Since I was rather serious in my last posting, one I usually save for my www.blessingsinpain.com for certain moments, I thought I would go ahead with a lighthearted story from the family time in the Bronx, NYC. This happened around 1958, before my parents were married, and in those days, that meant my mom was still living with her folks, oh, and she wasn't my mom yet!
One of the great things about the Big Apple, is that within its Burroughs, each one has its own different smaller neighborhoods that contains a few blocks around. You may have heard of some of these, Little Italy, Hell's Kitchen, Harlem, Chinatown, and Washington Heights to name a few. Not all have names, they just are what they are. We lived in Kingsbridge, but that actually covers a lot of ground in the Bronx. Still and all, within our neighborhoods, it was like its own little village, and everyone knew what was going on with whom. Come to think of it, it's almost like a middle school with all ages and streets. When you would call for someone, you literally called for them. You'd walk to under their window and yell up, "Hey, Joey! Yous cumin out?" So maybe this is why secrets were never all too secret for very long.
OK, so that is how it was, and in some cases, still is. Be that as it may, there was a little guy that almost always seemed to get himself into trouble. No matter what, if trouble was to be had, there you'd find Billy (names have been changed to protect my failing memory). My grandfather, having a similar boyhood, was a sucker for the under-dog. Well, one day it came to my grandpa's knowledge that old lady McGuffey (again, who cares about her name, she was a nasty old Irish woman, better I don't remember her name) claimed that Billy broke her window by throwing a piece of hard candy at it. Certain facts were undeniable, the old lady's window was broken, she lived on the second floor, and a piece of hard candy (butterscotch) was on the floor, and it was trouble-so that meant Billy.
Hearing about this at the watering hole on his way in from the docks, (translation: he went to the local pub after his shift as a longshoreman), my grandpa couldn't believe Billy did it. I mean, how could this kid, not all that big, throw a piece of candy through a window? No one even saw him out on the street. Well, this bothered him all the way back to the apartment, and during dinner. He talked about this with his wife and two daughters, the daughters agreeing readily with their dad, never a day they wouldn't. After dinner, the youngest girl left, and my grandpa and grandma shared a glass of beer while my mom cleaned up from dinner. "I'm tellin' you, you can't throw a piece of candy through a glass window," says he. Up from the table he got and went into the living room and over to the candy dish. Taking a piece of butterscotch candy, he returned to the kitchen. "Tootsie, (my mom's nickname, and I am now out of the will) hold that curtain to the side."
As the dutiful daughter, my mom dried her hands, walked over to the kitchen window and pulled the curtain to the side. Himself stood all the way across the kitchen, wound up and let it rip like Whitey Ford. Sure enough, right through the window the candy went, out into the street, and six floors below. "Well I'll be damned" he says. "Silly ass" is all herself had to say as she lifted her glass of beer to her lips. As my grandma drank only one beer an evening, this was probably one night she thought about having another. My mother, being daddy's girl, could do nothing but hold the curtain with one hand, and her mouth with the other.
As he went about covering and taping the window for the night, before having to go to the super the next day, he still couldn't believe the candy broke the window. Granted he was a bull of a man, but Billy was still a kid, and was probably across the street, since no one had seen him out. How could this young kid possibly throw a candy that hard, and if he had, sign him up with the Yankees.
The next day at the docks, as they were talking about the candy throw, it came to be known by Billy's downstairs neighbor, that young Billy had used a slingshot he got, and did it from his bedroom window. So, if you ever wonder if a hard candy can break a window, remember two things: Either get yourself a longshoreman at somewhat close range, or get any little bugger with a slingshot. It worked for David too, come to think of it!