Chapter Seven

The year 1943 is a blur for me... Danny and I went to school and when we got home we played in the neighborhood until all of the mothers on the block called their kids in for dinner.   With nobody left to play with we went home, too, but it was usually an empty place with Dad gone somewhere, probably with Madilyn, and dinner for us was a bologna sandwich and maybe a piece of fruit. After it got dark I would sit in front of the radio and Danny would prowl the neighborhood, still peeking in windows.   One night he came home and said he had seen two girls in their bathroom, and they didn't have any clothes on!   For me, the only thing interesting in what he said was that they were getting ready for a bath since Danny and I didn't do that for weeks on end.  Heck, nobody ever told us we had to.

Our house was the one in back of another in the middle of the block and we didn't have a yard, but we played often in the backyard next door. World War Two was raging so we played Japs and Soldiers and we did a lot of shooting and throwing hand grenades.  We also played on the side of a grassy hill at the top of Future Street, which was quite steep - probably still is - it ran up the side of a hill to grassy slopes and we would often go to the top with cardboard boxes and then do "California" sledding by sitting on a piece of cardboard and sliding down the grass until we hit something or landed in the street below.   I still bear a scar on the palm of my hand where it was sliced by a piece of glass on the way down.  , Even so, it was great fun!  That was the area, too, where the street was paved with a very smooth concrete which made skating a lot of fun.     Thank you, Madilyn.

Charlie was our friend.  He live on the other side of the street and about six houses up, and when we wanted to play with him we would go up there and stand in his front yard and yell his name until he came out.  Not once were we ever invited in.  Danny and I had a father who was never home and Charlie had a single mom who never left the house.

Has there ever been a gang of kids in a neighborhood that didn't have a bully?  We had ours.  He lived around the corner in a two story house with a big backyard.  There was a huge pepper tree back there, and a thick rope hung from the higher branches.  I played back there once, but didn't go back after he kicked and hit me for some reason only he knew.  Charlie and Danny and I plotted how to get back at him, but we never did.  One day I came home from school and Mrs. Krooke told me that I didn't have to be concerned with that anymore.  Our neighborhood bully had stood on a wagon in his backyard and put that rope around his neck, acting out the scene in a movie where a rustler had been hanged.  He slipped, and the little kids in the yard ran to get help rather than helping him themselves.  When the adults came, it was too late.  He probably didn't really deserve that, but Danny and I thought it was fitting punishment.  Now that I think about it, it was probably too severe for hitting a few kids.

I was eight years old right in the middle of that year but I don't recall a birthday.  That day wasn't any different than the rest of them.       Some childhhood.


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