Friday, July 29, 2011

Leaving Home, Queensborough Hill

He was about twenty years old when his folks decided to sell their home in "The Hill". He had graduated from High School two years earlier and went right to work. Back in the day, guys from his background didn't think about going to College. Back then they were lucky to finish High School and had to earn a few bucks to help out at home and earn their own way. However he didn't have enough to go out on his own and figured he'd stay with his parents until he was able to support an apartment and all that goes with living by yourself. So even though he didn't like the idea of moving from "The Hill" he had to do it. He figured he could come back and hang out with the guys a few days a week or at least on the weekend.

"The Hill" was practically all he knew. He was five when he moved there and that meant fifteen of his twenty years he was at home on "The Hill". He lived around the corner from the elementary school which had a big schoolyard. He went to that school for eight years the way God meant it to be with grades numbered from one to eight split in six month frames, A and B. The schoolyard was the center of social activity growing up. It goes without saying that during school days the yard was full since every one had to line up before going into class. During these times there were about three hundred kids playing in the yard which had a full court basketball court, two softball fields on concrete, numerous handball courts and a made up Chinese handball set up which ended up with the loser having to go asses up as the participants threw the spaulding at the target which of course was, what else (?), somebody's ass.

After school and days with no school everybody would go back to the school yard where they'd play ball, fast pitch, stick ball, basketball, hand ball and in the corner guys would shoot craps. The cops would raid the game once in a while. They kept the pot and if they caught any one  they'd bring them home where Mom would make them regret being caught but they'd be back the next day making sure they would run faster the next time. Everybody knew everybody. There was a fight every day but the next day the winners and losers would be pals again, until the next fight. There was a pecking order in the school yard that no one challenged. The older guys had dibs on the ball fields and if they came while the younger guys were playing they'd kick you off the field and maybe use your glove, which you were proud to give for the game. The games were good and hard fought with the winner s keeping the clincher which was chipped in and bought new for the game. The bats were wood, if broke they were nailed and taped as who could afford to buy bats each day at the cost of three or four bucks each. The softballs would be taped as they lost their cover. In the winter roller hockey was played with great gusto and verve. Guys like Moose were usually on the winning side.

Even outside the schoolyard everybody knew everybody else. All the neighbors looked out for each other and watched to see that the kids weren't getting into too much trouble. Of course the kids were trying to make sure the neighbors didn't see them smoking or drinking Ripple or beer or doing a little smooching. The candy stores were a great place to hang out and when you got older the bars supplanted them. His were the Oasis and The Villa. The Oasis was only for drinking while the Villa was for eating a pizza AND drinking. He knew every nook and cranny of "The Hill". Yes, he knew everybody and everybody knew him. That is why it was tough to leave such a place. His place he called home. On top of all that he just made contact with one of the most beautiful girls he had ever seen. She had given him the cold shoulder and turned her nose up at his every advance. Lately though he was getting through to her. She was laughing at his banter and that was a good sign. She could be the one. But now he was moving which held the thought that he could end up losing the chance to make it with her. So he went with great trepidation to a place on the Island some twenty miles away. Well, the move took place and he got a old Oldsmobile convertible with a rumble seat so he made a lot of visits back to "The Hill". He found out the usual time she took the subway to work and just managed to meet her a number of times. She was becoming friendlier and laughing more at his jokes. Things were working out pretty good with her, so good that they started dating. The dating period was a little bumpy and sometimes she didn't laugh at all his jokes, but be that as it may, they eventually agreed that it was better to stay together than be apart. He pushed his draft number up with the idea that he would serve his two year term then they would get married after a year or two. Soon after his entering the service it became apparent they couldn't really stand being apart so they married believing very strongly in the word, "Until Death Do Us Part".

They left "The Hill" and started on with their new lives for they were no longer one but two in one union, sort of like The Trinity but only two instead of three persons. While he was still in his thirties he drove back to his beloved "Hill". He walked around taking note that he was a stranger in his home town. Things changed, even his beloved schoolyard, they built a wing on the school and there was little left of the yard that was like a bio system all its own. As he drove to go back to his new home he felt a certain sadness as though a part of him was left behind in the days of youth and fun and new love. He realized that everything changes constantly because without change there can be no growth. After all, he changed too. He no longer hit the bars. He no longer played ball. He finally had to go to College, all the way to post graduate school. The girl, his wife changed also but she never stopped laughing while she grew into a beautiful woman inside and out. They still argued a bit, made love a lot and kept loving which they hoped would be through all eternity.

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