With the arrival of fall, and less playtime because of weekdays spent at school, neighborhood boys were always ready for some football on weekends.
The photo shown is Clark’s lawn on the corner of Church Street and Railroad Street in my hometown of Derby, Maine.
It was perfect for football unless you consider that large rock in the middle or the street sign and lightpole at the corner. I don’t recall any serious injuries due to the rock.
However, the street sign did score a few head or groin injuries to any youth more focused on catching the football than any consequences.
In the early 1950’s more than half of that neatly mowed lawn was a field. Back then it was a place to crawl, explore, and get dirty, or catch grasshoppers; yet it was only chest high, so all you had to do was stand up to find your way back to civilization.
Likewise at that time, lawns were mowed with a rotary blade push mower, so owners were reluctant to clear fields they’d later have to mow grunting and sweating. That changed around 1960. The field was replaced with that beautiful lawn shown with the introduction of mass produced lower cost gas powered lawn mowers.
Getting a dozen adolescent or teen boys together to form 6 player teams for a game of tackle football only took a few phone calls. There were no couch potato video games back then, so outdoor physical activity was a way of life that most boomers still enjoy to this day.
The football field layout was simple. Clark’s driveway and Railroad Street formed the end zones. Church Street was one sideline and the other was the edge of Bushway’s lawn though it lacked any physical out of bounds marker.
Our football games often started in the early afternoon and continued past dinner time as we played until dusk.
We didn’t wear helmets. We didn’t have padding. We didn’t have uniforms. It was just energetic boys in shirts, sneakers, and jeans having the time of their life.
At days end we were bone tired and could feel the effects of extreme exercise taking hold as we dragged our feet or limped on home to a welcome, though perhaps cold, home cooked dinner.
That was Saturday. Come Sunday we’d do it again. Yes, we were always ready for some football.