Thursday, April 3, 2008

Once upon a time,

There was a gang in my neighborhood, two boys and a wild young girl, they ruled our street and made life rough in the bedroom community. They threw the fallen apples at each other and didn't care that they bounced onto the golf course green-like lawn of the family across the street. That family was upset and wanted the sherriff deputy from down the street to do something about it, and he just wanted to come home and sleep - he worked with real criminals all day. I thought the family was a bit extreme for both being school teachers but maybe they had enough tiny terrors in their lives, too. Well, I went out and met the hooligans one day and took some grocery bags and suggested, like it was a game, that they pick up all the busted and tossed apples from the yards where they had thrown them. They did, and the street was cleaner and they could ride their wheels up and down again. I suspected the two boys were foster care, they had lots of toys to play with and little adult supervision, the girl was from "renters", probably subsidized by the state. Not bad kids but looking for adventure and some guidance. They asked me to play catch, and I noticed that Brady (the only name I ever got for any of them) never had shoes that fit, or half the time he had them on the wrong feet. I worked with him on that. He would go back home and get different shoes and on the right feet. We would play catch with a Nerf football or tennis balls. He would knock on my door and ask if I would play, and I would go out and play catch for awhile until he and his brother would be called to supper.

They all moved away, about six months later, that is what happens to the renters' homes and families. More children have come and gone, but they aren't worrying the streets, they are safe in their television or video game world. The apples fall from the tree and no one throws them around anymore, and there aren't big battery powered toy cars parked just off the street where the gang of three left them.

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