…Jimmy-mum, as he was later known to us, was my very first really best friend forever. I met Jim when I was 5 years old. We are still friends to this day. It was late February 1956. And he was 6. Wow, 6. I couldn’t wait to be 6. He was a shy guy for he hid outside the front of our house on a terraced part of the front yard’s landscape. My mom told me she thought she saw him but he ducked around the side of the house when she looked out the front door. I hurriedly dressed myself as best I could and out I went into the dull grey February afternoon to seek what I could find. Sure enough, there he was, at the side of the house dressed warmly in the frigidness of a late winter’s day.
Want to be friends? I touted.
“Okay” he said
“Okay”, I repeated
My name is John
I am Jim. Want to see my dad’s 56 Ford?
We became fast friends, out and about exploring our small world as best as we could. The Catholic Church, which was located across the road from our house, had an enormous parking lot. It was, in essence, our future ball hockey forum in the fall and winter months while growing enthusiastically in our ripe imaginations as Yankee Stadium in the summer. Our small street with its post war houses, empty muddy lots, small ornamental elm or maple trees on every front lawn and in exactly the same spot became our playground. Unbeknownst to us at the time these post war years were really the genesis of suburban social engineering with a tree on every lot. Oh and those tarred, graveled, blacktop roads. Hated them for in the heat of the summer the tar and the small stones would melt in a gooey charcoal grey fusion mass and stick to the bottom of our “Keds.” “Keds:” my first real pair of running shoes. Black and white “Keds!” I took that moniker to heart and felt that while I wore those treads I had to be running all of the time. They were running shoes after all.
And on those hot humid days of July and August our Moms and Dads would sit on their front door stoops surveying their domains yakking away at the neighbors while monitoring our whereabouts. Not blatantly obviously you see but ever so discreetly. If it was really, really hot and humid they could be found sitting in the cool dark and damp cellars sucking back on an India Pale Ale and drawing on a Buckingham or a Camel, non filter. A real man’s cigarette. Moms too. This generation got through the war not just on their stomachs but by leaning on their nicotine sticks. In those days, everyone smoked.
I loved it best when my mom and dad sat on their front door stoops. Us kids would run around playfully then sit with them listening to their neighborhood gossip, or in my dad’s case, some good ole war stories. Not bad tales of combat but the fun reminiscences of bygone days, the war effort and the antics of his war buddies. If I was really good my Dad would let me have a draught of his cold, amber IPA. I was too young to smoke but I so loved the sweet smell of nicotine in the air that I usually sat downwind and took in the fumes. How I loved those days…
Note this post follows a thread that begins 02 Jan 17.