The picture shown here is not that of our boys and their uncles, but it reminds me of some of their adventures and escapades.
You see, our two sons, Bobby and Jeff were born in 1966 and 1968. My brother, Frank, the eldest uncle was born in 1958 and my younger brother Johnny was born in 1963. My parents and my brothers lived just two miles away from us for most of the boys early lives through their teen years. Indeed. my oldest brother Frank was only 8 years older than our eldest son Bobby and my younger brother Johnny just five years older than our youngest son Jeff. Back then, our family of three generations, to say the very least, was “tightly knitted”. We enjoyed being together on most days.
Even our gray and white husky, Pee Jay, enjoyed the togetherness of our extended family to the extent that she showed up at our children’s schools and veered in the open windows at them. Or, she sometimes took off to visit the grandparents before going to bed. Which meant to ensure her safety, we had to drive to their home to bring her back because she had crossed the highly trafficked Marlboro Pike to visit them.
These were the days before our home was air conditioned and we left our windows open to cool the inside and to let in the fresh air. Unfortunately, those were the times when Pee Jay was most adventurous, too, and didn’t want to be left home alone. I can’t tell you how many times we had to repair or replace the screens in our windows because Pee Jay wanted to be out and about with others. One morning when we were ready to leave for school and work and the rain was misting, Pee Jay refused to come in and ran off. Regrettably, that was the last time we ever saw her. Pee Jay was a great loss for our family.
Never the less, our sons and their uncles (with our without Pee Jay accompanying them), were attached at their hips. Any of them can tell you most everything you ever wanted to know about the cities of District Heights and Forestville, Maryland–and even beyond. District Heights and Forestville were their haunting and hunting grounds. They built bicycle ramps by our home, by my parents’ home and even around Camp Plato–one of their favorite hang out spots for years. I even recall Jeff’s story about doing battle with a tree on his bike there. Hence the bruises on his head that he could not explain away. In truth, Jeff was riding a motorcycle at Camp Plato when he lost control of it and hit into that poor innocent tree!
Then there was the time when my brother, Johnny, was riding a bike in our yard in District Heights. Jeff decided to spray him with water from a hose when Johnny was careening downhill towards the backyard. As luck would have it, Johnny and the bike collided with our then three-year-old daughter, Jennifer. This adventure resulted in Jennifer’s collar bone being broken and required a brace for the next few weeks.
The boys also built a “fort,” at the end of Berkshire’s Kenova Street where the Greater Eastern Plaza Shopping Center adjoined it. By then, they were looking for privacy to swoon over girlie magazines and impress their companions by smoking cigarettes. (Little did they know how many years they would be addicted to smoking and the associated health issues that accompany it.)
As older teens, the boys gathered around bonfires with friends again at Camp Plata in Forestville. This activity became a regular weekend adventure. These times they probably were experimenting with alcohol and pot. Yes, they were getting older, but not necessarily getting wiser, at least not yet! And, Frank, had advanced beyond bicycles. He was now driving his first car given to him by our dad. It was a sporty and hot looking 1967 green Buick Skylark.
New relationships, new families, new jobs, and ever-expanding horizons, among the guys eventually led to less adventures together. Although my parents and oldest brother, Frank, are no longer here on earth with us, I will remain forever-happy each time I remember those stories of their adventures that they shared with us.