As a continuation of my life with Sam Lacy, I would like to share a few stories from our neighborhood.
Around the corner from my house was the Mecca of our ‘hood. There were three major grocery stores and two mom and pop stores. Along with this came a few retail establishments to handle any other needs you might have. You could buy everything from a can of beets to a winter jacket.
There was a standing rule among the parents that we were not to play with any balls while traversing this gauntlet of stores. Being charter members of the knucklehead club, my buddies and I were tossing a ball around as we walked. An errant throw hit an uneven place in the sidewalk, and the ball went crashing through the glass door of Wing Lee’s laundry. Just as the notion struck me to run, I glanced into the laundry to see Sam dropping off some shirts. Why me, Lord?
I spent hours after school doing chores for Mr. Lee to pay for the door. For some reason I suspected Sam was somewhere watching.
On the corner of this block was a gas station. Cutting through the gas station was a way of life for us kids. However, this choice came back to haunt me.
At Easter, every kid got a new suit. You put it on for the first time on Easter Sunday, and after that, it was your Sunday suit for the rest of the year. At that time in my life the standard blue suit was the garment of choice of all the moms. However, my mom relented and let me get a gray suit.
With this gray suit hanging in my closet, I was so excited I was about to pee on myself. One Monday morning my “showoff” gene kicked in and I waited until my parents were off to work. As soon as they were out of sight, I put on the suit pants. Wearing these gray slacks, I knew I would be the cat’s meow among my peers.
The rub came when I realized I was running late. I raced out of the house and sped through the gas station. I skidded on a slick of oil leaking from some barrels, my butt hit the ground and I slid about 10 feet. I am sure you can imagine what those pants looked like afterward.
Now my problem is two-fold. I have a ruined pair of suit pants, and I am going to be late for school. I sucked it up and headed back home to change. The next week or so was similar to being in the waiting room at the dentist. I walked around with this knot in my stomach, dreading Easter Sunday morning.
Easter dawned and it was time to unveil my suit to dress for Church. My mom exclaimed, “What happened to your pants?” This was when I uttered the dumbest words of my life. I replied, “I don’t know.” I squirmed and babbled something that resembled the unknown tongue, all the time wishing that the red in my mom’s face was not the sign of an approaching stroke.
Just as I resigned myself to a lifetime of hard labor, Sam emerged from his closet with a replacement suit. It seems he had gone into my closet to check to see if my suit needed to go to the cleaners to be pressed. When he discovered the damage, he chuckled and thought, “Boys will be boys.”
Believe it or not, my mom took the damaged suit back for a refund. The best part of this story was that, when the smoke cleared, my butt was still attached to my body.