I grew up in Needles California during the early 1950's on Flora Vista where we had soap box derby's, played red rover, built forts and explored the hills and gullies of the desert. We had school carnivals with cake walks and pie contests. We had 'slave day', 'senior sneaks' and the whole town turned out for football games. I felt secure there.
We lived in a large housing development with the open desert just half a block away. We were forever searching for any critters we could try and corral like turtles or lizards, but somehow they always managed to escape!
We played baseball in the streets plus tag and hide-n-seek till way past dark. I remember one summer playing in the yard and cut my foot on a broken glass. Our neighbor was a nurse and I think it must have been a weekend cuz Dr. Andes office wasn't open but she alerted him to meet us there. His office was attached to the drug store so everyone sitting at the soda fountain that day was sorely serenaded by my screaming as I was sewn up!
photos courtesy of Jamie Lucas of Needles
Our neighbor Roy had regular ice-cream socials where we'd take turns sitting on the old wooden hand cranked machine and wait patiently for it's contents to freeze.
Roy also made heavy cement blocks in his backyard and built 6' high fences around 4 or 5 of our homes. One summer a mini tornado came up our street and picked up a large wooden 5x5x6' playhouse in one neighbors yard and hurled it into and smashing part of their block wall. That same wind blew a trashcan lid into my Dad's head knocking him to the ground scaring us to pieces ... (we had just seen The Wizard of OZ and thought the wicked witch would get him!