It is difficult for me to distinguish between being a kid today and what it was like when I was the same age. Lot of changes in the landscape of life over the years, so making a proper distinction for me, I often find hard. Take bullies for example, in my day they were often a physical issue type of thing, today as an adult, they are a verbal Internet problem for the most part. Some folks have even described me as a Bully from time to time, just for asserting my position on some issue. Most of us at one time have dealt with a bully, one way or the other, mine came to me early in life, first or second grade as I remember it.
We didn’t have pocket money like kids of today, you needed milk money first, I remember that. Every day we had to ask Mom or Dad for some milk money. The first time I lost my milk money, I was just a little shaver and some big guy (5th grader) took it from me in the boys bathroom.
Later on that day, I came home and told my Dad about it, figuring it was “the right thing to do” and he got all hacked off, and beat my butt, for not being brave enough to face the bully. He told me “You don’t let anyone walk over you and you don’t allow them to do it to anyone that is weaker. You understand?”
I only lost my milk money one time, from that point on, it was fight, game on, this is mine. I did my best to go the distance and a lot of times, got my butt stomped more than once. But never gave up.
Unfortunately this strategy turned out to be no good, because eventually they send you to the office. Where you are labeled a trouble maker by the adults in charge, when in fact, all you were doing was protecting your interests.
Then it finally happened, the other shoe dropped.
In 1957, we had a bully move into our neighborhood, and he quickly made his presence known to all of us. He was 13-14 and he liked to pick on the “little kids” which just did not seem the right thing to do.
One day he chased a ten year old into my Dad’s garage, and yelled at the poor kid to come outside. Alfred Meadows, scared half-way out of his wits, refused to move. He just stood behind me and cowered in fear.
I thought to myself, “Nuts, this is not going to be good.” and I remember what Dad had told me years before. Somehow I mustered up enough courage and I told the bully, “leave him alone. Just go away. You have no business here.” He then said, “I will take care of you first and then I will have my way with him.”
This is not going well, no sir.
“One more time Dennis (we all knew his name) … This is my Dad’s place and you have no business here. Leave Alfred alone and go away.”
So Dennis said, “What are you going to do about it runt?” and I just walked over and picked up my #27 Louisville Slugger (wooden little league baseball bat) and said, “I will show you.” Might have been about five minutes later I suppose, when “I took the baseball bat and I broke Dennis Troy’s arm with it.”
At that time Mr. Troy decided to vacate the property.
Forty-five minutes later my Dad came home from work and asked me what is going on? He knew something was going on, way too many kids on his driveway. So I told it to him, basically the same way I am telling you, word for word. He smiled and said, “You are learning boy, good for you.” Then he took me and Alfred out for Ice Cream.
That was some fifty-seven years ago … My Dad died of cancer 21 years ago … There are days, some days like today, where I really miss my Old Man.