This picture is not of our boys and their uncles, but it reminds me of some of their adventures and escapades. They were, in fact, uncommonly close like a band of brothers. They explored abandoned areas, on dares from neighbors, they walked on gutters across our roof, made their own backyard fires, and built forts in the woods, and so much more.
Our two sons, Bobby and Jeff, were born in 1966 and 1968. My two brothers were born in 1958 and 1963. When the boys were younger, my parents and brothers lived within two miles of us. My oldest brother Frank was just eight years older than my eldest son Bobby, and my youngest brother Johnny was just five years older than Jeff. Our three-generation family back then was “tightly knit”. We were together almost every day.
Even our gray and white husky, Pee Jay; enjoyed our family’s closeness to the extent that she didn’t want to be left home alone. These were the days before our home had air conditioning, and we opened our windows to cool the inside. Unfortunately, these were also the times when Pee Jay was most adventurous and didn’t want to be left home alone.
On many occasions, Pee Jay showed up at our children’s schools and veered in the open windows at them in their classrooms. The teachers’ ordered our son, Jeff, to take his dog home and to promptly return back to school. Other times, Pee Jay took off at bedtime to visit the grandparents. It was usually eleven o’clock at night and they were locking up to go to bed when Pee Jay appeared on their porch. They would call us and say, “Do you know where your dog is?” To ensure her safe return, we had to drive to their home to bring her back because to visit them she had crossed the highly trafficked Marlboro Pike. 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.
The rain was misting one morning when we were ready to leave for school and work. Pee Jay refused to come in and ran off. Sadly, that was the last time we ever saw her. Pee Jay was a great loss for our family.
There was also the time when my brother, Johnny, was riding a bike in our yard. Jeff thought it would be fun to spray him with water from a hose. As the water hit Johnny in his face, he lost control of the bike and went careening downhill towards the backyard. As luck would have it, Johnny and the bike collided with our then three-year-old daughter, Jennifer. As a result of this adventure, Jennifer’s collar bone was broken. She wore a movement-restricting clavicle brace for the next several weeks.
The boys also built a “fort,” at the end of my parents’ street, adjacent to the local shopping center’s back lot. At that time, they were looking for privacy so they could swoon over girlie magazines and smoke cigarettes to impress their companions. None of them realized how long they would remain addicted to smoking and the debilitating and fatal future health issues that would come from smoking.
As older teens, the boys gathered around bonfires with friends at Camp Plato. This activity became a regular weekend adventure. During these times they probably were experimenting with alcohol and pot. Yes, they were getting older, but not necessarily getting wiser, at least not then! 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 that helped him attract girls.
Eventually, they had fewer adventures together as they forged new relationships, started families and new jobs, and expanded their horizons. 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.