WARNING!!! This blog is a story of a part of a night from my youth. Some topics I have written in here may be a bit offensive to some folks. SO if you are easily offended or if you don't think you want to read this Blog then DON'T. You won't hurt my feelings nor will you offend me. Also, I have taken the liberty of changing some names and places (Just a Bit) to protect the Guilty or Innocent.
Two weeks before Christmas break in 1978 I found myself sitting in the basement of Jim Finnegan’s with Al Minnow and Jimmy. Respectively known as Fish and Fin, me? I was Skip. Always have been and always will be. It was a Friday night and we had just finished watching 7 Shao Lin monks defeat the entire Chinese Army with some round house kicks, slaps to the face and using “Bleeding Dragon, Crouching Mantis, Fisted Tiger and Hungry Llama techniques on a UHF station. C’mon, you know you remember UHF television. And if you don’t here is a quick note on UHF, you see before Cable TV and Satellite TV the only channels on the gigantic 19 inch color TV’s in your family room and basements you received were ABC, CBS and NBC all the other channels were on the UHF selector switch of the brain sucking device which has taken over our society and there were only usually 2 stations to choose from.
Now, on Friday nights and Saturday afternoons one of the 2 UHF stations always played Kung Fu movies, Science Fiction movies or old Westerns. We liked ‘em all. Didn’t matter if it were Monks, Aliens, Cowboys or Indians we always watched and then tried our best to impersonate what we had just seen in our own awkward Pre-Teen manner, sometimes those antics required stitches and band aids. That night was no different but seeing as it had snowed most of the day and we had not really had the opportunity to go outside and have a proper snow ball fight or even enjoy the almost pure, innocent natural wonder of the newfound magical world of whiteness we decided that it would be far more fun to try and kick each other in the heads with some soft, cushy snow to break our fall. So that is what we did.
I understand that some of you who live in the South don’t know much about snow so I will let you in on a little secret… you ready? Ok, here goes, NOT ALL SNOW IS THE SAME! I am serious; if you spend any time in the northern climates of the world you quickly discover this to be true. Now, Southerners when they experience a half an inch of snow pretty much shut down everything. No traffic in or out of the city, there is a run on food at all grocery stores, parents have to deal with their kids being home from school and no one under no exception goes to work. It’s true. I have seen it myself firsthand and it is quite amazing to see. ME? Being from the Great State of Wisconsin I find this baffling and confusing and quite humorous. But I go with the flow and chuckle at all the idiots who think the world is ending because of some “Dandruff” from the sky. I am used to going to school in Wisconsin after a night of 12 inches of white stuff hitting the ground while I sleep. Snow days up North are Rare and wonderful occurrences that we seldom had the chance to experience but always looked forward to.
The day in question when Fish, Fin and I set out after Kung Fu Theatre had not been a snow day. As a matter of fact we had been sitting in math class when the snow began to fall and this was no ordinary snow. This was LAKE EFFECT SNOW. Thick, wet, stick and heavy made up of flakes the size of your thumb nail. Perfect for snowballs, igloos and snow forts. The kind of snow parents hated shoveling and kids loved playing in. The kind of snow you see in movies and as a child you dream of during that long wait for a Fat Man in a Red Suit to come and give you all your hearts desires. It was that kind of snow and we wanted to be in it and on it and become the Kings of Memory Avenue.
So, we put on our two pairs of socks, sweatshirts, sweaters, vests and ski jackets, added out mittens and our stocking caps. Fish had a black sailors watch cap that I wanted so badly because it looked so bad ass on him along with his leather coat, Fin had Detroit Redwings knit hat that clashed with his orange hunting jacket and I had a homemade knit Green Bay Packer hat with a gold and green tassel on it and when I flipped up the sides of it read “GREEN BAY PACKER BACKER!” which match my Green Packer Ski Coat. We set out for fun and mayhem. We found it too.
We spent an hour or so behind Fin’s garage building a snow fort big enough for the 3 of us sit inside of Indian Style and once we were comfortably inside Fish broke out a pack of smokes and we blazed up talking about all the girls in school we had crushes on and what it would be like to go on a real date and kiss a girl. Then the talk got around what we thought we were gonna get for Christmas and all the presents we had asked for. Fish told us that he already knew what he was getting because he had found his parents stash of gifts and had opened them. Fin and I were stunned. NO WAY! FISH KNEW WHAT HE WAS GETTING!! He told us of the remote control cars, the “Aladdin” computer toy and a MOTORCYLCE HELMET! We didn’t believe him. We demanded proof! He said “Sure, let’s go to my house and I will show you.”
We set out again. Now Fish lived 7 blocks away and in the thick snow we were traipsing around in we knew it would take some time to get there but we didn’t care. We knew we had plenty of time to get there because Fish’s dad was an over the road truck driver and his mom worked as a waitress with Fin’s mom at a fish house downtown that did not close until 2 am. We headed up to Libel Street tossing the odd snowball or two at each other and marveling at all the Christmas decorations up and down the block. As we passed the Jamrog house we heard loud music coming from the basement and knew that all the Older Kids were partying down there. We could hear Molly Hatchet screaming from the Hi-Fi and you could smell the “Weed” smoke pouring out the back door. Fin made a comment about having the balls to actually smoke some weed. I told him I knew a guy who had some and he lived on the way to Fish’s house. We held a quick consensus and decided we needed to stop by my “Friends” house to score some “SMOKE”.
Once we got to Libel we turned left and headed for Brookridge Street to see Brian. Brian was a new kid in town and he had been trying to fit in with one of the many cliques in the neighborhood but it just hadn’t worked out for him. I had the honor of meeting him a few weeks before up at the ice skating rink while trying out for some Rec League hockey. I didn’t get in and neither did Brian. But we managed to pulverize each other with our sticks for about an hour and bond in a Neanderthal way that most boys do at that age. He invited me over to his house and that is when I discovered that his mother was divorced and worked at one of the many fine Gentlemen’s clubs and also supplemented her income by selling a bit of “Mary-Jane” on the side. He also showed me where she hid the stash and that if I ever needed any to let him know. I told Fish and Fin this quick history and they thought Brian would make a fine addition to our Juvenile Delinquent Gang.
As we approached Brookridge, Fin whipped a snowball right at the back of Fish’s head and scored a direct hit. Fish went down like a sack of bricks. He didn’t even let out a yell. He just fell down like there was no life left in his body. Fin and I were laughing. “Fish, get up ya big pansy.” Fin said. Fish didn’t move. “Fish” I said “C’mon man, get up. He didn’t hit you that hard.” Fish didn’t move.
I knelt down and shook him, “Fish? C’mon. Stop goofing off.” I looked up at Fin. “Man, I think you killed him.”
“Bullshit” Fin said. And knelt down next to Fish and started to roll him over. “Fish? Hey buddy, you ok?” Fin said in a panic. But Fish wasn’t moving. He was limp and in the glow street light he looked pale and sickly.
“What the hell did you hit him with?” I asked
“Just a snowball”
“Dude, did you put a rock in it again? Or roll it in some slush? C’mon Fin spill it. Was it one of your Special snowballs?” I asked in a panic. Because we all knew Fin would occasionally make a slush ball or put a rock in the center of a snowball just for that added jolt of pain and excitement. Sometimes it was funny, this time, not so funny.
“No man! I swear! It was just a plain old snowball!”
I stood up. “Dude, we gotta get someone to help him. He looks real bad.”
“Ugghh.” Was the only sound Fin could make.
I looked down at Fin kneeling next to Fish and Fin was looking at me. “Man, I don’t know what I am gonna do. He’s our friend. I didn’t mean to hurt him. It was all in fun. Right? You believe me don’t you Skip? He can’t be hurt.” Fin looked almost as bad as Fish did. I could see the tears welling up in his eyes and the desperation pouring off of him like foul smelling cancer was making me sick. I glanced over at Fish and then back to Fin. “He will be ok. We just have to get some help. I will run home and get one of my sisters and call an ambulance. You stay here with him.” I said and I turned to leave.
“AAAAAAAEEEIEIIIEIIEIIEIEIEIEIIEEEEEE!” I heard a scream.
I turned back around and I saw that Fish was sitting on top of Fin jamming fistfuls of snow into Fin’s face and screaming “FACEWASHTIME!!!! YOU GONNA GET CLEAN NOW!!!” Fish was laughing and Fin was trying to protect himself and trying to defend himself against the now clearly alive Fish.
“Get off of me you ASSHOLE!” Fin was screaming.
All I could do was laugh. I fell down in a snow bank I was laughing so hard. “Get Him! Wash his face GOOD!” I screamed.
Fin started bucking like a wild horse and eventually Fish rolled off of him laughing so hard he was crying. “FUCK YOU! FISH!” Fin yelled. “You scared the shit out of me. We thought you were dead.”
“That’ll teach you to pull a Jap move like that.” Fish said through tears of laughter.
Fin sat there in the snow bank with his knees up next to his chest and his arms wrapped around his knees. “Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuckitty fuck fuck.” Was all he managed to say and then started to laugh again.
We sat there for another ten minutes laughing at each other and the prank that Fish had pulled. The clear night’s air and the crispness of our breath creating smoke tendrils that rose up into the night’s sky like ghosts of our laughter and companionship that we had created in those heated moments of youth. Soon, it started to snow again and we were getting cold and wet. We decided to forgo going to Brian’s house that night in favor of the promise to enjoy Fish’s new remote control cars and the warmth of his basement.
We had many adventures us three and eventually we did add Brian to our Gang of Miscreants but like all things from our youth they pass on into our vault banks of memories to be drawn up at times when you least expect them. Hopefully one day I will have the time to sit down and make another withdrawal of the times we spent together running the wild streets of Green Bay.