Wednesday, April 15, 2015

They Tied Me to a Tree

Hi Bill

I was thinking about when Mom, Dad and you and I were living with Grandpap in the Lyswin neighborhood of the city. That would have been back in the early to mid 1950s. I don’t remember the early years very well, but I do remember some things about the last few years in that neighborhood. I wasn’t exactly the bravest little squirt in that neighborhood but I had lots of interesting times and somehow survived my life on those yards, sidewalks and streets. I also had several good friends in the neighborhood and I still remember some of them: Johnny, Stevie, Polly (I had a major crush on her, which lasted into my HS days, even though I only rarely caught a glimpse of in the city).

I felt like I owned that neighborhood when I was age 5-7 and I don’t remember worrying about much of anything. Of course, there were indications that I was not the brightest bulb in the chandelier. Having to repeat kindergarten for a second year is a clue, but Clark did not sweat the small stuff. Anyway, my friends and I rode our bikes all over the streets of that neighborhood and often into the wilds of other neighborhoods. As you probably remember, we also made plenty of unwise decisions and found ourselves in some difficult situations. Luckily you were often there to rescue me or offer wisdom via threatening advice and solid physical guidance. I remember those wonderful days and evenings when the parents sent you out to find me and get my little butt home before I got into problematic situation. I really didn’t seem to recognize any danger in that neighborhood. Yes Buddy and some of the other older thugs in the neighborhood were mean, but they knew you were my brother so they usually left me alone. Of course I did have some unfortunate experiences like being tied to a tree somewhere in the neighborhood a couple of times. I think you found me and untied me at least once and I seem to remember Dad scouring the neighborhood and untying me from a tree and being really angry at the suspected perpetrators. But hey, it was all in good fun. I also remember riding my bike on the street sliding under the front bumper of car in an intersection, only inches away for injury. I scared the hell out of me and the driver of the car.

Actually I remember those years as being exciting and even magical. The fact that my big brother was around to watch out for me and often to rescue me, certainly helped make that a wonderful time in my life. You seemed to know all my favorite hangouts including the creek that was usually very calm and shallow but became deep and threatening at times and Zimmies General Store which was across Logan Blvd, which was divided by the street car rail bed between the lanes. Zimmie (who seemed to be a very old man too me) was always there and his store building looked like it was part of a Gunsmoke episode, i.e., unpainted grey rough lumber with a small porch on the front, but he had all kinds of enticing things for sale in there. He also had one of those coffin-like pop-bottle coolers with water and ice in it. Of course my friends and I usually didn’t have any money, but we liked to hang around there, even though we were not supposed to. It was great when Grandpap or you took us to Zimmies and bought us treats. Anyway, you and (I believe) also your good friends (Ernie and Eddie) usually knew where to find me when I needed to be found and I am grateful you were there for me. 

I hope you and your family are well and prospering.

Sincerely Clark

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