Monday, November 18, 2013

Turkey Bowl Weapon

Microsoft Word Illustration
by Robert Giles

I remember the day Roy Schwartz moved into our neighborhood. He smiled at us from the back window of his dad’s car, his nose pressed against the glass. His face was red and freckled.

That first afternoon, we invited Roy to play German ball. We gave him the honor of the first at bat. Roy hit a wicked liner so hard it knocked down one of the overhead wires that crossed the street. We scattered in all directions but in fact, there was no danger of electrocution. It was a telephone wire.

Mrs. Sedakis borrowed her neighbor's phone to call the police. A patrolman arrived and put up a road block. In the meantime, someone with more sense called Bell Telephone. A truck arrived and a lineman reattached the wire to the house where it had been knocked loose.

Mrs. Sedakis wanted to put us in Allencrest for knocking her phone out of service, but the police chief ruled it an accident and assured her that she wouldn't get a bill. The lineman concurred. I guess Bell Telephone had so much money it couldn't be bothered.

We reconvened in the Schwartz’s backyard. Roy's mom made us a pitcher of Kool-Aid. We raised a cup to our new friend.

Roy Schwartz was a large boy for his age. He was not only big; he was mature in other ways too. Roy started shaving when he was thirteen and began to develop male pattern baldness at sixteen. I wish I could say that he was a well-rounded person, but Roy had difficulty in school.

What an addition to the neighborhood he was - someone big and strong, yet pliant and eager to please.

We realized right away that Roy gave us a powerful weapon against the “top of the hill” in the annual Thanksgiving Turkey Bowl.

Roy had inherited one of those old-fashioned leather football helmets that fit snug to the head. Unlike the fiberglass ones that made heads appear larger, it seemed to make Roy's head shrink.
Still, Roy cut an impressive figure on the gridiron - heavy shoes, cotton pants, and sleeveless shirt, a giant's body and a small head. 

He reminded us of those rams the medieval armies employed to batter down the castle gates.

Roy was not a fast runner but once he got going, he was relentless. The only way our opponents could stop him was to gang tackle him at the line of scrimmage.

That first year we trounced the “top of the hill” team so badly that the next year they recruited a quarterback from the second-team at Geneva College. The outcome of that game is still under protest.

We weren't creative enough to nickname Roy “The Bus”. We settled on “The Horse”.

He tolerated the nickname as long as it was pronounced with the right inflection. If he detected so much as a hint of ridicule, you were “in for it”. One day Roy grabbed a baseball bat and chased Jimmy Dinnerlein all over Byers' Field. It was a good thing for Jimmy that he was fleet-footed. He could never manage to convey the proper respect when he addressed Roy as “Horse”.

One day Roy bet my brother that he could drink two gallons of water in one sitting. 

Later we found out that drinking too much water too quickly can upset the body’s electrolyte balance and lead to death. We had no knowledge of this when Roy offered his wager. We thought the worst that could happen was that Roy would get a stomach ache and possibly throw up. 

We had two one-gallon jugs from Isaly’s. We kept one in reserve until Roy drained the first, then we handed him the second one.

Roy swallowed the second gallon and won the bet. Roy didn’t get sick or throw up or go into a coma and die. He belched loudly once and had to make a lengthy visit to the bathroom.

Another time we went over to Roy’s house after school to watch television. Roy reached in his pants pocket and couldn’t find his key. His mom was visiting out-of-town. Roy’s dad worked at Westinghouse and didn’t get home until later.

We were locked out. What to do? Roy had a good idea. Why not break in?

Roy pointed to his bedroom window. He could pry it open with his pocket knife, but first we had to boost him onto one of the shutters alongside the lower level window. From there he could clamber onto the roof and jimmy the window. Once he got the window open, it would be a simple matter to climb inside and unlock the door.

We boosted with all our might. Roy was a heavy lift. Finally, he gained a toehold on top of the shutter and grasped the rain gutter for support.

Roy straightened up and put his full weight on the shutter. He reached toward the roof, pocket knife in hand. Suddenly the shutter pulled away beneath him. He grabbed the gutter with his free hand but that gave way too.

Everything crashed onto the porch, the shutter, Roy, the rain gutter, and the break-in tool. All in that order.

The front door of the Schwartz house swung wide. Minutes before, Mr. Schwartz had pulled into the back drive, entered through the garage door, and hurried to investigate the commotion on the front porch. 

Roy’s dad looked like one of those Viking warriors who go berserk. He took Roy by the ear and pulled him into the house. We decided to quietly leave.

For a couple of days, we didn’t see Roy at all. Then we learned through the grapevine that he wasn't allowed to pal with us any more. We were “bad influences”.

Wasn't it Roy's idea to break into the house? Why couldn't Mr. Schwartz use the front door instead of sneaking through the back? Why did they put the blame on us?

It was a good thing that parents never remember anything for longer than a week.Time would heal this breach. 

We laid low. On the eighth day, the heat was off. Roy “The Horse” Schwartz was loose again. 

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