If you are going to
have a fun filed Saturday, with bicycling ,fishing , jumping on the back of one
of the frequent slow moving trains rolling into Chicago for a quick ride to our
favorite fishing and swimming spot, you had better get your housework completed correctly, why; because our mama did not play she would knock
us out and then spend time reviving who ever got knocked out. I, the youngest of
my mother’s children had to mature faster than many other kids my age, growing
up in the 60’s and 70’s in Chicago Illinois, it was a turbulent time in Americas
history strikingly similar to the racial climate we share today.
My siblings, six in total all had one thing in common
that I learned at an early age, no matter what you wanted to do on Saturday to
avoid lock down and knock out you had better handle your business Saturday
morning. That included the smell of Clorox bleach flowing with the breeze of
air from the bathroom windows being open early on a summer’s day. Yes, cleaning
bathrooms that was my specialty, at seven years old I was the best bathroom
cleaner on the Southside of Chicago, mom had taught me so expectations were
high and that floor better be so clean you could to eat off it with a knife and
a fork, cleanliness was next to Godliness, mom would say!
I’ve made big plans this coming Saturday with my nephew
Edgar and his best friend Antoine we spent all week playing our favorite game,
strike’em out, it was the hood version of baseball. We would place an X on the
wall in a square and that would become your batter’s box. The ball was an
oversized softball, we could not afford the fees and cost for equipment o play
organized league baseball, we had our own thing going. I was an dreadful
player, but someday I will play, I thought to myself on a real baseball team.
The three of us, Edgar, Antoine and myself had spent Friday getting our bikes
ready and Saturday we were going to ride all over the place, I, had no idea how
the climate of the 1960’s and 70s would affect my love of the game of baseball.
Edgar, is my sister’s youngest son, her oldest son was
named Michael, the three of us shared birthdays within three years of each
other birth. Mike being the oldest and Edgar the youngest, and the age thing
made us instant brothers even though they cracked people up when they called me
Uncle Neal to tell the truth it made me laugh ,we were tight like real brothers
but Edgar and I had a strong connection we went everywhere together and Antoine
was his neighbor and friend, good guy he was little and fast, Edgar and myself
were more the husky size, that’s what they called the bigger kids then, Sears
department store advertised The Husky Collection for boys.
Now, I shared earlier that it was mandatory that the
Clorox smell was an indicator in my momma’s house that some cleaning was going
on and no one needed knocked out. One thing that was awesome about that time,
when you were outplaying your curfew was when the street lights lite up, you
had better be close to home or guess what, yes momma was going to knock you out.
Funny I never seen momma knock anyone out but when you are the youngest you
kind of just know from the speed everyone is moving when she tells them to do
something, somebody got knocked out. I think the thought now was don’t be the
next one to get knocked out. One thing for sure Saturday I was getting up early
at 7:00am finish my work and meeting Edgar at around the corner at my sister’s
house, Antione stayed across the street from Edgar. Antoine older brother
Darrell helped us all week with our bikes he had a car but he took the time to
make sure we were straight and our bikes were ready for our big Saturday