Parents must have been a lot more trusting when I was a teenager than today, or perhaps it is true that the world was just a bit safer then.

Whatever the case, I remember looking forward to Saturday mornings and my weekly bus ride into downtown New Bedford sans an adult. I was a North End kid living my wonder years on Brook Street. On Saturday mornings, I would walk to the corner of Ashley Boulevard and Shaw Street and wait for the Southeastern Regional Transit Authority (SRTA) bus to whisk me away to downtown. The bus was "#4 Ashley Blvd."

I don't remember what a roundtrip bus fare cost back in the early '70s, but it was worth it. To be 12 and 13 years old and on my own was quite a kick.

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Downtown New Bedford in the early 1970s still had much to offer. The Peanut Shoppe at the corner of William and Purchase Streets was the bomb. You could smell the freshly-roasted peanuts for blocks around. I still think of The Peanut Shoppe today every time I crack a peanut shell.

Kresge's lunch counter was also a favorite. You got to select a balloon with a slip of paper inside. Whatever was written on the slip of paper when you popped the balloon is what you paid for your banana split. The waffle ice cream sandwiches at Kresge's were to die for, too.

Saturday afternoon might also include a movie at one of the majestic old theaters in downtown New Bedford. I loved the Olympia and the Empire theaters and spent many hours at each.

By far, my favorite spot in downtown New Bedford back then was the Saltmarsh department store. Saltmarsh sold all of the latest 45 rpm records and allowed you to take them into a sound booth and sample them on a turntable before buying them.

How many of you would allow your 12-or-13-year-old to take a bus halfway across the city on their own these days? It's a different day and age.

Did you take the bus into downtown New Bedford as a pre-teenager? What were some of your favorite memories of that time period?

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