Saturday, June 30, 2018

Men of the Skull Chapter 52: Crowbowl

Today's chapter once again takes the story to a fraternity other than my own- Alpha Chi Rho.

By this point, I was dating one of their Little Sisters and not going to my House as often.  I actually think that helped as I didn't seem so desperate.  I still went for lunch and dinner, as I was on the meal plan, and for pledge meetings, chapter meetings, and parties... but really that's it.

There's a slight twist at the end of this chapter as only life can bring.  Truth is stranger than fiction as they say.


Chapter 52: Crow Bowl

Saturday, March 14, 1987 Gotti cleared by jury in Mafia trial

Every house had their fun little “brothers only things.  Skull had BSB and other stuff.  For Alpha Chi Rho, it was Crowbowl.
Crowbowl was a basketball tournament.  Chapters across the East Coast would send teams to whichever school was hosting to compete for a trophy or something like that.  Of course, the idea was to promote brotherhood blah blah blah, but let’s face it: Crowbowl was all about bragging rights.  In 1987, Crowbowl was hosted by Penn State.
To hear Judy and Virginia talk, it was as if Moses came down from the mountain, handed Crow the Ten Commandments, then hung out to play flip a cup for the rest of the night.  It was that monumental.  And of course, it was all hands on deck, especially for Little Sisters.
So while Judy and Virginia spent their day in one of the White Building gyms watching basketball, I was up at Dave’s playing the usual games with the usual crowd.  I arrived at the gym around seven, full of pizza, beer, soda, and burps.
Eventually I found Virginia, who was wearing the garnet Crowbowl shirt over a white turtleneck.  She was watching the game with Mandy and a few others.  Judy sat with Richard some distance away.  The shirt wasn’t bad.  The top of the image had “14th Annual” then the bottom had “Crow Bowl.”  In between were two basketball players: the left one, number 19, trying to block a shot by number 87.  (1987. Get it?)  Behind them was a giant bird that looked like a cross between a crow and a raven.  All of this was done in white.  Cheap and effective.

Detail of the Crowbowl T-shirt

My timing was perfect.  I showed up during the second half of the championship game: Penn State vs. West Chester University.  I saw Virginia’s “big brother” Rob on the court, shirtless (it was shirts vs skins) leading the team.  I recognized a few others as well.  I got a quick kiss from Virginia, but that was it.  She was hoarse from shouting and cheering so much.  Penn State was leading by four, but West Chester was too good to count out.  They kept coming back. 
I began to cheer too.  Why not?  Essentially I was cheering for Penn State.  Judy looked over and half smiled. 
Eventually, the game ended.  Penn State won by three.  Virginia hugged me, and then ran out onto the court to hug her sweaty big brother.  She then went with all the other Penn State Crows in a victory procession back to their house, while out of town Crows went back to their various hotel rooms to clean up, eat, fuck, or whatever.  After all, there was a party that night.
            Oh, how good was the Penn State Crow team?  A month later they won the fraternity inter-mural basketball championship over some very strong competition.  If nothing else, those guys could play hoop.
            After a few hours of sleep, I was at the door of Crow House.  The party that night was “Crow’s Only” but I was invited because of Virginia.  I just walked right in- by then the pledges knew me by sight. 
I never saw Crow House this packed- and I never would again.  I thought it’d be a lot emptier, but what I didn’t realize was that each team brought their team, supporters, and little sisters from like thirty different chapters all stuffed into that little house looking for beer and sex.  And of course, all the Penn State Little Sisters had to be there- mandatory attendance.  So this is what I walked in on.  The dance floor was packed.
Ain't no doubt about it we were doubly blessed
'Cause we were barely seventeen and we were barely dressed
Meatloaf was at high volume tonight.  Had to try to impress the other chapters with the stereo system I guess.
            I saw a few familiar faces.  A lot of people were wearing Crow jackets, which was odd as it was fucking hot in the house! 
            A few hours later (or so it seemed) I managed to burrow my way down the solid packed stairs to the party room.  There, behind an impenetrable wall of garnet and white, was the bar.  And behind the bar was Virginia wearing the same tight white turtleneck she was wearing earlier (she ditched the shirt God only knows where.)  Next to her was her Big Brother.  No sign of Judy, but in this crowd she’d be impossible to find until I was on top of her.  Which would be fun.
            Somehow, perhaps by using mind control, teleportation, or using my spider powers to crawl along the ceiling, I managed to arrive at the bar.  Virginia saw me when I was about three quarters of the way there, and she had a beer waiting for me.
            “Isn’t this awesome?” she tried to shout over the music and people.  The music was some new rap group that was getting really popular: “Beastie Boys” I think.
You wake up late for school man you don't wanna go
You ask you mom, "Please?" but she still says, "No!"
You missed two classes and no homework
But your teacher preaches class like you're some kind of jerk
You gotta fight!  For your right!  To parrrrrrrrrrrrrrrtay!
“What?”  I yelled back.
            She leaned over the bar and yelled back “ISN’T THIS AWESOME?”  She didn’t realize that the tips of her breasts had touched the beer covered surface.  When she leaned back up, it looked like she had two large wet nipples.  I pointed at her chest.  She looked confused, then looked.  At first she looked shocked, then she shrugged.
            “They’ll dry!” she shouted. 
            Her breasts were now attracting more than the usual attention from a room full of drunken guys.  This could be ugly.
            “Skull!  Drink!” 
            What?  Oh.  I looked down the bar and saw one of the brothers pointing at me with extended elbow.  On the bar before him was the inevitable plastic cup top down on the bar.  I raised my glass to him and drank.  Guess I’m playing.  Wait- of course I’m playing: this is the Crow bar I’m standing next to, and everyone plays.  I looked back and saw that Crow talking to a couple of out of state Crows while gesturing at me, then at Virginia. 
            I finished my beer, and Virginia gave me another.  “WHAT ARE THE RULES?”  I asked.
            “STANDARD AND…”  Song ended.  “No cursing,” Virginia said.
            Guys were pushing me a bit, trying to jockey for a place at the bar with a view of Virginia’s wet tits.  There was no room- at all.  Part of me thought it was cool- the girl I was dating was wanted by all these guys, but she was with me.  But what if she got really drunk, and one of the guys…  No.  Don’t think about that. 
            Too many beers later, I dragged my ass through the crowd.  I saw Judy, who either didn’t see me or ignored me.  To the stairs.  Up the stairs.  In line.  Wait.  Wait.  Wait.  Bathroom.  Blessed relief.  And I didn’t have to piss in the sink.
            After washing my hands (a bit of a challenge), I headed toward the steps, where I bumped into Mandy.  She was shouting at some girl in the living room.
            “I don’t give a fuck what you think!  We didn’t take it!”
            I looked in the living room and saw a chubby blonde with a tall Madonna circa 1984 haircut (only a little less altitude than Mandy’s!) 
            “Who else would want it?” said the Wannabe.
            Mandy threw up her hands in disgust.  “Oh, suck my left tit!” she shouted and stormed past me into the kitchen.  Wannabe looked completely stunned, and then burst into tears.  I noticed a bunch of other girls frantically tearing the room apart.  I staggered over to the closest one.
            “What’s up?”  I asked.  “What are you looking for?
            The girl turned to look at me.  I’d never seen such eyes.  Perfect blue, like a lake I could dive into forever.  She had a narrow face and a slightly pointed chin, slight nose and wavy chestnut brown hair that didn’t quite touch her shoulders.  She looked young- like high school young, but she wore the same garnet colored Crowbowl t-shirt that so many were wearing, so she had to be college. 
            “One of my sister’s jackets is missing.  Are you a brother here?” she asked, maybe a hair sharply.
            “Well, no.  I’m a Skull.  I date one of the little sisters here.”
            She looked at me for a second.
            “Wanna help us look?” she asked.
            “Sure what does it look like?”
            The girl pointed at one of her sisters, who wore a jacket.  Typical fraternity jacket.  Garnet with white lettering.  Name in script on the front on the right, W.C.U. on the left.  In large block letters on the back it said “AXP” across the top and “Little Sister” in script across the bottom.  Hard to miss.           

Identical to the Jacket except for the Name
            We searched a few minutes.  I was tossing through the coat pile behind the DJ stand with the Blue Eyed girl. 
            Woaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh half way ther-ah!  Wah-Oh! Livin’ on a  Pray-uh!
            Take mah hand, we’ll make it ah swe-uh!  Wuh-Oh! Livin’ on a  Pray-uh!
            I was so sick of that fucking song!
            “Hey!  Since we’re searching together, what’s your name?”  I asked.
            “What?”  The music was so loud! 
            “What’s your name?”  I shouted.
            She considered a moment- I’m guessing it was whether or not to give her real name. 
            “Jen” she said.
            “JEN!” she shouted.
            “What?”  I was playing with her.
            “JENNIFER!”  She shouted really loud just as the song ended.
            Oh great.  Another Jennifer.  Like we didn’t have enough of them up here already.  “I’m Lance.  Pleased to meet you.  Where was it last?”
            She pointed at a door to the porch.  “There.  The name on the jacket is Michelle.”
            So for the next, I don’t know, long enough to lose my buzz, we turned the first floor and basement upside down.  I managed to get a good look at Jen while we searched.  She was very thin: frail.  Wispy.  Not much of a chest but a beautiful heart shaped ass.  She moved like an athlete.  I also met her boyfriend, the Little Sister Pledge master from their chapter. 
            Eventually Virginia found me looking through the pile coats behind the DJ for the zillionth time.  The beer spots on her sweater dried to round brownish stains more nipples like than before.
            “Would you be upset if I stayed here late?” she shouted in my ear.
            “What’s late?”
            “I dunno” she said.  She was drunk.  “It’s a private event so it doesn’t have to shut down at one thirty.”
            I looked around to the packed living room where Jen was talking in a very animated way to some brother, then to the packed dance floor where everyone writhed to the B-52s.
We were at the beach.
Everybody had… matching towels.
Somebody went under a dock and there they saw a rock.
It wasn't a rock- It was a Rock Lobster!
And I knew the downstairs was packed.  Judy was probably down there somewhere with Rich. 
            “Wanna dance?”  I asked.
            “No, I gotta get back to the bar.  I’m bartending!”  Virginia said.  “So you’re not mad?”  She gave me the sad doe eyes. 
            “Why should I be?  I trust you” I said, smiling.
            She kissed me quickly and disappeared.

            Fuck this.

            I walked over to Jen, my battered blue Members Only coat in hand. 
            “Jenny, it’s been a pleasure meeting you, but I’m heading back to my house.”
            We locked eyes briefly.
            “Jen.  I hate Jenny.  Thanks for your help” she said.
            “I forgot to ask.  Where are you guys from?”
            West Chester University, outside of Philly.”
            Duh.  W.C.U. on the jacket. 
            “I grew up not far from there.  In Spring City.”
            “Oh.  Isn’t that nice?”
            Even I caught that cue to leave.
            “Anyway, best of luck finding the jacket.  Enjoy your stay here at Penn State.” 
            And I left.  Back to Skull House where the party was winding down.  But- here not everyone was Crows.  And no one was hitting on my girlfriend.  I grabbed a couple of beers and found a quietish corner to drink them.
            The jacket was never found.  Let’s face it; there were very few people who could wear this jacket, and only one Penn Stater.  And SHE wasn’t there that night as she went back home for whatever reason.  A week later, the Vice President of Penn State Crow House made a trip down to the West Chester chapter.  I don’t know the exact reason, but I’m betting he brought apologies and beer.

            Jen?  I’d meet her again a few years later.  Small fucking world.


Reader, I married her.
"Jen" and I met again in 1991, and started dating.  We married in 1993.  She is "Wife" in so many of my entries.  That's her modelling her jacket, and her t-shirt that I have pictured.  


Monday, June 18, 2018

Men of the Skull Chapter 51: Bill

This chapter was a bit of a character sketch, but it also introduced someone who would be important later.

This is one of the most "politically incorrect" chapters in the book.  If it ever gets published, this chapter may be highly edited and folded into another.

The Sigma Tau Gamma house in this chapter was torn down in 1997.  AW& Sons owned the property, and gave Sig Tau a month to come up with $500,000 to buy it off them or get out.  Of course, they couldn't raise that sum, so they were out.  The house was quickly demolished, and an apartment building called The Diplomat was built on the site.  That building is still there.

At the time, I lived in Beaver Hill apartments, which was directly across the street from Sig Tau.

Picture:  Google maps.  I added the yellow captions

Bill remained in State College for a while, and Dave stayed in touch with him.  I never saw him again after I graduated.  I know he planned to go career in the Corps.  After a few years, even Dave lost touch with him.  I seem to recall Dave telling me he and Paula divorced, but I forget when.

He would've finished his twenty years long ago, assuming he survived.  I hope he did.


Chapter 51: Bill

Wednesday, March 11, 1987 Test-tube births are condemned

            Bill was a Marine.  He was five foot six, and every inch was Gung Ho, Semper Fi and Squared Away.  Bill was a little fireplug.  He was all muscle and had a very broad, round-ish head with a high, backward sloping forehead.  His hair was dark and always in a high and tight crew cut.  His eyes were small, brown, and wide apart.  He had a small mouth which was locked in a creepy smile.  It became wider when he was angry.  Sometimes he had a wispy attempt a moustache, sometimes not.
Every Marine was proud of carrying that title, and rightfully so- anyone who had the balls to finish that training program should be proud.  However, there was something that Bill different.  It wasn’t just that he lived and breathed the Corps.  No, there was more.
            Bill was crazy.
            You could see it in his eyes. 
Other Marines (who aren’t afraid of anybody) were afraid of Bill.  I was glad he was on our side.
I met Bill at one of Dave’s dorm gatherings.  He taught me how to play Ace Face and drank me under the table with extreme prejudice. 
Ok, another thing that set Bill apart was that he was married.  Married in college?  What the fuck?  That’s like taking sand to a beach!  Well, he was married to a girl named Paula.  She was really fat.  I mean, she seemed to get fatter every time I saw her.  I referred to her a Paula the Hutt when Bill wasn’t around.  And she was as ugly inside as out.  We hated each other.
So this one night I’m at the apartment working on homework when I heard a knock on the door.  It was Bill and Dave- both bloody, roughed up, and drunk.  As always Bill was smiling.
“What the hell happened?”  I asked.
“Got any beer?”  Bill asked back.
“Some Strohs”
“Bill decided to take on all of Sig Tau,” Dave said.  Sig Tau was right across the street from Beaver Hill.  It was the ROTC fraternity.  It was also the house that most closely resembled Delta House from “Animal House.”
Sigma Tau Gamma- 1997.  That was the year it was demolished

I gave Bill a beer. 
“One of those squids insulted the Corps and one of my brothers,” Bill said.  “I couldn’t let that go.”
“Bill was thrown down the stairs,” Dave said.
“Asshole frat boys won’t fight one on one like men,” Bill said.  I didn’t reply to the insult.  I figured it’d be best to let him vent. 
“Meanwhile, some guy says ‘hey ain’t you with him?’ and punches me,” Dave said.
“It was fuckin’ awesome!”  Bill said, smiling even wider, kinda like the Joker.
“Are you guys ok?”  I asked.
“My arm hurts but its nuttin,” Bill said, reaching into the fridge for another few beers.
“Are those beers yours?”  Dave asked.
“No, they’re Mark’s.
Bill handed us each a beer and opened his own. 
“What?  Whose are these?”  Bill asked.
“My roommate’s,” I said.
Bill smiled wider, if that was possible.  “Fuck him.  I buy him more.  I just won’t be buying it tonight.”
I was a little worried that I’d be stuck replacing the beer, oh well- what could I do?  Fight a drunken Bill?
“So how did they throw you down the stairs?”  I asked Bill.
“Well the fuckin’ squid was upstairs in the head and he started talking bad about the Corps.  I told him to stop and he wouldn’t!”
“Squid?”  I said.
“Navy,” Dave said.
I did this.  I wonder if they're still around?

            “So I had to correct his worldview,” Bill said.  “But those faggoty ass frat boys never fight ya man to man.  Noooo, they always gang up.  So there was like four of them and they threw me down the fuckin’ stairs.”  (This number of Sig Tau’s would increase as time went on.  By the time I graduated, Bill had been tossed by no less than ten guys.)
            I looked at Dave.
            “All I saw was him landing on his ass at the bottom of the stairs,” he said, shrugging.  “I picked him up and we beat a hasty retreat here.”
            “Where there’s beer!  Here where there’s beer!” Bill said reaching into the fridge for Marc’s last beer.  He finished three while Dave and I barely started ours.  He wiped a trickle of blood off his forehead with his right sleeve.
            “Are you sure you’re ok?”  I asked Bill.  “You seem to be favoring your left arm. 
            “Yeah.  Ain’t nothing a fucking beer can’t fix.  Semper Fi!”
            Bill chugged his beer.
            After a hefty burp, Bill asked Dave “You ready to hit some bars?”
            Dave chugged his beer, much more slowly.  He handed me the empty.  “Thanks” he said.  And off they went, leaving me holding a half drunken beer, five empties, and homework to finish.
            True to his word, Bill showed up the next day, sprained arm in a sling, and a six pack of Strohs to replace the one drunk the night before.

Photo:  Google Maps

Walking to School

This entry is actually a re-run of sorts.  Occasionally, I'll take a walk in an area that I used to frequent in another part of my life.  During the walk, I take pictures, which I post on facialbook with my memories of that specific location.

I did this the other day.  The idea behind this one was that I wanted to know exactly how far I walked to elementary school.  I know that these days, suburban white kids don't walk to school- school buses chauffeur them door to door.  This was not the case when I was in school.

Last August, I walked from the house where i grew up in Spring City to my high school in Royersford.  The other day, I walked from that same house to my elementary school.  When I posted the pics and memories, I got a little carried away, making little maps and such.

Didn't get much of a reaction from it, which may have something to do with me finishing it at 2 AM.  In any case, I decided to post it here as well.  So here it is.  Unlike Facialbook, which had a few pics out of order, this is in chronological order.

Map of Spring City, showing relevant area

Uphill. Both ways. Barefoot. This was the route I walked from kindergarten all the way until 6th grade (age 4-11) I often walked it alone: 9/10 of a mile. Most kids walked then. Not these days.

Before going to Spring City. 100+ SPF sunscreen on. 2 sources of hydration (one for the car)

I parked in the fire house parking lot. The white house in the center of the screen is my start point- the house where I grew up.  Hall Street Spring City

Looking up Hall Street. That wall on the right is recent.

Up the street. This house has been heavily renovated. When I was around 3 or 4, there was a family here who had a girl my age named Tammy. Tammy was hit by a car, and we never saw her again. The family moved soon after.

We kids never heard if Tammy survived that hit. I assume not, as all the kids on the street got a huge lecture about "looking both ways."

This has always stuck with me.

Near the top of my block is this grove of trees. It's on private property, belonging to the pastor of neighboring church (it was Baptist when I was growing up.) The pastor had no problem with the neighborhood kids climbing his trees. So we did.

The one in front was my favorite to climb. It had a lot of forked branches which made it easy to climb.

Intersection of Broad and Church Sts, looking SW up the Hall St hill.
During winter, if it snowed enough, this street would be closed for sledding.
The fenced area on the left is a municipal basketball court. The house on the right wasn't there while I lived in SC.

The X indicates where I stood, and the arrow the direction I was facing

Looking uphill. Church St. Facing NE

Hall and Church sts. Borough hall. That monument is for Sherwood Hallman, one of 2 people from Spring City to be awarded the Medal of honor. He is buried in France (though when I was growing up I thought he was buried here.)

This is the yard next to the church. There used to be a HUGE chestnut tree there, right about where the car is in the center of the picture.

It was in this yard that the neighborhood kids would play football- often tackle, as most of the kids were the same age (2-3 years older than me) and it was what guys did.

I almost didn't take this one. Looking WSW up Airy St. Those steps lead up to the apartment where my first sensei lived. He was a Vietnam vet- US Army Special Forces. (He showed me his medals a few times)

One day in the mid 1980s, he came home early to find his wife in bed with his brother. Knowing better than to let my sensei get near him, the brother shot my sensei dead with a shotgun.

I was away at college when this happened.

Church St. Brick sidewalk, which was very common in Spring City when I was growing up. Most of these sidewalks have since been replaced.

Church and Chestnut Sts, looking SE. When I was a kid, this house was a wreck. There were hedges where the iron wrought fence is now, and they were overgrown to the height of the second floor. Rumor was that a crazy old lady lived there. And of course, there were rumors it was haunted.

While I was at college, new owners took over, and renovated the house and grounds, making it a showpiece today.

Church and Chestnut looking uphill. WSW Of all the inclines I had to scale on my way to school, this was the steepest.

Spring City is built on the side of a hill- going from 90 ft at the river to over 250 feet at the elementary school, which pretty much sits at the highest point in town.

My childhood was one of climbing hills.

Again, the X is where I was standing, the arrow the direction I was facing.

This house is the site of the house where my first non-family bully lived. The house where his family lived is gone. I wrote about him in the blog entry HERE.

Row house on Chestnut St. Typical of the houses in SC. Turn of the 20th century I think.  My friend Howard pointed out that the house with the siding is where he grew up.

View from Chestnut St to the Spring City Pool.

Again, X is where I stood, arrow is facing.

This house had a HUGE hedge next to it which followed the alley. It reached at least 30 ft and was relatively well maintained. I was thrown into that hedge many times by the one bully.

Looking ENE dowhill on Chestnut st. At the crest. I had to stop here- the climb of the street hills winded me. It used to be easy.

Here's something you don't see every day anymore! A Honda del Sol! This one is actually light pink (it looks like it was white, then went through the wash with something red.). I miss my del Sol.

Sidewalk art on Chestnut St. Note the rainbow to the left.  :)

This house (and the house to its left) are newer. There used to be only one house on that block- the one barely visible through the trees. The guy owned the whole thing.
It was parceled and built upon while I was at college.

The circled house used to be the only one on that block.

Chestnut St looking toward Wall St. I always thought these people were "rich folks" because they had front yards. Actually, that first house on the left wasn't there. In that place was a steep embankment then a large vegetable garden.

Approaching Church and Wall St.

Looking NW up Wall St. The kids walking from that end of town (Broad St, New St, etc) would come this way, towards where I was standing. Some of these kids walked a LONG way to school- maybe a mile and a half (like from Arch St and Bridge st and further.)

At Chestnut and Wall St, looking SSE. Here is where the kids from my direction and those coming over the Wall St hill would converge.

This is Wall and Brown Sts. When I was in 5th and 6th grade, I was on the safety patrol, and this was my station. Brown St. is really just a large alley, so there were few cars turning down it. I was kinda superfluous.

Safeties were at pretty much each corner, yelling at kids to "walk!" not run, and stopping them when traffic was coming through the intersection

The X is my station.

Looking ENE down Brown St, toward the Spring City Pool.

At the intersection of Wall St and Park Ave. looking west.

Park Ave was where, while i was in Junior High, the Park Springs Apartments were built. These were subsidized housing and caused quite an uproar back then. Many of the adults were angry that black people (not the term they used) would drive down property values and cause a dramatic increase in crime.

Many kids were warned to stay away from Park Springs for fear of being attacked by "those N-----s"
When I first walked through Park Springs, when I was in high school, I was very scared.

Looking SE down Wall St towards the school (beyond the trees.) The funny thing was that Wall Street was the dividing line between our school district (Spring Ford) and the neighboring one (Owen J Roberts.) The line went down the middle of the street.

So from this perspective, the kids on the left side of the street were Spring Ford, and attended Spring City Elementary, while the kids on the right went to Owen J, and were bussed to Elementary school somewhere.

The kicker? SC Elementary is on the right side of the street- in Owen J territory.  :D

Wall St. This house was owned by Mrs. Wherley, who was my favorite teacher in all of my Spring Ford years. She taught 11th grade English, and strongly encouraged me to write.

Mrs Wherley passed in 2011 at the age of 82.

School is done for the summer, yet still the light blinks!

These hedges weren't there when i was a kid, but the trees were. More on them on another picture.

These trees and bushes obscure what used to be a common path for many from Wall St to Poplar St. A "short cut" that skirted the grove of trees surrounding a creek.

X indicates spot I was standing. Arrow indicates the old "shortcut."

This used to be path down to a creek. At the east side of this grove of trees, the creek entered a pipe. This pipe was corrugated metal, maybe 4 ft wide. As kids, we all used to walk through these pipes (there were 4 such pipes around town.) These pipes carried the creek under the streets to whatever other open grove was next. 3 of these pipes were a few hundred yards long. The 4th was much longer, and rumor was that there were snakes in it, so no one went in it.

View of the elementary school from Wall st. The trees were planted relatively recently.  This is pretty much the highest point in town.  100 years ago, there was a horse racing track on this site.

Looking back down Wall st the way I came. Loose balls from the playground would roll down the hill on the left, cross the street, and stop at the curb in the right.

The last crosswalk before... school.

Looking to the right, there is now a fence around the playground. When a ball used to get loose, it used to go all the way down the street, kid chasing it until it stopped on the opposite curb.

Top of the driveway- school entrance.

From the school entrance. The closest tree was planted while I was in the 6th grade. Our whole class was there to "help" (watch.) The others were planted after my time.

School entrance.

The metal grating things were there when I was. Kids used to sit in these while waiting for any rides.

Looking back down the driveway from the entrance.

At the base of the driveway was the home one of my classmates, Vince. He obviously had the shortest walk of anyone.

Senior year, he killed himself with a shotgun. The ambulance where I volunteered was covering for SC at the time, so I saw the result. My first suicide call.

I will never forget what I saw there.

Sometimes I would go home a different way- usually if I was going over my best (only) friend's house. Dr. Dave. This is looking SE on Wall St (across from the school) up the hill.

Sidewalks in Spring City were often broken- usually because of the harsh winters (seems like we had more snow then) or tree roots undermining them.

Note the rock-concrete mixture. They don't make them like that now. Probably for good reason.

Corner of Wall St and Washington St Looking SE.

Looking NE down Washington St.

Corner of Washington and S. Cedar St. I would always get anxious around here- as my "second" bully lived on this street. He's been dead for decades, yet I still felt a touch of fear.

Amazing what being bullied does to the mind and soul.

Washington and S. Cedar Sts. The street disappears into a very steep curving hill, which was also closed for sledding on snowy winter days.

Washington st. Blurry picture, sorry. The left side of this double house (enclosed porch) is where my "second" bully, Tim, lived. I wrote about him in this blog entry.

Washington St. My best friend in school, Dr. Dave, grew up here. I wrote about him in this blog entry.

Washington St, across from Dr. Dave's. That fenced in area was once an open space, where the neighborhood kids would play.

Washington St. There used to be a wide hedge along this driveway. When I was a kid, I could crawl under it, and hide. I did that several times when chased by bullies.

In this unusually built house (none other like it in town) lived my friend Sam. Sam, Dave, and I used to play D&D through junior high school until I got the Burger king job.

Sam also attended PSU, and went on to become a talented plastic surgeon, specializing in cosmetic breast augmentation surgery.

This is where a BK co-worker, now friend, Myla lived.  Her mother was an assistant manager at BK.  She didn't like me (though I never understood why), and the feeling was mutual.

Corner of Washington and Church Sts, looking due north. When I was in elementary school, this was the Smiley house. The oldest son Joel (he went by Scott) was in my grade. He had 3 younger brothers, all of whom were terrific athletes. Their cousin, John, was a big league pitcher.

Scott's dad was also a scout master. I'd made it to Webelos (between cub scout and boy scout) by then, and meetings were held here. The kids from this side of Poplar st didn't like people from "my side of town" (4 blocks over) coming into their neighborhood. Led by my bully Tim, they would pelt me and another guy with acorns, walnuts, chestnuts, rocks- whatever, if we dared cross Poplar St.

Tim would pursue me and beat the hell out of me if I were caught. I reported this to the scout master, and those guys got in trouble... which only made it far worse. Those kids would come looking for me. That's why I never made it to Boy Scout level.

I quit, rather than be thrashed 2-3 times a week. That's when I started learning martial arts.
Scott was always a good guy. In 7th grade, his family moved to Phoenixville, where all the boys eventually played baseball with Hall of Famer Mike Piazza. Scott is now a teacher.

Again, X marks where I stood to take the picture, and the red arrow is the direction I'm facing

Looking NW up Church st.

Two trees at the crest of the hill on Church St. Note the really old street light.  The closer tree has a story...

During the whole "Acorn War" fiasco, (after the scoutmaster was informed of the trouble) my bully Tim managed to catch me, and threw me against the trunk of this tree. There he pummelled me in the face and head like a boxer stuck in a corner. Eventually, I collapsed, and he started kicking me. I don't know why he stopped- maybe an adult saw him and chased him off. I don't know. I crawled northwest to hide under a hedge until I was strong enough to limp home. I had trouble breathing (probably broken ribs.) When I got home, I stumbled upstairs to the bathroom, washed up, and went to my room. My parents weren't home. I never told them about this. 

I never went to Webelos again. 

That day, I resolved to start martial arts. 

I still remember the humiliation- the taunts- and the pain of that beating. It still makes me angry, to be so helpless- so alone- with people watching and laughing. When I used to get into fights after college, I always imagined my target as Tim, though he'd died years before.

Again, red x is where I stood to take the picture, arrow shows my facing.

Church st looking NW (downhill) toward Poplar St.

Between Church St and the apartment buildings was this grove of trees, in which was a steep gravelly hill. I assume it was man-made when they built the apartments. It was another place for "adventures" when very young, or to hide when the whole "Acorn war" thing happened. It's overgrown now.

Highview Gardens, looking WSW from Church St. I looked into this place when Linda and I were desperate for housing, but determined that living in my car would be better.

See that dark spot in that grove of trees? That's a trail access to another creek with a Pipe to climb through.

Poplar St looking SW.

 Again, red x is where I stood, blah blah.

This was a site of a small green pasteboard shack. in it was a family with 2 teen girls (while I was in elementary school.) I forget how I met them, but they were very typical 70s girls, with the yarn and beer can hats and Led Zeppelin patches on their jeans. They introduced me to the term "funky." Everything was "funky."

Corner of Church and Poplar, looking NW

Church St looking NE. This grove is the other side of the pipe from the previous one. The creek ran 2 blocks NE from here to the "pipe with the snakes." I used to play here a LOT when I was a younger kid, usually alone.

Red X is my location, red arrow facing.

Church St looking NW toward Chestnut St.

Church St, near Chestnut. Mulberries from the bushes/tree next to the sidewalk. Wild Mulberries were plentiful when I was a kid. Yes, We all ate them (off the branches, not from the ground.)

Church and Chestnut sts, looking NW. Wasn't I here before?

Looking ENE down Chestnut St from the intersection with Church St. Again, a steep hill.  The church in this picture is the United Church of Christ.  Yes, I lived within 2 blocks from three churches.

Sometimes going home, I'd go down Chestnut st to the church parking lot and cut through. That fence is recent, and means I can't follow the path I wanted.

That said, This parking lot was where I learned to ride a 2 wheel bike. My brother put me on his bike (which was too big for me) and push me down the hill toward the far corner down there. Before reaching it was a grating with a lot of gravel, where I would "ditch" to stop, whichmade my brother laugh.

I did this 9 or 10 times, but by the end of that day, despite all the "road rash," I could ride a 2 wheel bike.

We also played baseball here, with home plate being the aforementioned grating. If a foul ball went onto the low roof, we'd scale the wall to get it.

Red X is where I stood, red arrow is facing.

When we played baseball, the home base would be the grating (off picture to the right) second base to the left. That tall tree used to have more branches, and the bigger kids would knock the (tennis) ball through them. 

We also played football here, usually at night, as the church parking lots were very bright.  

Red x, me; Red arrow, facing. Base locations (except for home) are approximations, and would be rocks, a can, someone's glove... whatever.

Chestnut St, across from the church. The top 2 left windows were of the apartment where a kid named Danny lived. He was in my grade (elementary school) and was lower on the social totem pole than me (if that was possible.) He and I used to trade books occasionally. 

I'm told he killed himself while I was in college.  To my knowledge, five of the people from my grade (class of 1984) committed suicide, out of 275.  That's 1.8%.  That's abnormally high.  

Chestnut st across from the church. Back in 84, this house caught fire. The woman living there said her "baby" was still inside. Several of us from the rescue squad put on oxygen gear and went inside. We searched the smoke and fire choked house and didn't find anyone. 

We then received a message to come out.

The "baby" was her cat. We didn't find it. Took a while, but the fire was put out.

A week later, the cat was found alive- between floors.

My path that day. I turned it off on Chestnut st after I went approximately the distance I would've travelled through the church parking lots.  

Chestnut and Main sts. In the house on the left used to live a person who was amazing at twirling a baton. I never knew if the person was male or female. Every night, they would practice a couple of hours. I know this because I saw them everyday walking home from the bus in junior high and high school, and if I passed the house during summer. 

I think they were 5-6 years older than me. I guessed that they did baton in college as well.
The small building on the right was the office of Carl's Garage, owned by my next door neighbor, Mr. Carl. The actual repair garage was down a small hill behind the office.

Latshaw's bakery was in business when I was a kid. We'd get candy here. Main St near Hall St. It's been closed since 1975.  Their cash register, the "pull handle" variety, is now in a museum.

Door of Latshaw's bakery. I truly wonder if anyone's been in there since it closed in the early 80s. It definitely hasn't been painted since then.

Base of firehouse parking lot, Main St. Looking due west uphill to my home on Hall St. The parking lot snaked around the building. The upper parking lot was the site of the old fire house, which was torn down in the early 70s.

Upper firehouse parking lot, bordering Hall St. The kids played baseball here once when I was around 8 (so 1974-ish). Home plate was off to the left, out of the picture, third base against that guard rail. I batted a tennis ball through the window to the left of the door. 

The other kids scattered. I went to the door and knocked to take responsibility for my action. The old man knew who I was (I lived across and up the street from him), yelled at me for my stupidity (it was a stupid place to play baseball), and said he'd call my dad. I offered to pay for a new window.
My dad was home, and got the call before I arrived. I expected to get beaten, but I didn't. Dad was mad at me, yes, but since I took responsibility for what I'd done, I wasn't punished. 

I didn't get allowance for 4 months, after which the window was paid (dad paid initially- I "paid him back.")

The neighborhood kids made fun of me for not running away. But I've ALWAYS taken responsibility for my actions.

And often very blame for others as well.  Is there any wonder why I'm so passionate about Justice?

Hall St, looking SSE toward location of old fire whistle. There is a pole there, but the old horn apparatus is gone (maybe replaced with something smaller?) It was VERY loud so it could summon volunteer firefighter from all around town (before they all had scanners/pagers.) As I lived RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET it was deafening- especially when trying to sleep.

X where I stood. Arrow for facing.

Closeup of top of the pole.

(That was the end of the fb part.)

I searched the internet for a picture of the old siren, but I couldn't find one.  I found one that looked a LOT like it though.  I remember all the neighborhood dogs would howl with pain when it went off.  I don't blame them.

Our siren was gray though.  

I also found a picture of the old firehouse.

On the facialbook post of this thing, I didn't "wrap it up" or conclude anything.  It just ended.  I've had a few days to think about it.

That night I fell into a deep depression.  The walk brought up disturbing memories, most of which are not mentioned, as I don't... you really don't need my sh*t burdening you.  Mostly the walk brought up memories of the intense loneliness I felt as a child.  Walking up Hall St, I walked past the old homes of the kids I knew, most of whom were early tormentors.

"Get over it!  It was 40 years ago!"  Yes, it was.  But that loneliness, that bullying- it formed the core of who I am- male or female.  I was born transgender, yes.  I wasn't born with a broken soul.  The lessons I learned on the streets of that dying town (and believe me, many of the places look a LOT better now then they did then!) were that I could trust VERY few people, and count on NO ONE when in danger.  As I could trust few, rely on none, and had the horrible "freakish" secret buried inside me, I avoided people.  Not that it would've mattered much, as no one wanted me around anyway.  

Were there any positives to it all?  Well, as I wrote elsewhere, I used to construct elaborate fantasies and storylines in my head.  I used to escape into them while playing alone in the woods, or wherever.  I believe that is what spurred my ability to write... although I'm probably wrong.  In my imagination, I was the girl I knew I was.

From another recent walk, near the river.  In my imagination, this trail would lead to a hidden evil monster that only I, the most powerful heroine in the world could defeat.  

I REALLY hate thinking about my childhood, but I've been thinking about it of late because I have a child- my daughter.  I see her maybe once a week.  She has friends, I'm told, but there are few if any kids on the street where she lives, but, even if there were, there are no sidewalks to walk on, and if even if there were, she would be picked up by the police for being unsupervised.  "Free range parenting" is what they now call how my generation, and the ones before it, were raised.  And it's against the law in many states.  Because bad things happen.  

Well they happened when I was growing up as well.  Bullies, predators... they just weren't in the news.  And there were literally many fewer people.  When I was driving in Spring City that day, there was a LOT of traffic- it's like the number of cars has increased ten-fold.  Is that because SC is now a "bedroom community" where before it was more isolated?  I have no idea.  But more people means, statistically, more bad people.

So there you have it.  My thoughts about that jaunt.  

Any wonder why I'm so screwed up?