December 10th, 2020

storyteller doll

Looking Out My Back Door

If you looked out the back door of our house on Carolina Avenue, what you would actually see were a wooden picket fence and a row of tall, thin poplars. But just beyond that was the next street, Alabama Avenue, which was part of what we referred to as "the factory blocks." There was really just one more block beyond Alabama, which was Saratoga Boulevard.

The kids in our neighborhood used the walls of one of the factories as a backboard to play paddleball or hit a tennis ball against. I don't know what most of the factories made, even though we liked dumpster diving on the factory blocks and brought home all sorts of treasures. My brother once found some colored plastic cels, for example. The best find was made by my great-aunt Bernice, who found a dress for me.

There were two factories I did know about, because people we knew worked at them. My mother sometimes made extra money by doing piecework at one that packaged things for gumball machines. There were little plastic bubbles that she filled with Gumby and his ilk - Pokey the horse and gumby fish and probably a couple of things I've forgotten about. We got to keep defective toys so I had things like rubber horses that were missing a leg.

The other factory I knew about packaged records. Later on, they mostly produced the sort of records that were sold on late night television - 50 Romantic Songs of the 50's or such. But there was a period when they packaged records somebody might actually want. Mom had a friend who worked at that factory and sometimes gave us records from it. The one that sticks in my mind was Cosmo's Factory by Creedence Clearwater Revival. Which, quite appropriately, included the song Looking' Out My Back Door. This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.