I grew up in a suburb near Detroit that sprang up after WW II. In my particular neighborhood, all of the houses were called bungalows. The tiny downstairs consisted of a living room, dining room, kitchen and 2 bedrooms. The upstairs was an unfinished attic room that every homeowner eventually made into an additional bedroom. The houses were made of brick and they were separated by the space of a driveway. We lived pretty close to each other. In the summertime, with the windows open, you could clearly hear conversations in neighboring houses.
It was a great place to grow up. There were lots of young families, many of the fathers were WWII vets, including my father, and there were lots of kids. There were often elaborate games of hide-and-seek in the early evening with kids from all over the neighborhood participating. We had to create our own adventures – no computer games or cell phones in those days. We rode our bikes (sans helmets – we would have laughed at the idea of a helmet) to get around. We played with our dolls, swam at the neighborhood pool, played baseball, made things, read books, played four-square in the street, walked up to the neighborhood drug store and ‘beer’ store for penny candy.
There was almost always someone around to play with. In my midwestern suburban neighborhood, we did something we called ‘calling out.’ For example, if I wanted to play with Patty Moore, who lived down the street, I would go to her house, station myself outside her front or side door – this could either be right outside the front door or further out from the house on the lawn or sidewalk – and yell, “Patty.” But this particular yell was not a crisp, short “Patty.” No, it was a sing-songy drawn out “Paa – aa – tee – ee” that changed pitch with each syllable. ‘Pa’ was the top note, ‘aa’ was a couple of notes down in pitch, ‘tee’ was back to the original note and ‘ee’ was back to the second note. It was definitely a minor, not a major, sound.
We all did it. If someone ‘called me out’ my mom, upon hearing the call, would tell me, “Claudia, so-and-so is calling you out.” And I would go to the door. Or, if I wasn’t available, my mom would go to the door and say “I’m sorry, so-and-so, Claudia isn’t home right now” or “Claudia is doing her homework and can’t come out.”
I suppose we knocked on a door now and then. But in my neighborhood the accepted thing to do was that wonderful, almost chant-like, ‘calling out.’
‘Calling out’ has a different meaning these days. It can mean calling someone’s name on the street to get their attention or challenging someone.
Now, here’s my question: Did you do something like this when you were a kid? Was this done in some version in every city and town? Or was it peculiar to my corner of Michigan?