As a child, I wore a harness, because I used to run away. Not because I didn’t love home. But because I wasn’t afraid. I wanted to see the world! I would just take off. It was fun to explore and just run around.
My son would do the same thing. Climb out of his bedroom window and ride his tricycle in the night. I had to put locks on the windows. I got a taste of what my parents went through with me, that’s for sure.
In those days, when I was little, everyone knew everyone. The old lady would call my mother and then tell me, if I was down by the river, or someplace dangerous. I was taught not to take candy or rides from strangers. I knew enough not to get into a car with a stranger, but I also knew I’d take candy, if it was offered.
As I got older, we were allowed to ride our bikes everywhere. We could run and play as long as we were home for dinner. We played war. We had fights. Tomato fights, when tomatoes were in season. I was the only girl.
We played in the dirt. We built cities and houses and drive-in movie theatres. We didn’t have a lot of toys. There wasn’t a big distinction between the kids — we had bikes, roller skates, played dodge ball, jump rope, hopscotch, giant steps. I broke my wrist playing Crack the Whip. We had cap guns and played Cowboys and Indians. We played war games. We acted very Wild West.
I had a playhouse. One year, we turned the playhouse into a flower shop and picked all the flowers in the neighborhood. We played robbers. I was supposed to be the one getting robbed. I got scared waiting for the robbers to show up!
But we were allowed an enormous amount of freedom, and we used our imagination in our games. That sense of freedom and imagination still inspires my work today.