Ashton Avenue, Detroit, Michigan. That’s the first place I remember. Ashton was a frontage road adjacent to what is now the Southfield Freeway. It was a dead-end street and railroad tracks crossed where pavement ended.
We played in the field behind our yard. There was a building that hid the fort we made in the bushes behind it. We beat a path through the weeds leading to our hide-out.
I asked one of the neighbor kids if he could see the Bosco mustache on my lip.
Mark Rickowski lived across the street. His mom babysat for me a time or two. Mark was the same age as my older brother.
The Belois boys lived down the road. The Behrcamp boy lived next to them.
Jimmy Bush was my friend. He had a brother who reminded me of Popeye. Jimmy had a little toy vacuum cleaner with a hose.
Jimmy Bush and I were playing gas station when I put my thumb on the chain of his bike and he pushed the pedal forward. The chain moved, taking my thumb with it. The sprocket tooth went through my right thumbnail. The lunula still shows something horrible happened to it a long time ago.
We moved from Ashton to Lucerne Avenue in Redford Township in the middle of kindergarten. My new class had a rabbit. I told the class my brother had a trainset. I said there was a car with a little man that came out and put a box down and went back in the car. I lied. He didn’t actually put the box down.
Hughey Burns lived next door. One time he knocked on our door with his mother. His face was all scratched up. He was running down the sidewalk pushing a toy car when the car hit a stone and stopped. His face didn’t.
The Lundeen girls lived down the block on our dirt road. They were beautiful. Mary Janeane said, “If you play with me I’ll marriage you.” I played with her. The girls swam in our pool.
Mary Janeane and I were playing “horse and buggy.” She was the horse, I was in the buggy (our red wagon). I was throwing stones in front of her to chase and one hit her in the back of the head. Her head started bleeding. Mary Janeane ran home crying and pretty soon her angry mom was walking toward me on the sidewalk.
Mrs. Lundeen said, “I’m going to tell your parents!”
I said, “No! I’ll tell them!”
For some reason, she believed me and went home. I didn’t tell my parents.
Freddie Pearl lived across the street. He had an electric army tank that moved through our flowers and left tracks in the dirt.
One time my dad had small gliders from a sales promotion for Mobil Oil Company. We went through the neighborhood selling airplanes to kids. Freddie helped us. He kept the money. Freddie was the first one I ever heard say the word, “turd.” We were never allowed to say turd.
Gary Davidson lived across the street, two houses away from Freddie Pearl. He was the tallest boy I had ever seen. He stood on the side of our pool and jumped in and almost all the water splashed out. Gary had a little gas engine race car that made a lot of noise and was really fast.
My girlfriend in first grade was Judy Zimmerman. She didn’t know she was my girlfriend. We played “robot” on the playground with some other kids. I was controlling Judy the robot. I told her to kiss me on the cheek. She did.
I had a party in our basement for my friends. I asked Judy Zimmerman to come. She was there.
Bobby Preston had a three corner hat. All the boys on the playground followed him around. I was sure Judy Zimmerman liked him.
I think Mark Rickowski retired as a bank president. He travels frequently but spends most of his time with his lovely wife in Paris.
The Belois boys probably moved to Montana and own a very successful hunting lodge. One is a pilot and offers fly-in fishing opportunities to people who can afford it. One stays in the huge kitchen and feeds all of the guests three meals every day. The other Belois boy counts the money.
The Behrcamp boy finally made it into Amshover College after several tries. His application was rejected twice on the basis of spelling errors. He graduated with high honors. He works for a professional baseball team in Japan.
Jimmy Bush and his brother opened a vacuum cleaner store in Detroit. After fifteen years in business, they sold the company for an incredible amount of money and moved their families to Kitmanton, Minnesota, where they planned to start a school for entrepreneurs.
Hughey Burns graduated from medical school at the top of his class. After completing his surgical residency at Machinzey General Hospital in Wingley, Utah, he opened a private plastic surgery practice in Upcal, Germany.
Freddie Pearle owns eleven laundramats. He has made a comfortable living for his family.
Gary Davidson signed a letter of intent at the age of 12 to play basketball at Purbtockwin University in upstate New York. During his senior year of high school he decided to pursue his interest in art. He paints wildlife in their natural habitat. He focuses mainly on caribou.
Judy Zimmerman married Bobby Preston. They have twelve children, seventeen grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren. Bobby still wears his tattered three-corner hat.
Mary Janeane never married. She joined the Sisterhood of Saint Elizabeth at the age of eighteen. She has given all of her adult years to helping children. Her first step toward fulfilling her vows was to forgive me for hitting her in the back of the head with a stone. She didn’t falter.
The Lundeen girls are still beautiful.