Saturday, August 4, 2007

Debaliviere Part 2

Now that I’ve given a rough picture of the adult world around Debaliviere I thought I’d share a few personal memories.

We lived in a 6 family on Kingsbury and I was 2 to 6 years old.

Everyone’s back yard was solid ground coal ash from the old furnaces. This black soot just seemed normal. The milkman would stop in the alley and give the kids a block of ice. We’d drag it under our giant steel back steps, find a rock to break it up with, and eat it like the pieces were popsicles. My mother couldn’t figure out why my brother and I always had worms.

The kids ran the neighborhood.

I thought black kids were anatomically different from white kids. Their penises were uncircumcised. I noticed this when we peed in the gangway.

Six white horses led the Kennedy funeral procession on TV.

I made a personal vow to become a super hero watching superman. I didn’t grow out of that until I was 12.

“Oh how I hate you, you alligator bait you” and other great 78s played on my dad’s record player. On the other end of the spiritual spectrum my mother was listening to Prokofiev’s Stoneflower Ballet, Kurt Weil, and odd assorted folk music.

My dad’s closet was full of Coke bottles filled with homemade beer. He had an impressive crown cap machine that made it possible. His friends later told me his brew tasted like piss.

One day 2 older kids abducted me and locked me in a coal bin in their basement. They told me if I tried to escape their trained eagle would peck my eyes out. At the end of the day they took me for a walk in their back yard on the end of a leash. My mother happened by, grabbed my arm and dragged me home scolding me that it was way too late to be out playing. I brought this up years later and she was horrified.

Wash U. students used to show movies on a white-washed billboard in the alley behind our apartment.

I begged my mother to buy a horse. We could keep it in the basement.

The Boogie Man lived next door and in spite of the fact that we lived on the third floor, I knew a killer on stilts was in the gangway throwing knives through windows.

My father was a teamster working for Brunswick. We had bowling pins and all kinds of souvenirs. My brother and I had pajamas with luminescent scattered bowling pins. We’d hide under the blankets just mesmerized by their glow. This was the paint that turned out to be so radioactive. We used to burn the pins as fire wood in a cabin we had in the country. More on that later.

My first school was Hamilton. I don’t know if they still do this but in those days the school had sexually segregated playgrounds. I walked to school by myself the first day and wandered into the girl’s side. They all made fun of me and I wondered why there were only girls at school. I even got in the line and came in on the wrong side.

All the St. Louis city schools had thorn bushes out front. Bullies at every school I went to would stab the smaller kids making school life unbearable. What were the elders thinking?

I read somewhere that one possible cause of childhood obesity is the fact that parents have gotten overprotective, paranoid of the evils lurking outside. As a result kids stay inside watching TV and get used to a sedentary lifestyle. At six I could take a trolley car or bus downtown to the library and the driver would make sure I got off at the right stop. My son is 13 now and I’m not sure I’d trust him to do that!


paycheck said...

You should start a list of all the old music you listened to.

Remember the Judy Collins album with "Sunny Goodge Street" and "Marat/Sade" on it?

And those Christmas albums your mom had - are they still around?

Doggie said...

Valerie found a CD of that old Christmas album on EBAY. Made one for my mom and she was ecstatic. I still listen to any Judy Collins that Joshua Rifkin arranged the music for. The list of people she turned me on to would fill a book.

rico d. bool said...

that Judy Collins album was "In My Life", a remake of the beatles tune. a list of the stuff we listened to back then would probably be a blog in itself

Doggie said...

Let's not forget her 5th album or Wildflowers!