Tuesday, November 2, 2010

SWEENEY AND ME - PART 1

For every child summer seems to last forever.  Looking back on that special time of life, all the days are long and sun filled with running around playing.  The child finds himself doing things that deep down he knows are wrong, but there is an impulse that brings the thought into reality and then the child immediately begins to hope and wish that he doesn't get caught.  When he gets away with whatever it is, there is joy.  When he gets caught doing the offense, which is far less likely to happen, punishments surely awaits.

I am not sure how old I was when the following event happened but I want to guess that I was around seven or eight.  My mother babysat for extra income so along with my brother and I, there were probably two or three other kids outside that bright sunny summer morning.  We had been playing all morning waiting for George, the postman to make his round to our house.  You could set your clock by George as he showed up at our front door every morning right around ten minutes after ten.  He was tall and lanky but still showed a lot of stamina as he carried that heavy mailbag on his shoulder.  George was a very friendly postman and he would stop and talk to us for a bit before heading on down the street.  George would be our friend for years upon years, stopping to talk to us almost every summer day that we were out.

I mention George because that is how I come to approximately what time of day it was that we kids committed the offense.  It seems like George had been there and gone for about fifteen minutes so it was approximately ten thirty on a summer weekday morning that we found ourselves in the front yard.  If it had not been for the lure of talking to George that morning we may have been in the back yard when the situation presented itself instead of the front yard.

I remember there were some little rocks along the curbside and it wasn't long before we began tossing them across the street to see who could come closest to hitting the opposite curb.  This activity slowly turned into tossing rocks at each other which was extremely dangerous in the getting caught business because if just one kid caught a rock in the eye, the game would be over and all of us would be punished.

It was at about this time that we heard the loud grinding noise of a truck at the bottom of the hill.  We quickly ran over to the curb and saw a big dump truck, similar to our little Tonka ones, beginning to struggle up the hill slowly gaining speed as it continued to push itself.  Now I am not one to point fingers and to be honest I really don't know whose idea it was, but by the time the dump truck reached our driveway every kid in that front yard had a small hand full of little rocks at the ready.  As the powerful truck passed us the rocks suddenly flew out of little hands hitting the truck on the side making a terrible clatter.  We were all laughing and enjoying ourselves with our good rock tossing when the unthinkable happened and the unthinkable was not my mother coming out of the front door to yell at us for throwing rocks.  The unthinkable was that the tires on the massive dump truck locked up, screeching to a halt then slowly rolled back towards us.

I stood frozen on the curbside.  Frozen I suppose half out of fear but also half out of wonderment at the size of the truck rolling back towards me.  I looked up and in the cab was a dark haired handsome fellow with dark sunglasses on.  His hair was brylcreemed back into a swoop and he looked straight at me as he opened the door of the truck.  I watched him climb out of the truck slowly finishing with a little hop on down to the ground.  He turned, looked at me then came over to me.  As he started to talk to me, and only me, I looked around for my accomplices.  They were nowhere to be seen.  Apparently everyone used their brain to run except for me.  I had stood there like an idiot waiting for the truck to make its way all the way back to me.

He began the scolding with a little anger in his voice.  "It is dangerous to throw rocks at vehicles" (yes, he actually said vehicles) and then explained how  rocks could distract a driver causing accidents and all kinds of mayhem that you would not ordinarily see on a quiet suburban street mid morning in the middle of summer.  I stood there all by myself taking in the lecture and actually realizing that he was right, but too frightened to really say anything in response.  Eventually he asked me if I was going to ever throw rocks at cars or trucks again and I answered that I definitely would not ever do that again. A small grin came across his face which he turned back into a scowl as he looked past me and over my shoulder and into the back yard.  He patted me on the head and climb back into the giant truck and began the slow grinding torturing of the truck to continue up the hill.

Suddenly I was surrounded by all my cohorts in the great rock throwing incident asking me about what he had said, if he was going to tell mom and all other types of questions that if they had been there with me they wouldn't have to ask.  I ignored their questions for a bit as I stood at the curbside quietly watching him leave.  His faced was burned into my memory that morning, his voice would be with me for years and the kindness he showed in letting me off with just a lecture impressed me.   While I was running this all through my brain there was a very small part of my mind wondering if my mother had witnessed the confrontation between me and the truck driver.  I don't think she did because I do not remember any punishment for rock throwing on that particular day.

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