I grew up in the sixties and early seventies. Back then we didn’t have the electronic wonders that kids have today. We had T.V. and radio. We had a record player and vinyl records. That was it. I remember getting our first color T.V.. If you wanted to watch something on another of the five stations it would receive, you got up, walked across the room and turned the channel knob. This, by the way, was the only time me and my brother were ever allowed to touch the T.V.; when my parents wanted the channel changed. We could watch cartoons on Saturday mornings but the rest of the time the T.V. was off limits. That was alright though because we always had plenty to do. One of the things I did as a kid was build car models. I’ve always been creative and it was fun learning about the parts of cars and what they did. I had a friend back then who also built models and one of his favorites was a truck he made. He lived in an apartment with his mom and Grandpa over the bar his Grandpa owned.
The truck model sat in a prominent place on a shelf by the stairs leading down to the bar. It was a beauty. Although I don’t remember the color, I remember the chrome. And the fat tires. Now there was an old man who worked for his grandpa at the bar who hated us kids. He cussed us out and chased us off every chance he got. I suppose we probably didn’t make it easy for him, you know how kids can be. Anyway, as it happened, this cranky old guy took to going up the stairs when no one was around and putting out his cigar in the bed of my friend’s truck model. I don’t know if my friend ever complained about it but it kept on happening. When the model started to warp he finally had enough. So he devised a plan to put an end to it. Or an end to something anyway.
So he took the model truck off the shelf and carefully dumped out all the ash and butts. Next he cut open a bunch of firecrackers and put all the gunpowder in the model truck bed. Carefully putting back the ash and cigar butts, he put the model back in its place on the shelf. And waited. Now I’m a person who can see into the future. I could see the bar burning to the ground. It did in fact, burn to the ground one day, but not from this. Anyway, my friend told me that the next time he saw the old man his fingers were all taped up. Of course I’m sure this didn’t help him to like us kids any better but my friend put another model truck in the old one’s place and no one ever put out a cigar in it. I guess the old adage is not true. You really can teach an old dog new tricks.
Today the kids are burning their eyes out staring at video screens instead of burning a few firecrackers. I once took one of my least liked car models, covered it in lighter fluid, set it on fire and shoved it down the street pretending it had just been in a crash. I’ve also carried a pocket knife since I was about ten years old, smashed a go-cart into a cement wall and fell backward off my bike onto the asphalt street without a bike helmet, and got 52 stitches in my head from a car accident all by the age of sixteen. And I think I’ve played a video game twice. I can’t imagine what kind of stories today’s kids are going to tell their kids when they’re my age. I’m glad my dad liked firecrackers. And go-carts.