Friday, February 11, 2011


It had all started as a lazy summer day in a cherry tree, the three of us filling our cheeks and wondering what a city boy was going to do the next three months. Then we moved on to Mrs. Domdalskis Raspberry patch, conveniently located in the far corner of her backyard, just out of sight from her kitchen window. From there we could see the Duchess’ Mansion, abandoned and inhabited only by whatever spirit the old Austrian lady had left after her death last year. Perhaps that is where it began, as we eyed the dog entry chute that led to a room on the second floor of the mansion, the chute that her little Bichon Frissee dog named Edelweiss had used while the Duchess lived out her last days.
Or maybe it was at the McMillan Mansion, next to 3-Mile Park, where we eyed the huge grounds on the way to fly our kites at the park. The grounds stretched for a good mile, from the entry gate, down the tree lined drive, past the eight car garage and servants quarters, through shrubs and hedgerows and past the huge Manor to the backyard that lay on a downhill slope, full of prize roses and heritage tulips imported direct from the old country, until you reached the shores of Lake St. Clair.
Or maybe it was at Bill Spencers 4th Grade Birthday Party where we went to see “The Great Escape” which sparked our sense of adventure and stealth.
Likely it was all these things that sent us exploring that summer.

We ran the back-cuts, Dave and Greg and I, and we ran the backyards. We called ourselves "The Blue Raiders" because we thought it sounded cool. There was no way that we could have known that after I moved to Texas, “Blue Raider” would be the name of my High School Mascot. Dave showed us a way to hop a fence without ever breaking stride. We could be up and over, back-cut down the sideway, through the brush and break free past a kitchen window without being so much as a blur. We were as shadows turned to smoke then vanished in thin air. By summers end we had popped up just about everywhere we shouldn’t have been and done things I won’t tell you all about here.
I will tell you that after you went up the Duchesses dog-chute that emptied on the second floor, you would find a dumb-waiter that went from the kitchen to a great hall on the Second floor, and then continued up into the lady’s bedroom on the Third.
I will tell you that some people found that their clotheslines had been cut, their roses tramples, their hydrangeas deflowered by little pen-knives.
That little old ladies in flowered bonnets would grab a pail to put strawberries from the garden in and find that…there were no strawberries left.
And that old men would stare down heart broke at what had been a ripe and full Rhubarb plant, to find that it was entirely gone, replaced by empty packs of sugar strewn across the garden..
And on more than one occasion along the lakefront properties, a Groundskeeper would have to rescue lawn furniture thrown into the lake from the lakeside Gazebo.

Boys will be boys I suppose, and even now I wonder how often we did these things. But I can’t imagine doing them very long, or for any length of time where we wouldn’t have been caught, just like Steve McQueen in the Great Escape. It doesn’t matter how slick you are, you do anything long enough or enough times and you are going to get caught.

I remember the day we did get caught, although for a misdemeanor far less serious than the ones we had been committing.
We had staked out Mr. Bowles Tomato patch, just behind his garage next to Windmill Drive. It was a perfect spot, with a curve in the road where a car would pass, and a vine ripe Tomato could be heaved at the windshield, and we could duck past the back-cut slide sideways and down past the heather and over the fence, safely into my backyard.
We were down to all green tomatoes, and little ones at that, when our luck ran out. We were over the fence into my backyard before you could say ‘Jack-bananas” but the lady driver had gotten a glimpse of us going over the fence.
She rolled up into my driveway, un-beknownst to us boys crouched and giggling in my back yard, went and knocked at the door and when my mother answered, asked:
“Do you happen to know three little boys that are as thick as thieves?”

My dad wore me out that night.


Anonymous said...

I admire your storytelling ability so much. Your stories, ditto. Hey Pal!

UF Mike

bulletholes said...

Thanks mike! I like the way this one came out. You must know it is 100% true, we all did this kinda stuff, and I actually got to talk to Greg about 3 weeks ago.
First time to talk since we disbabded the Raiders back in 1968.

GEWELS said...

Boys will be boys and Steve will be Steve.
Great stories. I am constantly amazed at your memory and attention to detail. I can't remember what I had for dinner let alone the names of my childhood playmates or adults.
Hi Steve,
Happy Valentine's day!

bulletholes said...

Gewels, through the magic of the Internet I actually got to talk to Greg, whom i had not seen or heard from since 1968. Very cool.
Happy Valley Day!

Martijn said...

As everyone else has said: a great story told greatly.

David Kanigan said...

Wonderful story!