Jerry's View: The second bestest kid on Vancouver Avenue
Have you ever flung a snowball at car on the road? Did you sneak some apples off your neighbor’s tree? Did you tear your best pants and lie to your mother about how it happened? You are not alone. As the bestest boy on N. Simpson St. I did those things and more. I hope pastor Nankavel up in heaven forgives me. I was just a kid.
So was my brother Russell only he was NOT the bestest kid. He had good intentions but much of what Russell got into resulted in damage to something or a fight down the street. Russell didn’t take no guff!
As kids, we liked to tempt fate but Russell was just better at it. He saw a magazine about some Aborigine people in Australia that made boomerangs to hunt birds in the air. Russell challenged himself to build his own.
He found an old wood crate down by the rail yards. He brought it home where he removed a slat to begin carving it into the shape of a boomerang. It was beautiful. But could it fly and could it fly back to him, which is the whole idea if you miss your target?
It was winter time so finding birds was difficult. Russell was itching to give the thing a try. He’d spent hours shaping, sanding and preparing it for its first flight. It was a thing of beauty with that slender banana curve and those beveled edges. He named it after the Aboriginal origin. “Abby”
Outside, just under the tree line looking down the macadam road, Russell gave Abby a toss. I was there with my pal John Prentice*. We watched anxiously as it twirled and flew 40 ft or more in a smooth glide before turning slightly left and right down Vancouver Avenue.
Unfortunately Dazy's Laundry truck was heading directly into the path of Abby’s maiden voyage. Kerplunk!, it went through the plate glass windshield of the truck.
Everyone turned and ran for the bushes which was the accepted protocol of youth. Russell didn’t run. He went over to the truck which had stopped abruptly.
The driver was sitting with a lap full of shredded glass. There was a brief discussion.
Russ never backed down from a fight or responsibility. He apologized to the laundry truck driver who offered him a job to work off the cost of replacing the windshield. Russell gladly accepted since he only had a nickel in his pants. Maybe Russell was the second bestest kid on Vancouver Avenue.
The boomerang only had one flight as it cracked on impact and was never flown again.
After all it was meant for Teal Ducks not wheeled trucks.
* This is a true story. John Prentice, today a neighborhood buddy again, lives in Shorewood. He was witness with a great memory.