Thursday, February 09, 2006
The Howard Street Gang
I don’t know how old I was but I was old enough to swing a hammer. I was the leader of the Howard St. Gang and had about 3 or 4 members and the other gang, in town, was the Howard St. Girls Gang. You might find this fairly humorous but me and my gang didn’t take it that way. In fact we were really miffed at the Howard St. Girls Gang and wanted them gone. My right hand man LeRoy was doubly miffed because the leader of that gang was his Sister Dorothy Ann and he didn’t like her just on general purposes. We normally wouldn’t have been very concerned with them but we had just had a Gang Fight over a bicycle??? The fight was complete with 1st name calling, then rock throwing, next came some pushing and finally a fist fight between leaders. Me and Dorothy Ann. Bring it on babe!!! Well to make a long story short, and to spare you the gory details I lost. I LOST TO A GIRL!!! I made a few mental notes about fighting in general as I got my butt kicked. 1) LeRoy started this whole thing with his mouth but wasn’t around when the battle started. 2) Girls can’t throw rocks very well and next time we will pick the distance and keep it to rock throwing. 3) Girls can really punch hard but all round house swings so if you can get inside and jab…..
My gang and I immediately started building a fort on our side of Howard St from slabs of logs brought from my fathers sawmill. It was a pretty good fort as I remember it. It was two story as you had a roof to stand on and pitch rocks. I think that the first floor was only about 3x4 and about 3 or 4 feet high so it was tough to hold meetings. I remember that my mother was a little upset about the fort because it was right on the edge of the street and she thought someone would run into it. Besides she thought it was ugly. My dad must have won out on that one because it stayed. The walls came out about 2’ above the top floor and we decided to build a rock throwing machine up there. It was about 3’ long and about 6” wide and the sides were about 3” high. We took strips from a bike inner tube and built a slingshot. Put a rock or rocks in the chute and pull that old inner tube back as far as you could and let go. Those rocks would go across the street and pepper the Howard St. Girls Gang as they walked by on the street. They would scream and run off and we would yell and whoop and laugh obnoxiously. Sounds like a great game if you’re a guy, Huh? Suddenly we ruled Howard St. Eventually the girls figured it out and stole our rock-throwing machine and put it in someone’s outside incinerator and that was the end of that.
We came to tolerate the girls. We had to because there weren’t all that many kids to play with. Every evening, after supper, we had yard games, mainly in our yard. Red Rover was always early and when it started to get dark we would be playing some version of hide and seek and there were a hundred other games we would fit in between. As it really got dark, parents were calling, ringing a bell, blowing a whistle or sending an older brother or sister to fetch. We had one family that had 9 kids and they were all musical. Traveled around playing gigs all over in a limousine type of car except it was homemade. “Gumbo Lilly kids” they were called. All of the kids that played the evening games were either Howard St. Gang members or Howard St. Girls Gang members but we had an unofficial truce. It was certainly a much more gentler time but soon summer was over.
Mary Ann was 1 year older than I was and her school started one day earlier than mine. I saw her when she came back from the 1st day and she was wearing a dress, had her hair combed and was wearing her first bra. Needless to say, no more fighting and no more rock throwing and if LeRoy wanted to call her names that was his business. I was dumb struck by the “New” Mary Ann and that was that.