Saturday, March 25, 2006

Remembering Neighbors - Dave W and the Fishing Line

Roll of 15 pound test fishing line - $4.00
Chrome-plated door knocker - $12.00
Interacting with crazed neighbors - PRICELESS
So would read the narrator of a certain credit card commercial should they do an ad based on this story...


Part of growing up in South Philly was having a penchant for mischief. It was a good way to pass the time, and fun - well, maybe for some of us, but definitely not for some of the neighbors.

Back when we grew up in the 70's, we used a certain creative flair to kill boredom that's not found with kids today. Today, everything's electronic this or mechanical that. With us, give us something as simple as fishing line and we were happy campers.

Tonight we remember a neighbor named Dave W. who was a good guy, but he had a major problem. That problem was that he lived almost directly across the street from our house - a home with two young, bored boys. Oh, and he had one of those heavy metal door knockers that made a loud bang when you knocked at the door. Logistics being what they were, it made him the perfect victim.

One evening, my brother and his friend Louie had told me they had this plan to have some fun with Dave. The plan was to take a roll of fishing line, tie it to his door knocker, run it behind the parked cars and knock on his door. So with a certain stealth, my brother and I hid behind the car while Louie ran up to the top of the step, tied the line to the door knocker, and ran to join us. "Knock, knock, knock", and in a few seconds, Dave was out the door looking for the phantom that he heard, but couldn't see. Shrugged, shoulders, door closed, oh well, no one's there. A few seconds later, "knock, knock, knock". Dave springs out the door, again, no one there. I can describe the situation on and on, but you get the picture. After a few times, Dave didn't go back to the sofa. He waited at the door, you could see the top of his head, eyes peering at the top of the door out the small glass window blocks. "Knock, knock, knock"...this time he's gotta have us. Dave springs like a tiger onto the top step, and no one's there.

This may be a somewhat boring story if it ended there. Since we were kids with nothing better to do, this went on for over 20-some evenings. Sometimes I participated, sometimes my brother and Louie had their own fun. Sometimes we hid behind the cars, other times we ran the line across the street and into the basement window. One can only imagine that Dave's sanity suffered tremendously. Alas, all good things must come to an end. And so after more than three weeks, another of our neighbors came walking down the street at the same time Dave came springing out the door after another round of knocking. She caught her neck in the fishing line, and caught Mark and Louie. I wasn't around that night. You could say that I caught a lucky break and didn't get grounded along with my brother. Then again, you could say I missed out. I didn't get to see Dave's reaction when he came storming across Chadwick street and screaming about his sanity.

When I got home that evening from whereever I was, my mom by then furious, said, "You'll never guess what your brother and that other no good did." I could have said, "I bet they took a roll of fishing line..." but I'm not that dumb. She went on to tell me the story, not amused at my laughter.

Dave's long gone, passing away in the early 1980s. Hopefully he forgave us that mental torture, but I know he couldn't have forgotten it. Hey, I didn't, and we're two decades removed from it. Kids today don't do these things. Parents, if your kids read this and do it, don't be too angry with them. Or with me for that matter, I'm only telling a true story. They're responsible for their actions. But if they do it and don't get shot by neighbors who are more likely to be armed with large-caliber weaponry (get the HINT kids?) , be glad they did something besides sit at the computer all day or play with their new Play Station XBox whatever electronic time waster. They interacted with a buddy and learned how to have fun. The folks from Hall Mercer Medical Center will be there shortly to help your neighbor with the admissions process.

AND YOU MAY REMEMBER...
Byberry State Hospital - The state run home for those who had psychological problems. The courts said that they couldn't keep the patients, and they're now on the streets of Center City. Or for those who have more well-rounded lives, you get to come home after your weeks visit to Hall Mercer.

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