Monday, April 08, 2013

Part the Fourth


Best Friend Ever!

 
            Our housing development, Pennington Hills, was built in the middle-to-late 1950s, and most houses were GI-loan houses.  At least ours was.  Many of the houses had the same floor plan.  Across the street from us, the house was mirror-flipped but otherwise identical.

            Soon after my folks moved in at my birth in 1956, the Hefners moved in across the street.  At our house, Robert was the oldest, then Sue, a year younger, then me, nine years younger than Robert and eight years after Sue.  At the Hefners’ house, Debbie was the oldest, then Pam a year or two younger, then Tommy, who was about six months younger than me and therefore in the next-lower grade.  I think the age spread between the Hefner kids may have been about six years.

 
            Anyway, I grew up with Tommy as my soulmate.  Ray Bradbury wrote something similar in describing Will Holloway and Jim Nightshade in the classic novel Something Wicked This Way Comes -- that they had their fingerprints in the Play-Doh of each other’s souls, or some such.
 


            In this photo we are on the steps of the Hefner house.  Tommy’s the one all bundled up while I look like Red Skelton’s “Mean Widdle Kid.”  I am about 1½ years old and Tommy just turned one.

            The story goes that I used to push Tommy off the porch until he got big enough to push ME off.  After that we got along better.

             When we were in second and third grade, we would play Superman (after the George Reeves syndicated show).  At that time, Tommy wore glasses and I didn’t.  So, he got to be Clark Kent/Superman.  Hardly seemed fair.

             By the time we were around eight years old, Tommy had spent a year wearing an eye patch for amblyopia (aka “lazy eye”) and no longer wore glasses.    However, I then needed them. 
             The sensation of wearing glasses for the first time was disturbing.  I had ridden my bike up to Dr Fooshee’s office to get my first pair when they arrived.  My perception was so different that when I hopped on and pedaled away, I tumbled my bike two or three times before I got used to seeing things in a new way!  When I was much younger, Mom had let me wear her glasses for a few seconds.  The floor as perceived through her lenses was about a foot higher than it really was, and I kept trying to step up to it!
 
            Anyway, now I was the glasses wearer and Tommy wasn’t.
 


 
            In 1968  we went to the Tom Mix Museum in nearby Dewey, OK.  In between?  We played nearly every day together.  On Saturday mornings, whoever woke up first would get dressed, dash across the street, and scritchy-scratch on the others’ window.  We rode our Sting-ray-style bikes everywhere.

            In our neighborhood, the garage floors were somehow more polished and smoother than the driveways.  When we spotted an open garage door and empty space within, we would whip into the driveway and into the garage, hitting our coaster brakes and leaning into the skid.  We could whip a perfect 180-degree turn and end up still upright with our feet down on each side of the seat.  This was our patented Bat-Turn.

 

 

            Speaking of Bats … When Batman came on for its two nights a week, one night it would be at my house, and the next at Tommy’s.  His parents were gracious enough to let him keep an HO car set on the floor of the living room by the sliding porch door, and we would wipe out on the HO track as we watched the Riddler or King Tut get decked by Batman and Robin.

            When it came to role-playing, I was at another disadvantage when The Man from U.N.C.L.E.  swarmed into our ken.  When we played U.N.C.L.E., Tommy was blond while I had dark hair.  That meant that HE got to play the cooler guy, Illya Kuryakin.

          Then, in 1969, my world ended.

More on that later.
 
 

1 comment:

paul howley said...

I'm "nervous" about where this story is going.

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