Saturday, October 10, 2009

40 on 40: My First Friends and Surviving Scary Mr. S

I'm not sure how we all met. I just remember we seemed to all be playing together from the beginning.

Camille and her brother Jamie, David and his brother Jason, Joey and my sister and I. For some reason, I remember more of us, but maybe that was it.

David and Jason had a dog named Boo. He went everywhere the boys went. We'd run up and down the street and play at every one's house. We were a tricycle/Big Wheel gang if there ever was one. We would run up and down the side walk, often times into Clover Street, as it seemed that no one ever drove their car down that road. Lots of laughing, squealing, yelling and barking. Until HE came out.

"He" was the dreaded, scary, cranky, senile, mean Mr. S. I think he could hear a pin drop, if a child dropped it. Often times he'd send his poor suffering wife out to yell at us. You couldn't touch a blade of grass in his yard or he'd know it and would stand at the door and yell. He even preferred we not touch his side walk. He was scary. I think we all thought he'd eat little children lie the witch in the story Hansel and Gretel.

I remember one sunny day we were all playing with Boo following us gang of kids. He was barking gleefully, his tongue flopping about as he dashed and hopped among us. Mr. S. came out and yelled for us to "shut-up" and he called the dog pound to take Boo. Jason started to cry and we all ran to our mothers. I think Camille's mom came out and stood on his front side walk and yelled back at him. That he should be ashamed of scaring little kids and what a horrible man he was. The complaint had been lodged, Boo was running around without a leash. I don't remember Boo running around the neighborhood with us again after that.

For my sister and I (yes, I have 2 sisters, but the second sister wasn't born yet), the only save place from Mr. S was either inside our house or at someone else's house. If we sat on our swing set and sang songs at the top of our little lungs, he'd come out and yell. If he could see us from his kitchen window, he'd come out and yell.

One summer, my mom planted green beans along the fence. I remember the terror of being sent out to pick those green beans. I cried, I wouldn't do it because I'd have to go into Mr. S's yard. My mom yelled at me to go pick the beans. Boy talk about a dilemma!

Touch a blade of Mr. S's grass and be eaten alive or get spanked for disobeying my mom.

I went to pick the beans.

Sure enough, the first grass blade broken must have set alarm bells ringing. Mr. S. came out in a rage! I ran back into our house. My mom walked back out determined that I'd pick those beans and Mr. S. would have to suck it up. He yelled at my mom, something about the beans on his side of the fence belonged to him. My mom yelled back and sent me marching to what I thought was my death, to pick those darn beans. My mom stood on the back porch of our house, arms crossed, staring Mr. S down. I timidly crept along Mr. S's side of the fence, picking the beans while Mr. S yelled. I peed my pants I was so scared.

Eventually, several years later, Mr. S died. When he did, it was like new life had been breathed into his wife. Instead of yelling at us when we sat and sang on the swings, she'd compliment us on our pretty voices. My youngest sister befriended the S's grandchildren, who came to visit once Mr. S was dead. She'd play with them on the front porch, their yard or in their house, places that to us older kids would have meant certain death.

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