So here we all are in Mrs. Fuller’s class. Girls and boys. Boys and girls. All next to each other. For some reason things seem different. Normally, at least up until now, boys were repulsed by girls. They were in the parlance of the times, icky. We were gross. But suddenly for some reason none of us could put a finger on we wanted them to think well of us.
Being boys we really didn’t know how to accomplish this and also because we couldn’t put a finger on it we were somewhat ambivalent about it. That resulted in mixed messages. I doubt seriously that any girl is really interested in skunk cabbages or dead frogs but for some reason we thought they might be. We suddenly felt okay with them playing games with us. Not all games but certain ones. Kick the Can and the Gun Game in particular. Also we moved the location of the games to their houses.
All of a sudden we were playing Kick the Can at the Collinge’s which was a half block from my house on W. Mantua Ave. Kathy lived next to the Cook’s on one side and Sharon Hoffman on the other. The games spilled through all three yards. The Collinge home had a large palazzo type front porch with rock walls and slate flooring and we were able to execute daring leaps to escape capture.
The Cook’s house had a small playhouse in the rear corner which was also an ideal hiding place. I think the main attraction of all these games was hiding in close proximity to young women. We weren’t sure what that would mean but we certainly looked forward to it.
I developed my first crushes on both Kathy and Sharon and they continued, switching from one to the other till the end of sixth grade. I’m still not certain which of them I preferred. Kathy was bright and Sharon was cuter so maybe it would have been better if they could have become one person. At any rate when I look at their picture I’m quite certain it was not their stylish outfits that drew me to them. Nor mine.
There were older girls who were far more attractive and even more scary. From Peggy Sacca to Cheryl Furey to Donna Hambrecht the world was filled with girls changing into women and really I had no way of coping.
I’d spend my afternoons on my paper route spinning elaborate fantasies about saving them from an invading Russian Army and taking them to live with me and my band of brave guerilla warriors in the swamps of the Mantua Creek. Of course the woodland there was roughly a hundred yards wide so I’m certain I would never have been found by determined Russian soldiers.
I’ll leave you then with me on my new red, Schwinn Typhoon. Riding one handed down Cherry Street with a basket of Woodbury Daily Times in a bag in the front. I rise up to toss one to the Fleming house and a Russian drops dead from my well thrown knife. Like a ghost I travel these mean streets. A vengeful, sexy, killing ghost. Alone. Cool. With a flannel shirt and lined dungarees and the sure knowledge I had to be home for dinner in a half hour.