It was the early 1940s. WWII was raging overseas. I was 6 years old. We had moved to the coastal Maine city of Portland. At night, neighbors in silver helmets made sure our blackout curtains were on. Our ships watched out for invading Nazi U-boats. Voices on the radio were ominous, and often gloomy.
---Searching for at least temporary relief from the fears of war, my family discovered the Deering Oaks. There, I discovered, all my cares were forgotten as I joined dozens of other kids cavorting in the waist-high pool.
---After a while, I joined others in the long, paved walk at the edge of the much larger Pond, watching boaters and ducks moving on the water, the city's eastern buildings in the distance.
---At last I arrived at the stone store where the candy and ice cream were dispensed. Having wheedled change from my family, I bought some and sat awhile.
---I heard some noises and turned toward them. Ball fields and tennis courts stretched before me, full of people playing away.
---Suddenly aware of the time, I headed down the road to my family. Dozens of tall, leafy trees broke the afternoon sun. Here, too, people were around: picnicking, walking, holding hands, playing tag and other games.
--- And then , there they were: my family. Waiting for me at our Innocent Oasis of Deering Oaks. The first of many such visits we would make to our refuge from fear.
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