The Summer of 1977

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
A look back on this author's 10th year.

Submitted: April 13, 2017

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Submitted: April 13, 2017

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In the summer of 1977 you could hear “Barracuda” “Feels Like the First Time” or “Carry On My Wayward Son” blasting from car radios driving by. We watched “Happy Days” every Tuesday night and “The Waltons” every Thursday. Our shorts were short and our socks were to our knees. It cost two dimes to swim at the city pool and we’d collect pop bottles to get in. I was ten years old that summer and I just couldn’t seem to stay out of trouble.

There were a few things a boy had to have at that time; a ball cap, a good glove and some wheels. But even if he didn’t have the first two he most certainly had the last. A boy wasn’t completely free without a bike. At ten I rode mine everywhere. I knew every street and every alley. I was in all the stores, even the Head shop that used to sell records on F street. I knew all the gas station attendants by name, I knew the parts counter guys, the barber's, some of the preachers and the lady who use to sell us sour pickles or beer sausages at the old fruit stand at the edge of town. I knew which soda machine you could jerk a bottle out for free, the inside of a half dozen abandoned houses (and maybe a few that weren’t quite abandoned). I knew where to get free produce if you could get there before the grocer opened, what buildings you could climb, the back yards that had the best fruit trees and I knew the old rundown shack where the man who molested me that summer lived.

I was a substitute on a paper route that year. The kid I worked for was the son of the bank president. Every day that summer I would ride my bike to the bank and help him fold about two hundred newspapers. Of course we would use a back room to do this. The room was in an old office that was right next to the drive-up window. One day I noticed sunlight coming through a half inch hole in the wall. It had been where the compression tube that rang a bell when a car rolled over it went through. Later on that day, after the papers had been delivered, I was hanging out with my neighborhood's version of the Usual Suspects (Darrin, Chet and his older brother Cliff), when I told them about the funny little hole in the bank wall. Darrin, always the skeptic, said “Prove it.”

I remember so many things about that summer beside it being so hot. I remember building our baseball team’s parade float at my coach’s house. “The Things We Do For Love” blasting from his killer home stereo. His pretty wife and that he committed suicide before our season was over. I remember my mom’s homemade strawberry ice cream, Elvis died on the toilet, the taste of Copenhagen chewing tobacco for the first time, a crush I had on a girl named Chris, my first cigarette and my dad being so kind to my predator, unknowingly. But most of all, on this particular day, I remember riding fast and hard with the Usual Suspects downtown to the back of the bank where I showed my friends the little hole in the bank wall.

I guess it had to be around five or so in the afternoon. The blinds were drawn over the drive up window and the back parking lot was empty. Thinking back, I don’t remember who, but it was either Chet or Darrin that produced the firecracker.

Now, I’m sure things are much the same today as they were in 1977 when it comes to boys. Nothing in the world can make a boy smile faster than the sight of firecrackers or boobs. As a matter of fact I’m Fifty now and they still have that same affect on me.

Over the last half century I have looked back on my life and have had my share of regrets, like hearing “You’re fired!”, torture techniques practiced on my little brother, making my grandma listen to Led Zeppelin turned up to eleven or treating my youth pastor badly. What I didn’t regret was the look on that bank teller’s face when she thought a gun went off in the bank seconds after my lighter cooled.

I was a rotten kid.


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