played the radio. I think that created an environment for me to become lost in my own thoughts and imagination. If the radio or television had been on a lot during the day, I think it may have distracted me from being able to get in tune with my creative imagination. Particularly during the time that I took each day to “read” stories to my little Teddy Bear.
We all develop our personality in different ways. I think that the good Lord blessed me with an early childhood that played a big role in developing my creative spirit and imaginative mind, in order to love to write stories. I was dearly blessed to have a loving mother and a strong father to guide in my early childhood years.