KIDS IN MY NEIGHBORHOOD (worst to first)

The families in my So Cal neighborhood had kids my sisters' ages—teenagers. Since we were the only family to have a surprise baby (me), there were few kids my age. The ones who were didn't share my interests or my temperament.
  1. Kim
    Mean girl. Chewed on her hair. Once hid behind some bushes (with Dawn, see below) and called my dad "baldy" when he was working in the yard. Then they ran. I was more upset with that than anything they ever said to me.
  2. Dawn
    Kim's toady. They shared a strange habit of making bizarre vocalized sounds that I can still remember today. Called my house (with Kim, see above) and said things about how pretty I was but in a nasty tone so I knew they were mocking me. One comment I remember was about my long ... black ... hair. Had to explain to my mom why I put peroxide on my hair later that day. 😳😭 To this day, I wish I knew why they tormented me; really messed with my head for a long time.
  3. Mindy
    Lack of supervision and two older brothers = too wild for me. Nicknamed Frizz by her brothers, Bird Legs and Stretch.
  4. Elaine
    Shoplifter. Prank caller. Had a jungle gym in her backyard.
  5. Paul
    Rented the house across the street while his family's new home was being built. Such good manners! Looked like Robbie Benson in Ice Castles. Had three siblings, all younger who were just as fun as he was. Fun fact: The house was formerly occupied by the parents of Gary Puckett: successful power ballad singer in the 1960s.
  6. Rob
    Rental house kid—to date, one of the truly nicest people I've ever met. I was heartsick when he moved away.
  7. Mark and Dennis Ames
    Mark was my age; Dennis, a couple years older. They were both intelligent and nice. Mark sat next to me in class for years ... alphabetical seating always put us up front. He was never rude, disruptive, or unkind. Their parents were both hearing impaired, and around seventh grade the family moved to Brazil to open a school in an area without services for hearing-impaired individuals.
  8. Karen
    My best friend for years; an all-around nice girl. Her house was a little hectic: single parent who couldn't walk (due to polio as a child), and an unruly older brother. Like me, she liked to read and listen to music. We went to the beach a lot; one of our moms would drive us. One day on the way home from the beach, I bent over to put on my shoes, and their corgi bit me on the face. This was the seventies, so no one sued anyone. (Picture is exactly what I saw—real close up.)