It’s the summer of 1955. I’m three and a half years old, and my mind has been online for maybe six months. I was living in a secluded little white farm house at the end of a long dirt road, by the beach down from the Old Mission school house.
Old Mission was a sleepy little village where nothing happened and even less at the end of my road. So, you can imagine how excited I was when a family moved into the cottage across the road.
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I remember standing in front of my living room window watching them move in. I saw that there was a mom, a dad, two boys and a girl. Turns out the girl was a year older than me and her name was Cindy. She was my very first friend.
Now, girls in Old Mission had a tendency to grow up to be cover girls whose faces could adorn any glamour magazine out there. Cindy was no exception. She was the cutest girl I had ever seen. Actually, she was probably the only girl I had seen except for my one-year-old sister. So it wasn’t long that I was totally enamored and following her around like a puppy dog, which seemed appropriate, as she treated me like her pet. She would allow me to sit by and observe as she played out in the yard.
One afternoon, she said she had something to show me in her house. We went into the kitchen, and there on the table was a beautiful double-layer cake. Now, this is the moment in my life where I started my career of being led astray by beautiful older women. I don’t remember how, but she seemed to convey that it was ok for us to eat all the frosting off the cake, which with great gusto, we achieved in no time.
What happened next is a little hazy, but I may have heard somebody’s piggy bank being shook upside down. Anyway, Cindy holds up in her frosting-stained fingers a shiny new dime. She says, ”come on, let’s go,” and go we did, up the dirt road, across the school yard, past the merry-go-round and the teeter-totter, across a little field to Lardies Grocery store (now the Old Mission General Store).
We’re standing at the doorway watching George Lardie pound a nail into the door jam with the butt end of a beer bottle. He was an amazing, wonderful old man, and I miss him to this day. He finished and turned to see us standing there. His face lit up with an amused smile as he observed our frosting-enhanced persona. We were obviously up to no good.
He beckoned us in and took his place behind the counter as we requested the large two-for-a-penny candy box. It was filled with Black Jacks, tiny malted milk balls, Jaw Breakers, miniature wax pop bottles filled with lord knows what, suckers so cheap the sticks had been replaced with strings, and all kinds of other tooth-destroying goodies.
Cindy picked out what we wanted and gave George the dime. He put everything in a little brown paper bag, and we were on our way. Now, a dime in those days was nothing to sneer at, and certainly kids our age would not have had one without some sort of shenanigans going on. So George felt obliged to call and let the parents know there may be mischief afoot.
Cindy and I went around back of the store and headed through the orchard towards the bay. Halfway there, we came across an outhouse. To get out of the hot sun for a minute, we opened the door, sat inside and proceeded to eat some of our most assuredly ill-gotten gains. After putting a dent in the little brown bag, we headed across the field to our homes.
When we arrived, there were moms in the yard, and I saw for the first time the look my mom would reserve just for me. We were then escorted into our houses for interrogation and retribution.
As I stated earlier, this being led astray by a beautiful older woman was not to be an isolated incident. I should have learned my lesson right then and there, but I didn’t. Perilous times for a three and a half year old, as later on it happened again. Different incident, different woman, worse result. Stay tuned.