Review of the book “Roxaboxen”
I almost cried reading “Roxaboxen”, written by Alice McLerran and illustrated by Barbara Cooney. It was such a sweet story and reminded me of my own childhood game with friends.
On the back of the book, the background behind the story the author shared that it came from his mother’s childhood. She researched parents, former residents and childhood papers. It was located between Second Avenue and Eighth Street in Yuma, Arizona.
As a new resident of Yuma, I had to see the site as well. Sure enough, it is there and has been preserved as a neighborhood historic site. It wouldn’t mean much to you if you hadn’t read the book once you got it, you can imagine kids playing. It’s a rough hill with just a bunch of rocks and boulders. A sidewalk, benches and a sign were added.
In the story, the children built a city using smooth rocks and colored glass. They elected a mayor. Sticks have become horses to ride. They had adventures in the Wild West. They claimed there was a river. The stones became fictitious money for currency used in fake stores made from old wooden boxes. They made a cemetery for the lizard. They sucked honey from the flowers of Ocotillo.
A gray-haired man brought back fond memories of picking up a rock on a beach. Fifty years later, the woman the story was about returned and found the stones still there.
When I went to see the site, I didn’t see any sashes, graveyards, or wooden crates. I have seen the rocks and outlines of cities in history. The area is a low income, industrial and run down area. Yuma is a real old west town. It’s under development and snowbirds inhabit the foothills region, but it’s still open enough to appreciate the history behind it. You can see mountains all around for miles.
As I recall my own childhood adventures, I can imagine these children playing. They wouldn’t have been rich. They remind me of “The Little Rascals” that we emulated. They also remind me of “Peter Pan”.
Children are the same from generation to generation, all over the world. There is an innocence in childhood that we lose in adulthood but is still there to draw from when we are ready to return. In this case, it is lucky for us that it has been preserved. I plan to read the story to my grandchildren and take them to the site when they are a bit older.