Friday, November 03, 2006

NOVEMBER (a slight reprise)

Continued from and inspired by November.
Thanks Greg Brown, you have done what poets do.

Grosse Point Park, Michigan; 3 miles north of Detroit; 3 miles north of the Maritime Sailors Cathedral
Louis Agnon was my best friend and lived 5 houses up on the corner of Essex and Trombley. In November of 1963 we were both 6 and in Mrs. Sherman’s (the German, we liked to say) First Grade class.
Every house in the neighborhood had a basement except for mine. Louis’ house was special as well in that he had a detached garage and even the garage had a basement. We were not allowed down there and there were locks on the doors to keep people out and the windows were soaped to keep anyone from peering in.
There was an Acorn tree, tall and slender, in my backyard and this is where Louis and I spent most of our time. We could get so far up, up in the tippy-top and we could make that tree sway back and forth creating a swath that could easily measure 15 feet. It was like riding a 50 foot high teeter-totter with him on one side of the “trunk’ now tapered to only 3 inches and I on the other.
From our perch we could see out over the rooftops and a block away to Lake St. Clair where the big ore boats took their loads to the Steel mills. They had come from Lake Superior and were relatively safe now having put some distance between themselves and “the big lake they call Gitchee-Goomie”.
From our perch we would discuss what could possibly be in the mysterious basement of his Garage. It could’nt be good, that much we knew.
Maybe it was flooded and filled with old tires, reptiles and detritus of all kinds.
Maybe the was a cache of stolen money, bags of gold coins and bundled bills.
Maybe his father knew some tough guys that used it to “squeeze” people like James Cagney did in the movies.
Probably there was some mutant monster, a terrible creature that had gone long unfed, waiting, waiting, waiting...

The ‘Summer of Love” was still 5 years away, Rob and Laura Petrie were still safe in separate beds, and Louis and I knew nothing of the mechanics of Sex ... but we did know that there was definitely SOMETHING there. We would talk about all the girls in our class and which ones were kissable and how we would go about getting them alone to do just that.
It was Lori Sundburg that emerged as the 1st Grade equivalent of Marilyn Monroe.

September turned to October and October to November. We were forced to abandon our trees for the shelter of my room to watch T.V.
“Maverick” and “The Man from UNCLE” and "Wild Wild West"... we used to view the best while we played Mousetrap.

Then one day in the most somber of months the news broke like a lightning flash.
“The Winds of November came Slashin'...
...the Witch of November came Stealin'"
And the Steel guitar in Gordon Lightfoot's Song about the Edmund Fitzgerald along with his haunting lyrics describes the month, the day and the gloom that fell over the country.
The President was dead.
He and that ship had a lot in common.
The T.V. man said "Assassinated".

Of course Louis and I had much discussion over this event and when they caught the guy we were delighted to imagine what to do with him.
Hangin’ from a Sour Apple Tree was too good for this guy.
Stabbing with a thousand little knives was too quickly done.
Chained to a bag of concrete and dumped into Lake St. Clair offered no real appreciable trauma.
First Runner up in our choices was to lock him up into the aforementioned basement to be chewed up by whatever the hell was down there.

But the worst thing we could imagine, Louis and I, was to have the slimeball’s wiener cut off.
We had no idea why but we knew he would miss that the most.


Barbara said...

It's a good thing they didn't put you and Louis in charge of torture at Guantanamo! Do you remember the case a few years ago of a woman who did exactly this to her scumbag of a husband, throwing it out the window of a car, where it was retrieved and sewn back on? That was sensational news. Her name was Lorena Bobbit.

Annelisa said...

yeouch! and owch!

Wonderful story - I was engrossed from the beginning, wanting to know what was going to happen!

Mother of Invention said...

Well, in view of this fate, it might have been more than the Nov. winds and waves that were a 'slashin'!

Young kids are so funny! I was in Gr. 5 in that year. I remember it well. It was a shock to us here too.

Where were you living then? Must have been on Superior? Not many houss in Texas have basements do they?

Anonymous said...

lyrical......caught me immediately (and you didn't even have to mention food - :) You do have a way with words, Steve! My first big 'memory' was of Neil Armstrong walking on the moon.......ran into an elderly couple at a park way back in college....they were 'running' from the feds......said they knew the whole moon walk was a fake!!! I'll never forget both incidents - she had on pink keds....


steve said...

RDG- Keds were a Classic- youi are aware that Keds had a "wedge" built in to the show that increased speed and power...or so it was advertised.
MOI- I was living in Grosse Point Park, a suburb just north of Detroit. one of the subjects we were taught in Grade school was Chippewa Indian lore, superior being Gitchee-goomie and their great spirits name being Manibozo. We moved back to texas when I was 6 after the second summer that Detroit burned and riots were everywhere. When " The Wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald" came out i had a very rewal context to it as I had seen the Freighters and Mills and had even "Prayed in the Maritime Sailors Cathedral" which is very real, not made up and right off the Lake in Detroit.
Annelisa-thank you so much,it was fun to write and from where it wqs inspired i don't know- it just seemed to apppear; it is factual. ive seen your stuff and you are quits good-I tried to follow Gregs Browns lead and give a feel for an event without really talking about the event itself. not bad for a guy that has been writing Menus and Job descriptions for 30 years.
barb- I remember that, and am surprised it doesn't happen more often. The mind of a young boy is centrered around the morbid, morose amd macabre. We would have excelled at Guantanamo.

Old Lady said...

Bravo, thunderous applause, great post!

steve said...
This comment has been removed by the author.