Second Prize for Essay: Charles Olmstead
|First Prize: Louise A. Kosta|
|Second Prize: Charles Olmstead|
|Third Prize: Dora Yzaguirre|
San Antonio, TX
Being just twelve years old in 1970, I doubt I knew the word "environment" or even its meaning. I lived in it and played in it, as any youngster would who lived in a neighborhood surrounded by woods. We had lived there since I was five years old and we had come to see the woods as our big playground – building forts, digging tunnels, going on campouts and just using our imagination whether it was Cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers or playing war.
We had our trails, our forts and lots and lots of space. The land didn’t belong to us and we didn’t worry about where we went. There was no house or building on the land so we didn’t care. It was all fun.
This was the age of innocence. It was a small town in the South and crime was something you saw on the national news. We didn’t need adult supervision or any guidelines on what to do. Our imaginations ran wild but we knew from what our parents had taught us what we could do and not do. We knew not to cross that line. If we built a campfire for hot dogs and later for special effects for ghost stories, we knew to extinguish the fire and bury the smoldering wood. We also knew that whatever we brought to the campsite or out in the woods, we returned home with it which meant no trash.
With the woods at one end of the neighborhood, the lake was at the other end of the neighborhood. The lake was also a camping site as well as swimming and fishing spots. My father would take us boating on the lake where the activity could also include swimming or water skiing. He would tell us that the lake was there for everyone’s use but we all needed to take care of it.