Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Color of Money

The summer of 1970, I think between 6th and 7th grades, we lived in an unincorporated area called Oakland. It was a small lush bowl of real estate between Webster Groves and Kirkwood.  We had a beautiful 2 story house you couldn’t see through the trees. I was able to jump to my tree house from my 2nd floor bedroom window.

It was an idyllic life for an urban transplant like me.

I had a summer job as a caddy at Algonquin Country Club. I found out my dad used to take the bus out here from the city to caddy when he was a kid. He worked at the Westboro Country Club too. I had to walk through that golf course to get to school.

I remember walking through it coming home from Nipher Junior High School in 7th grade. I smoked my first cigarette without any friends to share the experience with. This made me a real smoker and very cool in my mind.

My friends and I used to hide in the woods, run out and steal golf balls as they landed on the fairway. Sometimes we’d set up a limeade stand on the last green. We discovered if you ask for donations instead of posting a price you made a lot more money.

I was only a B caddy at Algonquin being younger than the others. It was really hard carrying those huge golf bags, especially if they went the full 18 holes. The course had a policy of no tipping so I only made money off the guests from out of town. When I got back to the caddy shack I’d lose every cent I made pitching quarters at the never ending game out back.

In those days kids ran wild until around 10:00 at night. A neighboring township called Glendale had an old fashioned pharmacy. (There’s a fire station there now.) It had a large soda counter with stools and a comic book stand. The owner let us read the comics as long as we bought something. I remember having a chocolate soda that consisted of seltzer and chocolate syrup. I was able to nurse this until I’d read every book. He kicked me out at 10:00 (closing time).

I was probably 2 miles from home walking on a poorly lit sidewalk. I looked down as a street light cast a round spot light on 2 folded fifty dollar bills. My heart stopped.

I did a quick scan of the dark silent neighborhood. Not a soul in sight. Not even a lit window. I grabbed the two bills and ran for my life.

Fantasies of an electric guitar, lessons, maybe a studio and a tour bus grew in my mind. A hundred bucks was the same as a million to me.

It felt like hours of running through deserted streets. I made it to the golf course. At the other end I came to a hill. Train tracks ran across the top. There was an old arch stone cave with a keystone at the top that read 1927. I ran through the creek that ran through the cave. My legs were cold and wet but I made it to my house.

I ran up to my room, hit the light switch, shut the door, jumped into my bed and pulled the two bills from my pocket.

I unfolded them and read, “Tired of throwing your money away on taxes?” “Vote for Dr. John L. Gaskanett.!”


Anonymous said...

You should do a book of short stories you write very well. John Gorski

Anonymous said...

i remember the times in oakland well. when you got that chemistry set and we learned to make gunpowder and tried to make rockets. or when you got a tick in a very uncomfortable spot and had to sleep on an old army cot for what seemed like a month till it fell off. or the deluxe tree-house some friend of yours a few blocks down oakland street had that had electricity an carpet tiles all over the walls, it was split-level too! Pat and i used to walk in the creeks for hours looking for fossils we mostly found old trilobites or year i came over for halloween and got we dressed up as the yankee doodle guys and someone made us do a trick so i played yenkee doodle on the snare drum i had and nobody could tell what i was playing.i was constantly bugging my mom to let me spend the night at your house and i guess i did get to spend a good bit of time there. seems like it was always in the summer so i guess it was when school was out. Geo

Doggie said...

I was one of the architects of that amazing tree house. The tick happened when I was 6 but I'm sure I was still talking about it. Missed some school. I almost mentioned the fossils in the creek. That Halloween I thought we dressed as a rock band (The Beasties). We wore wigs and performed the song "We Came Here For Some Candy, Yeah-Yeah-Yeah"

dominic schaeffer said...

Jesus- David... John Gorski is absolutely right- a book of short stories. Brainstorm with Geo and me about resource material then bear down and write! There's sure to be some great stuff there...

anyways- great ending! my jaw dropped before laughing out loud. i'm gonna google Dr. John L. Gaskanett..

Anonymous said...

a book is not a bad idea, i have a pretty good memory for a lot of stuff back then, all the way back to when we used to do plays with stephen gabriel on the sewer thing near the Ponderosa( and make mud pies lol) Geo

Doggie said...

Wow Geo I forgot about our plays. I'm glad someone else remembers Stephen Gabriel. He was my best friend. Wonder if we can fin him and get him in the LT FB group.