I also made friends with a few others in the street and as David was not allowed to play with certain people in the street, for some reason or other, his father being a minister of the cloth after all, I played with these other friends on the days that David T was at sports practice at his school and only returned after dark. First there was John W, a boy of my own age and the Dennis the Menace of the neighbourhood. If there was trouble you would be sure to find John W in the middle of it.
I have already mentioned that plastic was the new miracle product and every conceivable object was suddenly produced of plastic, the most stupid being post boxes. John W had discovered that if you ‘posted a Big Bang firecracker’ the plastic post boxes were blown to smithereens. I must point out that Big Bangs were almost the size of dynamite sticks. He also discovered the same thing happened to Coke-a -Cola bottles when one of these firecrackers was placed inside one, a very dangerous thing to attempt as the wicks burned fast and you had to reattach the lid after the insertion of the firecracker, not the screw type lids of today, there was always the chance of the bottle exploding in your hands. With all that flying glass you would be lucky if you only lost your hands and not your eyesight as well.
Children all believe that they are immune to harm and invincible to boot, I am sure that all children believe that statement. I think you are getting the idea why Reverend T did not allow his son to mix with John W. My parents were fortunately not privy to the same information that the good Reverend probably had on his congregation. Also my mother was friendly with Mrs W, most of my mother’s friends were our friend’s mothers as she really had very little time to meet other women outside my father’s business associate’s wives.
Next door to John W lived John and Michael d.P. To differentiate the two Johns, John W was known as little John and Mike’s brother as big John. Big John’s father worked for Dunlop tyres, and his mother was Daphne, never Mrs d.P. As big John was thirteen and Michael eleven they were a lot older than us, as there was no one of their own age group in the street they allowed us to tag along.
One of the things that the d.P boys had that was very groovy ( the word used for cool in the sixties) was the fact that each possessed a pellet gun that they allowed little John and I to play with. Our main targets being the birds that flocked to the mulberry tree in the d.P’s back yard. Pigeons and doves being the most valuable, as you see there was a Native gentleman that would buy the birds as long as they were fresh, from us for ten cents each if the size of a dove or bigger, and five cents each for the smaller birds. He in turn sold them to the domestic workers in our area.
As a box of pellets cost twenty five cents, we were always able to shoot as often as we liked as the birds paid for the ammunition, there was five hundred pellets in a box. When we were bored with shooting birds, or there were a lack of them we devised other targets. One day being very bored we decided to play chicken with pellet guns, the idea being that a target was set up, a tin can as I recall, and someone ran in front of the target, as the person neared the target the shooter tried to hit the target. The real object was to shoot between the runners legs. A disaster waiting to happen and it did. Little John was shot in the back of his kneecap by one of the two shooters being Michael and myself.
Michael took the blame, but that did not stop all of us being punished by our respective parents in their unique ways, some harsher than others. That was the end of the pellet guns when we were around.
Today I understand what little savages we were, and how we needlessly shot the wild life that were needed to help not only our gardens to grow, but that brought joy and happiness to the whole area with their songs. It will be a very sad world when the songs of birds disappear. To indiscriminately kill, when there is no absolute need, is an abomination.
Little John had a sister that I was madly in love with, her name was Phyllis, she on the other hand was a little older than me and I do not think that she was even aware of my existence. There was an occasion that she gave me a hug and I was able to hug her back, the only highlight of my adoration for her. As I told Hubby “I hugged her so tight she shrank up”.
Big John and Michael were not always in the mood to play with little John and I and there was one occasion that they got little John to gang up with them and attack me. I was not seriously hurt at all, but they squashed mulberries in my ears and sent me home crying, as the neighbours were very aware of the trouble I had with my ears, one of them had rung ahead to tell my mother that my ears were streaming with blood and that she had better be prepared to take me to the nearest hospital.
There was nothing wrong with me, but the sight of mulberry juice pouring out of my ears almost drove my mother hysterical. I was banned from playing with the d.P’s for three months.
Lots of Hugs and more,