Do you realize it's been almost 2 months since my last Nostalgic Moment? I've severely let you, myself, and Zoe (my pet rat) down. Nostalgic Moments were the reason I started blogging, but with everything going on at Christmas, the New Year, and of course Resoredo Day, I've forgotten one of the most important elements of my life.
The question I'm posed with now is what part of my life's history do I want to dial up and broadcast for the world to see? And when I say world, I mean all 49 of you (give or take a few.)
To preface this memory, I must go on record and make a bold claim. The neighborhood where I'm from, in that far away place called Winchester, Kentucky, was the greatest neighborhood for any kid to grow up in. If I could draw (and I can't), I would fashion you an accurate map of the battleground I and my friends called LaSalle Drive. Instead for this Nostalgic Moment, I will describe to you the land where I come from and, for that matter, the land where Hashbrown's neighborhood was born.
My house sat almost at the top of a slow-rising hill where directly behind our back yard was a field that was off-limits to youngsters. Supposedly, there were criminals hiding out in the dark woods that would shoot you with rock salt if you got too close. And, of course, you might stumble upon The Crypt where the man in black patrolled. We had a secret passageway under our stairwell which was perfect for hide and seek and for discovering early Christmas gifts. We owned a deck that was the source of many of my injuries and a clump of fitzer bushes next to the garage that were perfect for scaring younger trick-or-treaters.
Across the street and a few houses down lived a boy that we'll call Kermit, to protect the innocent. Kermit owned an arsenal of weapons: knives, swords, throwing stars, and the deadliest cross-bow I've ever seen. I once witnessed him shoot one of my friends with that cross-bow, but I'll spare you the details. Kermit was dangerous at six years old, but by the age of eleven, he was downright lethal. Kermit also owned the fort where we all hung out every afternoon after school. It wasn't a tree house, per se, but more of a house raised up on stilts high above the trees. It was from that fort where I had to make an emergency stop at the hospital because I chose to leap from the platform when a simple game of hide and seek turned sour one fateful afternoon. Kermit's family eventually moved away before I hit junior high and the next family had a couple of idiotic boys that picked up right where Kermit left off. I tell you, that house was cursed. The older boy loved throwing clumps of doggie doo at sports cars and the younger boy, once tried to chop down the stilt house with an axe... while we were in it! Yeah, he was 7 and the axe was bigger than him, but still!
One house down from Kermit, lived another family with a boy my age who was almost just as lethal, if not the poster child for hyperactivity. We'll call him Chad. I'm not very good with regular names and for those of you that have read my books will probably agree. Whenever Kermit and Chad patrolled the neighborhood you could almost guarantee that trouble wasn't too far behind. They were both my friends periodically and unfortunately, also my enemies. We fought more than our share of battles (most of the time I had to pick myself off the ground fighting back tears and nursing scraped knees, but on occasion, I was the victor.) I still remember the day when Kermit pushed Chad from the fort and broke his arm while we were all busy hoarding buckeyes and walnuts to pelt at the rival kids from over the creek in Lyndell. Chad had a partial forest behind his house as well, where tall weeds made perfect places to lay low in after a night of toilet papering. His family also owned a barely used wood pile on the edge of the forest where my friends and I carved out another fort to utilize whenever Kermit's stilt house was off limits because he was being grounded for attempted murder. More like a log cabin, the wood pile provided the perfect hideout right after we destroyed one of our neighbor's garden in our vegetable fight with the Lyndell gang. Ah, the memories.
Next to Chad's house, the sidewalk ended and became a pathway of dirt, we kids called "The Ramps". I'm not too proud to say that I ate more than my share of pavement on those Ramps due to dares and bets. Some boys were born to steer the bikes... others, like myself, were born to ride atop the handle bars. Not smart.
My neighborhood also had a healthy amount of wildlife as well. Next door lived Medusa, the satanic cat, and Toto, the three-legged cocker spaniel, that twice took on a UPS truck and lived to tell the tell, if not missing a few limbs. Lucy, was a Boxer, that seemed to one day appear out of a metal trash can. That dumb dog had a death wish and would not back down from attacking no matter how many water balloons you'd chuck at her. Up the hill beside my house lived Doc, part horse/part Rottweiler. It didn't matter if you were riding safely in the family car, you still ducked whenever that massive beast would shake the bay window with it's bloody paws.
Most neighborhoods have a haunted house that steers kids away. Mine had four. There was the house on the same property of The Crypt, where an old lady in white would spend the twilight hours rocking on a porch swing with her eyes rolled in the back of her head. There was the house where "The Stacy" lived. I can't go into too much details about "The Stacy" because the stories of her that my sister would tell me on dark nights are still too troubling for me. Let's just say "The Stacy" held weekly seances and owned an extensive collection of goat skulls. There was the grey house at the end of the neighborhood where the road turned to head toward Old Boonesboro. Everyone knew about the ghosts that haunted that property. Spirits of elderly couples that die on train tracks, don't rest easy, as you all should know. And let's not forget the ghost of the farm worker that was attacked and killed by hundreds of turkeys years before any of the houses were built. Oh, it's true all right. Kermit and Chad swore that it was.
Lastly, if this wasn't enough to convince you of the uniqueness of my neighborhood, let's not forget about the bullies. There was Jon-Jon, who once made me hang out in an igloo for four hours on a Saturday afternoon. There was also Chad's older brother, Mumphry, who knew every swear word in the book and once hit his own dad with the family car... on purpose! There was Stanley, the high school kid that would show up to our routine football games wearing pads and a helmet and would treat us little guys like bowling pins. There was that one adult dude, don't know his name and can't think of a fake one at the moment, that would strut around the neighborhood with his shirt off and loved smacking us whenever we were in reach. I can remember saying a silent prayer one evening when that dude came charging toward "The Ramps" where we were all practicing our BMX tricks. He started shouting at us because he wanted to find the culprit that knocked the bike chain off his daughter's princess bike. We played dumb. Like we'd ever rat out one of our friends to that psycho.
Every house but mine owned a partially-destroyed motorcycle you could find up on blocks in the drive way at any given moment. Every dad but mine wore a moustache that conveniently disguised their expressions. You never knew when they were serious or not and that posed a problem whenever you were on the verge of getting into mischief. The creek had an endless supply of tadpoles, snakes, and tennis shoes. There were always kids, not the cool ones, but the smart ones, toting a red wagon up and down the street filled with bottles to be recycled for money. And most kids, practically all of us, smelled of Bactine and triple anti-biotic ointment. There were ticks, chiggers, mosquitoes, and cicadas. The nights in the summer were lit up by fireflies and illegal fireworks. And if you forgot your special toy at some one's house, or had to make a major pit stop because your bathroom was just too far away, you could simply walk through any one's unlocked door at all hours of the night, unannounced.
Yep, that was my neighborhood. There are hundreds of descriptions I'm leaving out because this post has gone on too long. All of it was true, at least, as my memory serves me. Can yours beat that?