It Doesn’t Take Money to be Rich – A Little Mud Will do Just Fine

Springtime Fun

Springtime Fun

In Boys will be Boys, I wrote about an important life lesson for males – when, and when not to fight.  The big fight in the park did not have to end the way that it did.  The one antagonizing could have simply backed off a bit and everything would have gone just fine that day.  There wouldn’t have been blood or embarrassment for anyone and we would all have just enjoyed our football game. Continue reading

Pete Rose Cardboard Belly Grass-Sliding

Charlie Hustle

Charlie Hustle

 

As I’m writing this week’s story, we’re down south at our Phoenix home.  Our house sits on a corner lot within a baseball’s throw of a small town civic center.  The cross street that our house parallels must be directly on the route to all of the local schools because the buses all stop at the corner, just outside our front door.  Through my kitchen window, I have a direct view of all of the kids and their morning antics.

The high schoolers are boring.  They arrive, they try to act cool and nonchalant, they don’t interact much with each other.  They’d rather be anywhere than where they are and if they didn’t, they certainly aren’t going to show it to their peers.  The elementary kids aren’t much better.  They all act like a bunch of kids (the nerve of them).

The junior high kids; now there’s where the action is.  Continue reading

Season of Youth – the Magic of the Baseball

Charlie Hustle

Charlie Hustle

In Getting the Boys Snipped, I wrote a brief introduction to some of the more famous baseball characters in the Prytania neighborhood.  Today I thought I might try to condense 3-4 years of neighborhood baseball games into one short story.  As I just wrote that last sentence, I had to stop to feel the impact from this statement.  It really was only just a few years of park baseball because we moved into the neighborhood when I was in 5th grade.  My baseball playing group would have become too big for the park when I hit 8th or 9th grade as it was a small park.  It feels like it was so much longer than just a few short years; everything is larger when you’re young, even time itself. Continue reading

Tom’s Cigar Store – First Dollar Store or Giant Man Cave?

Same sign 'forever'

Same sign ‘forever’

How does a person from Hamilton, Ohio describe to others what Tom’s Cigar Store is or what it represents to us ‘Hamiltuckians’?  This isn’t a research paper or an historical document being made suitable for the Smithsonian, (or even for Wikipedia), so I’m not going to spend any time doing any research.  I am merely going to write my own account of Tom’s based on my dozens of personal visits as a child.  Perhaps a few of you fellow Hamiltuckians have some unique and more interesting accounts of your own?  Feel free to enter them in the Comments section.  Continue reading

The Power of Music – Diane was not a Green-Eyed Lady

Diane's Eyes were Brown

Diane’s Eyes were Brown

The other day I was listening to my car radio and heard Carole King’s song, “It’s Too Late”.  After it was over I kept wondering – where is Sugarloaf’s Green Eyed Lady?  All night I was mentally singing to myself It’s too Late which then got followed up in my mind by Green Eyed Lady.  So, I got to thinking about it and I realized that anytime I hear Carole’s song, I just automatically expect to hear the Sugarloaf song immediately afterwards.  Why was that?

I gave it some serious thought and came to the conclusion that it’s connected to a vivid childhood memory of love lost.  My summer girlfriend of 1971 when I was 13 was Diane Mathews.  In hindsight, Diane was my first ‘long-term relationship’.  Diane was a year older than I and attended St. Peters Catholic school, whereas I attended public schools.  She was cool and she was a good athlete.  She became the mold for my perfect woman, the one who I eventually fell in love with and married. Continue reading

Batball – More Favorite Nighttime Activities as a Kid

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Summer evenings were wonderful on Prytania Avenue.  With over 30 kids around my age on our city block, we rarely had a shortage of ideas for new and exciting games to play.  One such game played over the course of 2-3 summers we called “Batball”.  When playing baseball we would need a certain number of kids needed to field a team, gloves for our hands in order to catch the balls, bases (or dirt spots on the ground) and a bat with which to hit the ball.  Baseball was also played during the daytime.

Almost everything about batball was the opposite of baseball.  It was played at night, there were no bases, there were no gloves in batball, there was no team, no runs and no need to keep score.  All that was needed to play batball was a light “whiffle” ball and nature – specifically real bats!  Yes, I’m talking about the flying kind; the kind of bat that could pass rabies to us if it chose to latch onto your neck and suck your blood….those kind of bats.  Bats only come out at night so that’s why this was a nighttime ‘game’.  Actually to be considered an official ‘game’ I guess there has to be some kind of score or at least a winner and a loser.  If we all had fun that night, we all won.  Only once can I ever remember anyone even coming close to being a loser in batball.  The rules of batball were simple and I document them here just in case you would like to play this game for yourself at home. Continue reading

What’s That Smell?

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Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s was wonderful.  Anything and everything that could harm a child and cause a legal suit today could be purchased by anyone at any age.  All you had to know was where to buy it and how you would get the money.  If we had access to an internet, I’m quite certain we would have tried to build a nuclear weapon.  One summer we figured out the ingredients for gunpowder.  Coincidentally, these same ingredients when mixed in a slightly different proportion will yield a great stink bomb.  At this point I must personally plead guilty for this particular kid-caper as it was my idea.  The additional culprits in this caper, (if I recall correctly), were Tom & Diane Mathews (read me).  There might have been a fourth involved, but I just can’t place him. Continue reading

Bucking the Pecking Order

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In all neighborhood kiddoms, there was a well established pecking order which was very simple to follow – grade level.  It had been established hundreds of years ago and it helped to maintain order in the alley.  Being the oldest didn’t necessarily mean you were the strongest in the alley, but we all respected the chain of command where it came to arguments or a minor shoving match.  Never, I repeat, never did I ever witness anyone breaking this rule in the Prytania alley.  The only exceptions were family fights.  Following this rule helped us make sense of the world (and prevented riots).  Continue reading

Playing Purse

grossed out face

Boredom rarely struck growing up on Prytania Ave in the 70’s.  That’s because on our city block alone, the parents there had birthed over 60 children…yes 60.  Of course the ages were varied, but in my ‘baseball age group’ there were at least 30 kids to tap into for entertainment.  One of my favorite night time summer games to play was called “purse”.

Playing purse was easy – all that was required was an old purse from a mom, a little patience and the primary secret ingredient – dog poop.  We would play this game as the sun was going down.  The ball games had ended for the day and it was time for serious evening entertainment.  The game was the invention of Tim (who sadly is no longer with us).  We would acquire an old purse from anyone’s mom and then we would place a few lumps from Tim’s dog kennel.  Next we would wait for no passing cars and then one of us would run out to the middle of the street and drop the purse.  We’d then hide and watch the fun unfold.  I can’t recall just how many times a car would come by, stop to collect the purse and then about midway down the block we’d see the purse come flying out the window!

We’d laugh ourselves silly…..and then reset the bait, waiting for the next victim.