At the end of Acorn Street was THE TREE. This was a tall living oak that had two trunks (one close to the water and one much higher) which leaned far out over the water. We spent hours relentlessly jumping off THE TREE and swimming back to shore.
At the end of Birch Ave was THE BEACH. This great resource was complete with sand, a retaining wall, a diving board, and steps down to the water. Moms brought their kids there throughout the summer for years; until declining water quality made the Ramapo unsafe for swimming. It was at THE BEACH that we learned to swim like fish and do cannonballs, flips, and jackknifes off the diving board. Two feet below the surface, in the deep water about 50' in front of the THE BEACH, was THE LOG. Kids entertained themselves for years by swimming out and standing on it. Because the river was wide at this point, THE LOG was not so easy to find. This added an element of prestige to kids who could locate it and climb on. Some of the better swimmers could actually dive off he board and swim underwater to THE LOG without surfacing. While the kids were enjoying THE BEACH, the moms sat on their folding chairs and socialized; while simultaneously acting as lifeguards and referees.
At the end of Jerome Ave was a place where neighbors tied up their boats. It was also a great place for kids to fish and get on the ice for skating. We called this place "The Cove" because it was a back eddy along the river which was sheltered from the main river channel. Because this area was relatively shallow and had no current, it was a safe place for skating, which had lots of room and a small island which we loved to race around. When 4" of ice formed on THE COVE, we abandoned THE SWAMP and didn't return until the following year.
Interestingly, THE TREE, THE BEACH, and "THE COVE were all located on paper streets which made them public property for local residents to enjoy.
There were also two sand lots where we could play baseball; one of which had a professionally made chain link backstop behind home plate. While we never admitted it at the time, we also loved to wait until dark, then wade across the river between the end of Island Terrace and Pleasureland Park. This crossing got us around the locked gate and gave us access to the Pleasureland swimming pool; high dive and all.
In addition to the memories of Pleasureland, I will never forget Ramapo Valley Road as it passed through Oakland and continued on to Suffern, New York. In Oakland, there was a historic village streetscape that is virtually unseen in the US today. More significantly, the drive along the river corridor, under the spectacular canopy of maple trees was ranked one of the 10 most scenic byways in America at the time. Though I didn't perceive this beauty as a kid, I was well aware of it before I finished school and moved on.
Additionally, the education system worked well, we enjoyed a close knit family network, drugs came from Sharr's Drug store in Pompton Lakes, there were few unwanted pregnancies, doors were seldom locked, young kids left for school early in the morning and came home after dark without worrying their moms, neighbors maintained their small homes, helped their neighbors, and worked hard to keep their heads above water.
One of the most incredible acts of selfless charity occurred during the summer that neighbors helped Elsie Barwick raise her house. Elsie, who was widowed and worked as an employee of the Borough, didn't have the money necessary to raise her house above the floodwater; which all too often came into her house. That summer, the men from the neighborhood came after work and on weekends to donate their time. Elsie paid for the materials and ran cold drinks to her friends and neighbors who completed the project by the end of summer.
I believe one of the primary reasons we didn't feel poor, was because we accepted our economic status as the norm and, as kids, had no concept of the relationship between the size and location of a home and class status. We were also part of the post-war working middle class which, almost universally, experienced some degree of economic difficulty. I also believe that from my perspective, the abundant resources that I enjoyed made my life rich in spite of the money issues, and additionally defined the things I would enjoy as an adult.
The fact that doctors made house calls (at any hour), knowing they might have to wait for their fee, is just one of many examples of "the way things were".