Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Night Owls

I've always found big cities to be intriguing  at night. 

After I finished Officers Candidate School, I went to Fort Holabird in Baltimore, Maryland for 4 months of Army Intelligence officer training. I rented an apartment for the duration in a building located just a couple of blocks from Peabody's Book Shop.

Bars in Baltimore were required to serve at least one hot food item to keep their liquor license and they all seemed to somehow manage to avoid duplication. The bar near my apartment was a neighborhood gathering spot and served an outrageously good ham and bean soup.

Every day an old man would come through the area with a horse-drawn wagon piled high with a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. He would ring his bell as he went along and people would come out to the street to buy from him. Occasionally on the weekend, local artists would display and sell their work along the sidewalk.

It was an eclectic neighborhood filled with interesting people that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Once in a while, I would go out late at night and just walk around that part of Baltimore. During one of these walks, a young boy about 10 years old appeared out of the shadows and started walking beside me.

William was a smart kid and we walked together around that part of Baltimore for a couple of hours. We didn't talk much, and when it got close to midnight, I told him I had to go home to get some sleep before going to class the next day. We said good-bye, I headed back to my apartment, and William faded back into the shadows.

I made many more night owl excursions in Baltimore, but I never saw William again.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Fire Drill

When I was about 9 years old, we lived in a big two story house in Hutchinson Kansas. My father worried about us being able to get out of the house if we were upstairs and there was a fire. He bought a long rope, tied big knots in it every 12 inches, and then tied it to the bed post next to the window. He had us practice throwing the rope out the window and then using the knots to climb down to the ground.

My 7 year old brother, Chuck, and I thought this was enormous fun.

In the summer, the neighborhood kids would roam from yard to yard unencumbered by the fences that are so common now. One summer afternoon while my mother was at the house next door, the neighborhood swarm of kids ended up at our house. My mother came home to find my brother and me along with half a dozen other kids conducting fire drills by climbing out of the upstairs bedroom window and going down the rope.