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These are crazy times we live in. The twisted reasoning has changed dramatically from when I was wild/crazy. Talking about local crazy has gotten stale – predictably consistent but wacko never the same. Anyway, just so we don’t get accused of an unbalanced scale of tit-for-tat I am pleasured to bring you some personal episodes of the genre WTF? fifties style.
I couldn’t have been more than eight years old. I was a soldier in the Virginia Street Demons. The club consisted of the Pettigrew boys who lived across the street from my house. There was B.J. the grand poobah, Ricky the middle child dreamer, and Frimper the general in charge of combat in the ongoing war with the Quarrier Street Quacks.
Occasionally, Morris Feinstein joined us in our underground bunker where we conducted the latest war-room strategies for the upcoming battle scheduled for Saturday after the matinée at the Bijou theatre. Long live Hi- Yo- Silver, Sky King, and Bugs with his zany gang. Morris, if you couldn’t tell, was a jewish boy. His dad, a very successful dentist. They lived on the boulevard that followed the river, one street over from behind the Pettigrew compound. They were Hoity – Toiyty of the first order. Morris wore cute stuff like the lederhosen style (no leather) pants with shoulder straps the kids wore in Sound of Music. His shirts were pressed and starched. The lace-up shoes spit shined by the butler. He would come to the vacant lot battlefield all prim and proper and go home with the bunker’s red clay smudges from head to toe. His mother could be heard from the two blocks away where they lived, as she dealt with the apoplectic reality of fraternization with the neighborhood gentile ruffians.
After a particularly startling turn of events at the previous “war” engagement with the Quarrier Street Quacks, Frimper in his vengeful state of anger decided to square the transgression of war standards by the Quacks, with a malevolent creation of a secret weapon never imagined by the combatants thus far.
Battle engagements amounted to Demons throwing giant horse weed stalks with the root ball attached or launching water balloons with a bike tire sling shot. The horse weeds hurt and covered you with dirt from the roots. The water balloons just added insult to injury. The Quacks usually attacked with a barrage of hand-thrown water balloons and wet sand in old socks. If they made it to the brink of the Demon’s fox hole line both sides broke out the pea shooters and the outcome was decided by which side could outlast the other with a mouth full of dried beans to shoot.
So, what enlivened Frimper the warmonger, Pettigrew? The Quacks brought double paper bags weighted with small river rocks and charged with dog poop. They were throwing two at a time and even threw them with all their might. It hurt. It humiliated. Dog crap was everywhere at the Demon battle line, even inside the bunker. To end the one sided melee B.J., at eleven years old, grabbed Quack leader, Dicky Freeman, in a head lock and punched him in the face drawing blood from the villain’s nose. Battle over. But not the war.
Frimper, got some potent, diabolical ideas while recovering from the stench dressing of perpetrated dog squeeze. Frankly, I never got over it. Whenever I think back to that day I can literally smell the odiferous weaponry and feel the welts from the stones.
Frimper gathered two very small café style kitchen curtain rods from his dad’s workshop. The rods had flanges at the ends and were coincidentally the perfect diameter for a 22 short, rim fire cartridge. He ginned up a piece of scrap lumber into a pistol base. Then he used fence staples to attach the barrel to the base and a heavy rubber band to propel the hammer which had a 6 penny nail for a firing pin. We went out to the bunker for the test firing. Bang! It worked perfectly. The next thing I knew Frimper and B.J. were wrestling over the zip gun. Bang, again. And ouch. I looked down at my right wrist and a small trickle of blood was dripping off the top of my hand. I turned my palm up and there was the tiny slug just under my skin.
Needless to say, I went home with my gunshot wound and my mother choking in horror took me straight to the hospital. When we got home, I went across the street to show off my combat wound but the Pettigrew brothers were at the beginning of a one month detention after getting the belt treatment and a trip through the psychological wringer. I got my share of lecturing also, but I knew it wouldn’t begin to measure up to the Frimper’s sentence. Subsequently a permanent truce was declared by Mr.Pettigrew.
Tradition Trumps Common Sense
Seven years later I was part of a very fast crowd. In addition to motorcycles, rail cars, and hot rods, we decided that welding up a small steel frame and mounting 8 inch pneumatic tires with rope steering was going to be the acid test for our version of downhill speed insanity. On a gated hill course outside of Gainesville contestants brought their pseudo soapbox carts to be shot into the winding downhill course by a 1949 V-8 Ford pickup. The rules were: Let go of the pull rope before passing the painted red starter’s post and run the course on the pavement. The best time won.
There were no helmets, no belts, and about six inches of air between your ass and the asphalt. Country Club malt liquor (beer) was the supercharger and varsity cheerleaders were the encouragement. The first run, I beat the other four by four seconds. I was little and my cart was flimsy.
In the final elimination, half way down, I slid into the hardest curve and my niggardly engineered cart came apart. When loose pipe dug into the road the cart remains stopped and I became airborne briefly before skidding along the pavement at 45 mph for twenty yards. That night I had a strawberry from my left shoulder to my ankle and it did hurt like hell. I managed to hide that and the accompanying limp from my mom for a whole week. One evening as I got out of the shower and started to my room wrapped in a towel my mother saw the gruesome scabby, evidence of friction versus teenage body and went ballistic as I attempted to tell her what happened in this latest of competitive exercises. She passed on the good impressions and beat the crap out of me with an old belt as she chased me from room to room for ten minutes.
A few years later I was somewhat taken aback by the willingness of my mother to allow me to enlist in the Navy without the hint of resistance. By the time I got discharged it had dawned on me that this was her only escape at the time, and she took it without pause.
I went to the VA this week and had my face burnt to eliminate all the precancerous bug-a-boos. They gave me the foil lined hat, shown above, to ward off UV rays, and they fixed me up with Zinc based sunscreen. I quickly discovered when I hit the afternoon sunshine of the clinic parking lot that I could be on to something big. Notice the Navy blue color of the hat. The near perfect attractor/concentrator of sun rays. As I walked to the truck the hat heated to oven levels and I knew I was on my way to revolution. Thanks to government procurement standards the hat was probably designed like this to make you so uncomfortable you would flee to shaded protection. Well, never prone to pavlovian reactions I got the message immediately. The government probably paid $19.95 a piece for these 49 cent hats. So, I knew I was going to cash in with the new go anywhere oven hat.
For your next fishing trip simply take along a baggie and fill it with lunch. At the appropriate time put the baggie on top of your head, replace the oven/hat and step out from under the boat canopy. Bake your lunch in the hat for four minutes -- if you can stand it -- then chow down. No fuss, no muss. Order yours today and get another oven hat for your fishing partner, absolutely free.
Best two handed catch
Class Over Crass - Ben & Candy Carson
Who's That Thinkin'?
Dutch river crossing
Anabal Arias Classical guitar
Or . . . . . .
Fantastic Negrito- An honest man
That's Enuff Said.