Childhood Achilles Heels

I think every child has an Achilles heel. That is, there is something that compels them to go against the rules, even when the likelihood is that they will be found out and punished. Mine came about between 4th and 5th grade. This is the story of my own childhood Achilles heels and a part of the process of revisiting my past.

Summer mornings generally started off with the smell of blueberry muffins and bacon. By 8am I was flying through the house with my robe on my back and Batman slippers on my feet. As usual, my grandmother was standing in the kitchen drinking Maxwell House coffee and eating toast. Breakfast was always ready and I was always hungry.

After a hearty breakfast there were the chores. Washing dishes, sweeping the dining room, taking out the trash and sweeping the sidewalk. This was a dangerous time because my younger brother was a slacker and my grandmother didn't play when it came to getting chores done in a timely manner. The problem was that I had friends that were already bike riding and heading to the field to play baseball. Of course they would stop and talk and that is where the trouble would come into play. There was no such thing as socializing while doing chores.

If I escaped that and my checklist was complete, then it was off to the field to play baseball. But first the rules. No going to Deep Bottom, no going to the apple tree and most definitely, stay our of Mr. Wright's garden. You would think that those rules would be simple to follow, but of course, those were the best places to hang out. We would play baseball for a while. But after a game a trip the the penny candy sto', there wasn't much to do. By this time, the summer sun was beaming and all we could do is wait until 5pm. That's when everyone hit the playground on 64th st. & 76th ave. So between 2 and 5, there was a lot of time to kill. And that's where the trouble would begin.

The Achilles Heel

Deep Bottom: There is a place where trains use to travel under Harlem Ave, just north of 63rd street. Well, the plant closed down and they tried to fill the bridge in with boulders. They didn't do a good job because we were able to get through. Over the years, water collected under the bride and it turned into a small lake. We had no idea how deep it was, hence the name Deep Bottom. It actually was a dangerous place but we went there to skip rocks. To get there you had to walk along the train tracks that were still in use. These tracks were in the middle of a place we called the "Cuts". Basically, it was a large wasteland of grass, trees and dead woods. Even more dangerous. (I'll tell you about the friend that lost a foot trying to jump the train another day). On a hot summer day, Deep Bottom was the place because it was cool. But if you got caught there, that was your behind.

The Apple Tree: There was a very large apple tree also located in the "Cuts". The apples were green but they were large. Folks didn't like us there because again, we had to walk along the tracks to get there and there was the fear of someone falling out of the tree. That didn't stop us. My problem was that my uncle could see the tree from his bedroom. I also had to enter the "Cuts" using the path next to his house. So there were three chances to get caught, going, coming or while climbing the tree. But that was not deterrent enough.

Mr Wright's Garden: It was the most amazing garden that I've ever seen. He had a large corn field, a tomato and cucumber patch and a few rows of onion. You would think we could just hide in the corn field but the man had x-ray vision and he knew who we were. Here is the problem with growing up in a place where everyone knows everyone. The old heads could not call us by name but they knew our family. During most of my childhood I was just Mrs. Callahan's grandson. Once they figured the family tree out, then they just did a process of elimination. My older brother was the tall one. My younger brother was the skinny one. Then there was me. Mr Wright would call my grandmother if he saw me in his field and by that formula, the dime was dropped.

During the school year I could get by without doing any of these things because of the weather. But those dog days of summer wore down a young man's ability to stay within the parameters of parental rules. Punishment was delivered with swift and godly accuracy. I was always given a choice of the switch or staying in my room for a week. I often chose the switch. There was no way I could stay in the house for a week. I would soon grow out of going to the "Cuts". But those were replaced by basement parties and skate rinks. But I'll leave those for another day.

NOTE: The picture is my 5th grade class picture. He his a hadsome young devil, isn't he?


6 Responses to Childhood Achilles Heels

  1. Jaimie Says:
    You were a cute kid. I love your stories.
  2. Cynthia Says:
    Yes he was a cute kid. Nice story. It must be nice being away from Argo/Chicago. I can't wait to leave for awhile.
  3. Deb S. Says:
    Very nice story. I hope you keep it. I think you could take this story writing a lot further. I hope you have considered that.
    By the way, the photo of you is darling. :-)
  4. Deb S. Says:
    One more thing: If you don't mind, I'd like to add you to my links. Peace on that.
  5. James Manning Says:
    Hi, DCS, feel free to link me and I will link you as well.
  6. Little Miss Chatterbox Says:
    You are a great storyteller. I enjoyed this.