“To call for Patty.”“Come home when I call you for lunch.”
I’d walk the block and a half to Patty’s, or ride my bike when I had a bike, go up her drive and round to the back door. Standing in front of the screen door I’d call out “Patty.” Inside the house her mother or older sister would call out: “Patty. Someone’s calling for you.” And Patty and I would amuse ourselves for the rest of the morning. We always used back doors. Unless the house had a side door, instead. We went home when our mother called us.
If we strayed from earshot some neighborhood friend we’d passed on the way probably would run and find us. “Your mother is calling you.” Telling someone their mother was calling was a sacred obligation. Childhood was most enjoyable when your mother was happy and lunch was hot. I can’t remember anything except Campbell’s soup and sandwiches. Toasted cheese for tomato soup and bologna sandwiches for every other soup.
Mothers passed the calling home job down the line as children were old enough to lean out the back door and yell with high childish voices for their siblings. For the person being called home, this one could be ignored a little longer, but no longer than when you heard your mother’s follow up call.
In our neighborhood there was one call that everyone knew and everyone passed it along. It was my sister Janice calling for her big brothers, Walter and Melvin. WATERMELLON! WATERMELLON!