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calendar   Tuesday - May 29, 2012

YOUNG AND DUMB IN 1951

YOUNG AND DUMB IN 1951

Having recently passed my 75th year of being with some surprise, my immediate thought has been it’s all-downhill from here.

Looking back in time, I can honestly say I have been one lucky dude. 
Oh sure, some rough patches here and there. But overall pretty darn lucky.
I guess the luckiest part is that I was born in the USA. I realize for some that might not mean as much as it does to me.  No flag waving but rather a statement of fact.
image

Some things have bothered me over time. A guilty conscience I guess of wrongs I have done either to others through thoughtlessness or to myself by being just plain stupid at times. I wish I had been a bit less selfish and more considerate of others. And I sure wish I’d been better prepared to take advantage of opportunities I slept through, ignored or refused.  But nothing exactly criminal. Erm, well not…? I have to think about this. I guess stealing is criminal no matter how insignificant the stolen item appears to be at the time.  Being young and dumb is no excuse for theft.  Even when it still seems so funny. 

When I was very young I was part of a small group of close friends. We were not a gang exactly.  We never went looking for trouble and none of us ever carried any kind of weapon.  We were all in our early to middle teens. We hung out together like the Three Musketeers except there were five of us goofballs.

Summers in Ct. could be hot and humid and one of our number discovered a faulty milk dispensing machine near his house, and shared this momentous find with the rest of the mob.  He found that by placing a hand in just the right spot and then hitting it with some force with the flat of a hand, a pint of milk would drop out.  And, if you hit it in another “just the right spot” you might get chocolate milk although that proved quite a bit more difficult.  More often then not however, all we got was a very sore hand, and one of our number broke his little finger in the attempt.  Which provided the remaining four of us with an entire summer of jibes and jokes and hilarity well into the fall of 1951.
Hey, it was milk. Not booze.
We were …..  Wholesome teens? Ha.

It was not long at all before the dairy that owned the machine replaced it. 
Now I ask you.  What sort of teen gang is hot for milk, of all things?
Oh, we were desperados all right.

Some while later fortune smiled when a soda machine was found and gave up its treasure, provided care and patience and some dexterity was used in the effort.
But I believe it was during that period when my addiction to milk began. Sure, it starts with a pint but grows from there.

My mother worked long hours in the family store and one time I recall she took about ten days off and with my grandmother, who I doubt ever had any kind of vacation, went on a group outing or tour of some kind.  This left me in charge of the house.

Talk about an innocent age.  Someone got some beer, and hot dogs, and coke. The drinking kind, and we had a weeklong party. No damage to property and nobody actually got puking drunk.  Tight maybe and pretty damn silly but not much else. I make it look like we were boy scouts.  Of course, we were not and all I am relating besides memories are the things I’m willing to share.  The rest stays buried in my head. 

A RAID ON HARTFORD
One very late night or very early morning but still dark out, and with one of our number now in possession of his very own car, we piled in and cruised the empty streets of Hartford.  I have no idea what we were looking for but it more or less found us.  Someone mentioned being hungry and suggested looking for a place that might still be opened.  This is in the days before IHOP.  Something opened at that hour?  In Hartford?  Fat chance of that.  Someone suggested we drive to New York cos NY was always open and bright.  We did not that night, but did later. Well there we were aimlessly riding nowhere and while turning down some street we saw a small truck or van making deliveries of some kind, to various closed restaurants.
Bread mostly, in the form of rolls.  Well, given the times and the cold war, it could have been a drop for Soviet spies with codes hidden in all those delicious fresh rolls.
Which we of course proceeded to capture for our own evil and gastronomic needs.

I know it’s not right but I just cannot help laughing when I recall those times.
We brought the loot back to my house, and I do not recall how there were suddenly enough eggs to supply five hungry young males. Was that truck delivering eggs as well?  On reflection, I wish we had not done that. But we did.
So, that’s my criminal past.  Almost.

ANOTHER BOLD RAID
There was one more raid our happy and carefree group of fools made that night.

By now we were organised and ready and so we raided a canvas covered truck parked on the street. It had no door on the back. Almost like an army truck with a drop down gate at the back.  I have no idea after all this time why that street and that truck or even why Keith stopped to look. (Keith was the one with the car) Anyway, I wasn’t driving and expected to go right back to HQ at my house.
One of the guys got out, climbed into the open back of the truck, and struck pay dirt.  A major find. 
We were now in possession of a truck load of ….  potatoes!

Sacks and sacks of them.  We didn’t need the entire load but I don’t remember how many there were. I know we took what we thought we needed and left perhaps a dozen sacks of spuds on said truck.  We ended up eating French fries everyday and night for a week.  Even now, all these years later, anytime I have fries I recall that event.  And how’s this for a related story.  What are the odds?
You could not make it up.  Read on.

Some days later, a woman who worked in our store whose name was Sidney, happened to mention to someone else that her husband’s truck that had potatoes in it was robbed of several sacks.  The lady she was speaking to was another employee and her name was Minnie.  Funny how I remember those names.  Well, it turned out that both Sidney and Minnie were found to be stealing cash from the store and had ripped it off for quite a bit over time.  Not hard to do in the days before credit cards, computers and scanners. Sales were usually in cash.  The only ones to pay by check were business buyers and they bought in large amounts.
So, Minnie and Sidney were fiddling with the receipts that were spiked alongside the cash register and pocketing cash.

Funny what sort of things one remembers.  I will have to do more of this as time dwindles away.  Talk about boyhood heroes who were mostly musicians but before I discovered them, there was Big Al.  Al Capone, and Ben Siegel and Murder Inc. The last two that proved Jews could be really tough guys too. At least the American variety. Even now, I do not refer to Siegel as ‘bugsy’ out of long lasting respect. 
As he once famously said. “We only kill each other.” Another group of mostly Jew boy tough guys was the Purple Gang.  And even though he wasn’t Jewish or a gangster, it all started with James Cagney in The Public Enemy.  Movies could influence even back then.  This of course was before I discovered Jews with real careers and talent. Like Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman and the Gershwins and Jack Benny and Jolson and Alan King and a host of others. Hooray. I did not have to be a mobster and get shot after all. Well that was a relief!

btw.  Musicians are still my heroes! If I couldda been anything in the world, that is the one calling I’d most like to have had.


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Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 05/29/2012 at 10:03 AM   
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