My Life As a Feral Child
My childhood was not exactly what would be described as "structured." Consequently, many happy hours were spent in idleness and depravity. I've prepared a map to give you a sense of the neighborhood, with a number key for particularly notable incidents.
1. Magnusson's grocery. Candy, pop, and baseball card gum. Belching contests on the stoop, with Kevin.
2. Phillip 66 gas station. Peeking in the bathroom windows, also with Kevin. They'd let us patch our bike tires there with a vulcanized patch kit that you would light with a match.
3. Parking lot where school buses were stored. Smoked my first cigarette underneath one with Frank J.
4. Field full of trash. Endless opportunities for enjoyment.
5. Site of my first mural- 4x20 feet, in crayon, on the stucco garage across the alley from my house. Remains my largest work to date.
6. Place where the one legged man lived. His yard was full of weird slime balls growing up in the grass.
7. Johnson's dog house. Strip poker. 'Nuff said.
8. Jensen's garage, where Jake kept his Gluek beer.
9. Hanson's. I cut myself on a razor blade there, I had to see if it was really sharp. It was.
10. Home Sweet Home. Site of numerous whippings and many instances of mental abuse. Sandbox in the backyard was a favored meeting place for all the neighborhood cats.
11. Next door. Some kids from Pennsylvania lived there for a while. They talked funny.
12. Mrs. Gustafson's house. She was retired and lived alone, although an old man would show up once in a while. "The old fool" is how she described him on our party line.
13. The new house. When it was under construction, I nearly put out a kids eye with a well aimed rock when we were playing "war" around the excavation. When the house was being built, we'd pee and poop inside. Broke my arm here as well. After the house was finished, a big kid moved in who took all my marbles.
14. Jeanie P. and I got married in her back yard when we were six. Movie footage still exists!
15. The apartment house. Received my first BJ in the alley.
16. The MacAuliff's. Hank was in the Marines in WW1 and had a tattoo to prove it.
17. Home of Arlan the queer. (see #15)
18. Home of Frank J. and his older JD sister.
19. The field where Frank pulled down his little sister's pants. There would always be a stash of porn hidden in the trees there. Mrs. McAuliff would set it on fire from time to time. The swamp was further west, where my older sister made me sit on the big stump under the mushroom shelf.
20. The Big field. It was usually full of unused storm sewer pipes (the big ones), more endless fun, especially with firecrackers.
21. To The Mississippi Courts and the river. Where the mean kids lived.
We moved out in 1960, when I was 10, to a more "refined" area. I had to behave, the houses were only 8 feet apart there, with no fields or dumps, no places for kind of nonsense that we indulged in earlier.