To this day, my family teases me about my incredible memory of my early years growing up in The Rust Belt Suburbia of Youngstown. Don't ask me what I had for dinner last night, but I remember a rat running across Shady Run Rd. when I was 4 years old. My family uses this example to explain how incredibly weird I am when it comes to recollection.
I grew up in Struthers, a block from the high school, 3 blocks from the elementary school, and 6 blocks from two great city parks, Fifth St.and Yellow Creek. These areas were pretty much my boundaries as a pre-schooler. Can you imagine a little kid traveling that far today, let alone out of a parent's sight?
Both my parents worked. Mom, all day until 5 P.M. and Dad was gone from 7 P.M. until 4 A.M., often not waking until Noon. My two older sisters were either at school or with friends elsewhere. I was usually on my own most of the day. that's where boredom often over took me. As a pre-schooler, 1 or 2 years difference is quite a deal. Younger kids' moms didn't want a corrupt 5 year old playing with Precious and older kids didn't want a Brat hangin' with them.
As a 5 year old, I went into The Bank one day with my Dad. Must have been pay day at the Steel Mills, the lines snaked to the door. Pop grabbed me by the shoulder and stood me in front of a support pillar saying his famous line,"Move and you're Dead." I dutifully stood at rapt attention, looking straight ahead. After a few minutes, a man walked by, stopped in front of me and said," You Poor Boy, how sad that you're Blind at such a young age." He then pressed a dime into my hand and left. Apparently, he mistook my staring off into space day dreaming as someone who was blind and not focusing on anything! Eureka! I think I was on to something! Money!
I couldn't wait to get home! I immediately ran next door to 4 year old Mary's house. I about dragged her down the street telling her what happened at the bank and how we can make a lot of money. All she had to do was act as my guide person and we would go door-to-door asking for money for me, since I was Blind. Brillant, eh? Of course, I promised Mary a 50/50 split.(yeah, right.)
We put our plan into action a few blocks away. Even a 5 year old knows you don't pull off a scam in your own neighborhood! We went to the first two or three houses and pulled it off without a hitch! Woo hoo! Money for penny candy and Freeze Pops at Papalia's Corner Grocery! Then the Jig was up. At about our fifth house, a lady said she was sorry she didn't have any money, but she would ask her Son for some change. As luck would have it, her Son was a classmate of my Sister. "I know him, Mom. He's not Blind!", he said upon coming to the door. That's all I needed to hear. I was yanking on Mary's arm as we High- Tailed it down the street to the safety of our neighborhood. My Crime Spree was over and I prayed I'd never do something like that again if my parents didn't find out. They never knew and I lead my life 'On the Straight and Narrow".