Tag Archives: car

cracked.

Innocence shattered. A broken reputation. A Cub Scout criminal. My initiation into the wrong side of the law was on a hot summer Sunday afternoon in 1968, when I was just a sun-kissed, freckle-faced, blond-haired skinny kid who was barely 11 years old.

My family had just moved into a newly built home in West Goshen Township. It was a small brick and stucco ranch house on a dead end street situated on a level sixth of an acre. I remember thinking upon entering the side kitchen door and then walking through the dining room, the living room and hallway that it seemed like it took hours to get to my own bedroom in THIS castle. Echoed footsteps on hardwood floors shadowed me from where we moved in our small cramped apartment in the country. I no longer had to share a room with my brother and I no longer had to sleep in the bunk beds of youth.

Freedom for sure… but at what price?

This particularly warm Sunday in June about a month after we moved in, my parents had invited some of our relatives over for a house warming party. The back yard was dotted with aqua blue and sunshine yellow folding web-woven lawn chairs. Red, white and blue Budweiser cans littered a plastic table cloth covered picnic table, as a brand new “colonial orange” charcoal briquette-filled grill from Sears Roebuck puffed white smoke. Several of my laughing aunts and uncles tossed colorful lawn darts toward circular targets among weaving toddlers. Sure, the game was dangerous, but my family was all about living on the edge… and on this day, the family tree was swayin’ and making this branch take a lawless twist to the ground.

In the late afternoon, several of my similarly–aged cousins and I had become bored of the back yard festivities and determined (after we checked with our parents, of course) that perhaps we needed to explore this new uncharted neighborhood and some of its adjoining wild territories. We voted to take a short walk nearby to the newly opened West Goshen Shopping Center across Paoli Pike. We were an eager handful of energetic youngsters looking for an adventure of discovery. We clapped and sang our own made up songs as we strolled to the end of this new street.

Once we crossed the highway, the group of us ran down a hill like an invading army and quickly filled the sleepy “Thrift Drug” store. It was the only store in the whole shopping center that was open on Sundays. We located a large freezer toward the front of the store and began to grab at the boxes of cold, colorful selections of flavored “Twin Popsicles.” The popsicles cost a nickel and they were just what we needed to cool down on this steamy day.

The shopping center was full of stores that were closed on Sundays and was anchored by the ACME Supermarket. The center also included a Hallmark card store, a book store, a Woolworths 5 and 10, a corner hardware store, a men’s clothing store called Ward & Ward and other assorted smaller stores that time has fogged from my memory.

As we sucked the frozen juice of the pops, we left the drug store and came out into the warm summer heat. We headed a short distance toward the ACME where there were groups of neatly stacked chrome shopping carts just begging for our attention. They were all lined up in a straight row of glistening metal baskets on wheels.

I’m not sure exactly who decided to pull a cart out from the pack and start pushing it, but soon the older cousins and I had the smaller kids inside the carts as we shoved them over the sidewalks of the shopping center. Their squeals of laughter at riding in these buggies provoked us to push faster as we raced each other in a frenzy of four-wheeled fun. Back and forth we went, occasionally bumping into each other while the sweaty tiny passengers with cherry red Popsicle lips were giggling at the metallic crash that the carts would echo under the awning of our cement sidewalk “street.” We continued smashing into each other creating loud metal on metal crashes.

“Faster!” the kids would scream. “We want to go to the train station over there!” as they pointed their tiny fingers across the lot. They were indicating that the Ward and Ward Men’s store entrance was the station where we would pretend to fuel our carts and load and unload our tiny passengers. Ward and Ward had an indented entrance. Their doorway was off the main sidewalk allowing their floor to ceiling height windows to display more suits, slacks, shirts, neckties and shiny shoes. It was the PERFECT “train station.”

We quickly made it a race to see who could get there first, bumping each other along the short path to the “station.” There was room for two or three of our carts to be in this “station” area at a time. I had two of my little cousins in my cart as we spun around quicker, now in circles in a race in this tiny vestibule of glass. I too, the driver, was getting dizzy as we laughed then choked as we gasped for air. Suddenly, my cart got out of control and SMASHED directly into the front large glass window of the shop.

It was as if slow motion took over as I remember watching my small cousins turn white from the shock of crashing into the window. I remember watching the glass crack from the point of impact then shatter in large pieces as a deafening alarm went off echoing even louder in the cramped area. I watched in open-mouthed amazement as the cart actually continued traveling into the shop itself as my cousins hopped out of the cart onto crunching glass and out of the store as they ran past me.

I froze. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t move. All I heard was the shrieking alarm and my feet were glued to the floor of the sidewalk. As I turned slowly around, I could see all my cousins running toward home, a few of them looking back with frightened faces to see if I was coming. “Come on Eddy!” they mouthed, “We have to get home now!” I was still stuck to the ground as my numbed mind began to awaken and I started to run. My cousins were almost near the highway as I tried to pick up my lagging, dreamlike pace.

Suddenly I heard the loud wails of sirens. Quickly, flashing red and blue lights were everywhere as I panicked and stopped in my tracks. I was immediately surrounded by West Goshen Police cars, with no way out. I watched as my cousins crossed the highway in the distance and were quickly out of sight.

I was an emotional child growing up. I was very shy and would cry at the drop of a hat. I once cried to get out of a school holiday play in the second grade so I wouldn’t have to put on a homemade doctor’s uniform to the girl’s nurses costumes. It was pathetic. And now, with this shattered window fiasco, I began to tear up thinking I was going to jail for a very long time.

I stood there motionless as the two policemen approached me with pads of paper out and looking like they were ready to cart me off to some unknown prison in the bowels of a West Goshen Township Building somewhere. The alarm continued to scream as I imagined a diet of bread and water and a hard iron holed bed with no mattress and I began to sob. This was no way to begin my initiation into this new neighborhood. I cried harder still, as the two policemen looked at each other and shrugged. The taller one put his hand on my shoulder and asked me to take a seat in the back of his still flashing police car. I was devastated. I could see a handful of Sunday shoppers looking at me. I was ashamed. I became a criminal that day.

The store’s alarm finally stopped.

My ears still ringing, I watched in silence as the policemen took notes, observed the scene of the crime, took a few measurements and put up some yellow tape. Was I going to be on the news? Would my name be in the paper? Would I get out of doing my math homework? I was contemplating my ruined future as my Dad rolled up in his black Ford Falcon with red bucket seats. Tears began to pour down my cheeks as he strolled up to the police officers while he glanced my way.

All I could think of was that I JUST got a new bed room and now I wouldn’t get to use it. What would my Mom think? Would my family have to move from their new home in shame? My Dad was making gestures and continued to talk as the tall officer continued to write on his yellow pad. Finally, Dad turned and started to walk toward me. I couldn’t read his face through my red and throbbing eyes. He told me to get out of the car and to hop in his. I stood as he slipped his arm around my shoulder and whispered that I would have to pay for the shattered window.

I never did.

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rear window.

image courtesy IMDB

Daryl and I have lived at our current location for close to 5 years now. Our 2nd floor condo has a small tastefully decorated patio that overlooks several other areas of our condo-opolis. During the warm days of summer, I like to partake in the occasional cocktail whilst (hate pretentious writers that use that word, but I’ve always wanted to use it myself just because… I can) observing this condo-opolis community whilst tossing the obligatory three-finger wave to those neighbors that insist on communicating.

I remember, as a teen, being infatuated with the 1954 Hitchcock thriller, entitled Rear Window staring James Stewart and Grace Kelly (not to be confused with a favorite porn flick entitled “Back Door” starring Mitch Cock). I’ve always considered myself an “observer” of life’s situations and I believed to have a front row seat (albeit a WHEELchair and armed with high-power binoculars) like Mr. Stewart would be the perfect way to do just that!

That being said, I have recorded several “observations” from our 2nd story patio. We live in a rather diverse neighborhood, so please bear in mind that I am in no way perpetuating stereotypes, however I can only say what I saw… see what I saw… seesaw…

These observations are in no particular order:

Mexicans do all the landscaping.

Black men do all the trash pick up.

“The Gays” have the prettiest patios.

Lesbians have the sturdiest decks.

Italians have the smallest decks, but act like they’re huge.

Baptists play Gospel music the loudest (for some reason more so when the gays/lesbians are having friends over).

Thugs always have cars with tinted windows, the deepest bassed music blaring from the tiniest of speakers and usually three out of four shiny hubcaps.

Republicans always fly American flags.

Democrats usually have pretty flower or cute bunny flags.

Blue collar maintenance men have the filthiest mouths and the nicest asses.

Fat people don’t pick up their dog’s shit.

Men always spit.

Retired folks always have a bench or a chair just outside their front door, under a hand-made wreath.

The mailman has the best looking legs.

Little kids always stomp UP the hall stairs, run DOWN the hall stairs, and never fail to SLAM the front door.

The UPS guy is always hot.

Birds always dive at rogue cats.

Cats always ignore diving birds.

And finally, baby strollers are beginning to look like SUV’s as are the Mother’s pushing them.

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The Attack of the 50 Foot Mummy?

Yvette Vickers, a B-movie actress and former Playboy Playmate was recently found mummified in her dilapidated Hollywood residence. Apparently she was undiscovered for over a year.

Being a huge science fiction fan when I was a young lad, I used to stare at the television on Saturday mornings watching our local Doctor Shock’s “Creature Double Feature.” I actually remember getting lost one rainy morning in one of Ms. Vickers more popular classics entitled “Attack of the 50-foot Woman.” At the time, I didn’t really GET the tight, torn in-all-the-right-places frock that highlighted the giant woman’s um… assets, but I DID find myself wondering what it would be like to be that tall trouncing around a desert town in black and white while picking up cars like toys, frightening local residents and smashing down buildings with the flick of a wrist. Ah, the power of it all!

Sigh. Her gigantic power apparently waned.

I’ve often wondered HOW a death can go THAT unnoticed? Especially after being a Playboy Playmate of the fifties? I thought they had it all, literally. I was always under the assumption that a pretty face and great boobs would allow a woman to find eternal happiness and a lifetime of pool parties, photo ops and perfect performances.

Apparently, a happy ending and the flash of camera bulbs don’t go on forever.

Unfortunately, being found like this is a large fear of mine when I get older. I’ve had nightmares about it. I imagine one hot summer’s day, I’ll be discovered in my tattered underwear seated in a tasteful recliner where I’ve been glued to the seat with smelly, albeit colorful, bodily fluids. My smile will be half eaten by the cat while I am still clutching a wine glass with a few drops of a good cabernet sauvignon at the bottom and there will be a plate of fly ridden cracker crumbs on the table next to me. The TV will have remained on and a rerun of I Love Lucy will be playing a little too loud, maybe the episode of the Vitameatavegamin commercial. Hopefully, whatever hair I have left will have been combed.

I currently wonder how could no one find ME until a year or two later?

I suppose I should begin NOW by making sure I always have a backup friend to check up on me if I’m not heard from in 2 or 3 consecutive days. I have over 200 Face Book friends so surely one or two of them will notice if I don’t post for an extended period of time. I promise to be nicer and more attentive to all of you.

In the meantime…

… may you rest in pieces Yvette, you will be missed.

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LOST: my patience.

I lost my patience this morning and it was barely 9:30 a.m.

It all began when I started the day off by spilling coffee (luckily cooled) on my shirt as I was getting ready to leave for a morning of errands. I really didn’t HAVE to be in a hurry, but I wanted to get the errands done early so I could relax and enjoy my afternoon off. It took me a few minutes to change my shirt and clean up the coffee mess but I could tell my patience was testing me and I did not like it.

As I started my car, I noticed that my tank was near empty, so I traveled the closest gas station to fill my tank with gas at $4.04 per gallon that I had to pump myself. I believe the focus groups of the gas companies think that by positioning a television over the pump that you will be so enamored by watching the local weather report that you won’t notice the pump silently slipping passed the price of a decent dinner out for two.

I miss the good old days of the early seventies when a nice gentleman in a freshly pressed dark blue uniform with the name “Bud” sewn over a left pocket would greet you with a smile and ask you if you’d like to fill it up at 50 cents a gallon. He’d place the gas nozzle into your tank and then proceed to check your oil with blue paper towel in hand. After gently closing the hood of the car, he’d cheerfully clean front and back windshields, at times even whistling while doing so. I was abruptly jolted from my nostalgic stroll down memory lane by a dark blue Volkswagen Jetta with tinted windows pulling in behind me at the station with music so loud I thought for sure my windshield was going to crack. I replaced the nozzle back in the pump after dripping some on my hand, and hopped in my car smelling like a small refinery. My patience testing me once again as I tried to breathe deeply while inhaling toxic fumes.

After pulling out of the gas station onto Route 3, I began following a small red construction truck of a local contractor, noted by several paint splattered ladders precariously tied to the side of its bed and what appeared to be several large drips of dried white paint originating from the bed of the truck, streaming down the length of the bumper. Personally, I would not hire this contractor with the actual physical evidence of his careless work ethic on display.

I could tell from my rearward position on the road that apparently there was a very animated conversation going on between the driver of the truck and the three other men squeezed like sardines in the cab of the vehicle. Arms and hands were flailing, heads were bobbing and shaking and it was obvious that they were discussing the inadequacies of their work ethic at the paint job from yesterday OR perhaps they were vehemently arguing over some sporting event disappointment. I’m guessing the latter. This distraction was causing the driver to travel at a rate of speed equal to that of a large snail. I got impatient because a large Michelob truck was on my left and I could not pass to begin my day off of errand running. I crept behind the truck for the better part of 2 miles at this slow pace before honking my horn and finally managing to scoot around it to turn onto the exit for the mall. I literally said out loud, “I’ve lost my patience already.”

I got to thinking; would I ever find my patience again? Where DOES it go when it’s lost? I mean, it’s not like losing your keys, or losing your wallet. Although I DID think I lost my wallet last year at an after work Cinco de Mayo celebration that went on a little too late-o. I remember trying to locate the wallet and calling the bar to no avail. I retraced my path to my car with no luck. I decided to call then cancel all my credit cards and debit card. I purchased new license and registration ID online while freaking out over how stupid I could have been. I didn’t discover until the following day when I took my suit to the dry cleaners, that my wallet was located in the jacket pocket of the suit I wore to the bar. I came close to losing my patience back then too.

Losing your patience is easy. It’s not like losing your virginity, your religion or worse… your mind. Right? I guess I need to learn to be calmer; to relax and enjoy it when life slows me down. I’d count to 10 but I get impatient by the count of 6.

In the meantime, if you are out and about and happen to stumble into my patience, please be kind to it, grab it by the hand and let it stay the night but call me in the morning and I’ll come pick it up. I’ll even bring coffee.

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can you hear me now?

Hooray! The sun is out, the temperature is fast approaching eighty degrees, and the breeze is light. Summer’s beginning whisper is here at last and car windows are down. So why does the music from YOUR piece o’ crap car need to shout at me?

I don’t get it.

On second thought, yes I do. I was young once. Truly I was! I tell my kids stories of when I used to smoke pot and swallow just about anything that didn’t swallow me first; I share stories of keg parties in fields with bonfires that used to go on, even until the light of day. They look at me and say… “Sure Dad, like the book Go Ask Alice right?”

I do remember at around the age of 16, piling a record SEVEN people into my 1967 candy apple red sun-roofed Volkswagen Beetle and trying to shift into second gear while having my hand up someone’s ass on our way to a party at Westtown Mews. It was insane and I just had a problem saying no if others needed a ride. We would be listening to 8-track tapes of David Bowie’s “Suffragette City,” or Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Free Bird.” We’d have the windows down, with cigarettes ablaze while singin’ at the top of our lungs. Looking back now, I don’t think WE ever really cared about who else’s world we were invading with OUR sound.

Today though, I need to be more open minded and non-judgemental; more free-wheeling; more fly by the seat of my pants! Who cares if I’m stuck in traffic on Interstate 95 next to you with the base so low it rattles to the very core of my bones, while I feel my eyeballs slowly vibrating out of their sockets? Who cares if the words fuck, bitch, gun, kill and nigga literally rape MY ears? I’ll just start peckin’ my head along with your music and hopefully you’ll be freaked out enough to think that an older person likes it… and turn it off.

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Eff this Weather!

I’m a little confused. Okay, I’m totally effing baffled!

I guess I’ve never really thought about it THAT much before, but WHY do some folks INSIST on NOT removing the snow from the top of their vehicles after a storm? Usually it’s not much of an issue in Chester County because, we usually just have to deal with the occasional snow “burst” or a full blown blizzard every five to ten years.

But for some reason, the winters from 2009 through 2011 seem to be FURTHER proof that Global Warming IS a fact and that the Ice Age Cometh OR as the college-educated, over-paid, under-knowledgeable, albeit pretty “Meteorologists” tell us, it’s just an EL NINA.

It’s not even the end of January this year and we seem to be breaking, or soon to be breaking, snowfall records for the year. Forecasts indicate that we are in for a very long, very snowy winter. That being said, we SHOULD have LOTS of practice at not only driving in it, but in cleaning it from our vehicles BEFORE we venture out into the street with the rest of the snow-freed public.

The other day, I’m driving down Route 202 south to work. Some “chick” in front of me loses an entire 7-inch thick IMPRESSION of her car (imagine an automobile ice sculpture) which flies like frickin’ Chitty Chitty Bang Bang right on top of my windshield! Luckily, the windshield held up and I didn’t need to swerve into another vehicle. Seriously?! Could she not THINK that the snow she NEGLECTED to remove would eventually hit someone? Sigh. I just don’t get it, but then she’s probably the type of person who drinks milk out of the container and leaves a swig of backwash for her roommate.

I have a sidebar theory about these types of folks. THEY are the ones most likely to survive an airplane fire or a sinking ship because they’re the ones who step over everyone else to get to the exits. Survivor syndrome be damned!

Try being less self-involved and do ME a favor? Clean off your ENTIRE car before the next snowstorm. From what I understand, it’s the LAW in Delaware.

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