I grew up in a house with a white picket fence. It was a literal white picket fence but was as much of a figurative white picket fence as there could be too. I grew up in the 60’s with a working dad, a stay-at-home mom, and four kids in an all American neighborhood where the families supported each other and the kids played together in each others’ yards.
One day when I was about five or six I tied a cardboard box to my bike, which still had training wheels, and drove down the driveway, following the sidewalk just outside the white picket fence. About that time my dad arrived home from work. As he drove past me he rolled down the window and asked, “What are you doing?” “Running away from home,” I replied. “OK,” he said. He continued into the driveway. He got out of his car, came over and picked up the box, which had at least two stuffed animals inside, and said, “Why don’t you come back into the house?” And that was the end of it. I didn’t even make it to the end of our sidewalk.
The 4-foot picket fence had a metal gate that went across the drive-way. It stayed opened a lot. I’m not sure why it was closed this particular day, but it was. I ran out to open it for my dad when he arrived home from work. But rather than pushing it in front of me, I dragged it behind me. The gate got to moving faster than I was and it ran over the back of my foot. It cut my ankle and it was bleeding a lot.
I was 7-years old and in second grade. I started crying. My dad parked the car. He jumped out and ran to me. He got his handkerchief out of his pocket, (men always carried handerchiefs back then) pressed it to my ankle, and carried me into the house. I remember thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m so big and my dad is carrying me.’ I was a little bit embarrassed but at the same time was kind of in hero-worship. My dad was coming to my rescue!
My aunt, my dad’s sister, was a nurse, so he took me to her house; she cleaned up the cut and put a few butterfly bandages on it. She and my cousins lived with my grandparents; I got a lot of attention from all of them. It appeared I was going to live through the incident. I do have a scar on my right ankle that reminds me of the event. It’s one of my favorite childhood memories.
I have so many wonderful memories of that fence, but none are more poignant than a mother and her four children all dressed up in their Easter finery on a Sunday morning in 1962, standing in the yard outside their home just a few feet away from the white picket fence. Of course the father was not in the picture; he rarely was. He was always the one taking the photos of his beautiful family. It was for them that he worked so hard to provide the house with the yard and the white picket fence.