It didn’t take the three of us long to make our first rounds through the neighborhood. Simply because we split up. Fish would take the left side of a street, I’d take the right and Finn would scout the block over. We’d meet up at the intersection, compare notes and figure out which houses to avoid on our second and hopefully third trips.
The scouting trip covered six square blocks and took an hour of daylight to go through. When we finished, we met at my garage and dumped our pillow cases in the rafter fort of my garage. We sat around staring at all the sugary goodness that awaited our eager and watering mouths.
“Shit, I see a lot of dum dum’s, taffy and bubble gum.” Fish said as he poked his hand into his pile sending the candy scattering into Finn’s and my piles. When he pulled his hand out he was holding not one, not two but three Chick Track Cartoon books. “Ugh, fuck, I can’t believe that old man gave me these.” He said and tossed them to the side.
I looked down at my pile, I spied the corner of an orange wrapper, the one piece of candy I’d been looking forward to getting since I’d stepped off the porch of 605 Karl Street. A nice man had seen my costume, gave out a laugh, reached down into his candy bowl and pulled out a Reese’s peanut butter cup two pack. He then put his hands above his head and said “Well partner, don’t shoot and I’ll give you this here peanut butter cup.”
I smiled and said “Much obliged you willy varmit.” And opened my pillow case. He promptly dropped the candy into my bag and I left. But I remembered the house. After all, we were on a scouting mission.
“Skip, whatchoo got there?” Fish asked.
I help up the Reeses and smiled. “605 Karl street, we all need to go there.”
Within the next ten minutes a slew of information was conveyed by the three of us to each other. We spat out addresses and what they were giving out as quick as we could. When we finished, we swapped masks, and headed out.
The second looting took much less time. After all, there were really only a dozen houses to go to within the neighborhood and by the time we’d finished our first round and went back to the houses in different masks our sacks were half full of large candy bars and even some loose change. It seems one generous couple ran out of candy and decided instead of turning off their porch light, they would just drop whatever lose change they had in a large bowl by their front door. We went to that place six times.
When the man looked down at Fish, whose mask was cracked and only covering half his face said “Hey, haven’t you already been here?”
Fish looked the man right in the eyes and said “Nah, we walked from Webster Ave, but my twin brother was by earlier.” Then he smiled the biggest shit eating grin I’d ever seen and opened up his pillow case and offered it up to the man. I swear I could hear money jingling as he did this.
When we got to the street Finn punched Fish in the arm and said “Man, you have got the biggest pair of balls of anyone.”
We all laughed.
As we walked toward my house, I looked up to the sky, it was dark and I could see pin pricks of light from the distant stars. “Guys, it’s getting late. Hell, most of the porch lights are off and I think we’ve done pretty good. Wanna head to the rafters?” The rafters is what we called the fort in my garage.
“Sure Skip.” Fish said, besides, I don’t think we will get much more tonight anyway. Say, you remember those Chick Track books?”
Yeah, the old man in the nine hundred block of Memory gave them to you. I think I got a few myself, but not from him.”
“You remember where?”
I nodded and gave him the addresses.
“Good. Cause we didn’t get any treats so it’s almost trick time.” He said with a malicious grin.
As we walked down Libel street, caught up in our own conversations of which candy we’d eat first, which candy was destined for the trash or our younger siblings, which excluded Finn since he was an only child, he usually gave his unwanted candy to his mom or left it in a bowl on the coffee table. Which we’d end up eating over the course of a few months, we didn’t really notice that some of the bullies from the nine hundred block were headed towards us.
Now, I should mention that the nine hundred block of Memory Avenue in Green Bay, Wisconsin in the mid-1970’s was run by six teenage boys from three different families. Each one as dangerous and mean as a trapped snake. They were so vicious in fact that Finn and I eventually refused to go to the bus stop down at the intersection and opted instead to jog the two miles to and from school. Rain, shine, snow or just brutal Wisconsin cold.
We hated those guys. So much so we just called them the Nine Hundred Six. These cats smoked, in the open for all the parents to see them. And, on occasion, they were known to purloin beers and just sit on the corner and drink them out in the open as well. If they saw something they wanted, they took it. If you even looked at them wrong, you were the subject of endless noogies, half nelsons and full nelsons. If you really pissed them off, they’d gang up on you and beat the living hell out of you.
We hated them. But out of all of us, it was Fish that hated them the most. Probably because he was the one who stood up to them the most and was on the receiving end of most of their abuse. Finn and I usually ran. After all, we both ran a sub five minute mile and very few people could keep up with that speed. Fish couldn’t run for shit. He could run his mouth, but his legs, well, they just couldn’t move fast enough. During the long summer days, when we’d hang out at the baseball fields and play pick-up games, he’d hit a ball into left field and would still be thrown out at first base. He was just slow. But, he was quick witted and had a sharp tongue and always carried a knife. Which inspired Finn and I to do the same.
We were between Karl Street and Memory Ave when the Nine Hundred Six came around the corner and saw us. When they started shouting, we froze in our tracks.
To Be Continued.
Have a great week and a Happy Halloween.