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Not quite a battle of wits

June 6, 2012 Leave a comment

I grew up in Spokane, Wash. in a neighborhood that gets made fun of all the time. Hillyard was the butt of many jokes. (In spite of this, I still love Spokane and miss living there.) I felt safe in my neighborhood even though there was crime going on around me. Really, looking back at my younger years, I only can remember one bad incident.

Behind our house, we had a garage. It wasn’t in very good shape and had lots of junk in it. There were two things I loved about the garage. First, a friend helped me build a basketball hoop to put on the back (thanks Dave!). I spent many hours shooting hoops on it, in the rain or shine. The second thing that I loved about the garage is that my dad didn’t use it and he let my brother and I play in it.

One summer we decided that we, along with some friends, would make it into our kind of clubhouse. We moved most of the junk into a small side room. We then cleaned up the main part and “fixed it up.” This consisted mostly of a few old posters, some old chairs, and a radio. We didn’t have many options on the radio. I had a small AM/FM headphone radio that I had received as a gift. I had some small speakers that I could hook up to it. So we put it in the garage and voila…music!

Would you believe that someone is selling on eBay the exact model of the radio I had? I couldn’t, but here it is!!!

One of the things we did in our garage was work on our bicycles. We would take them apart and put them back together and think we were fixing them. Some of the kids in our neighborhood would bring their bikes by and we would tinker around with them. It was fun and kept us out of any real trouble.

One morning I went in the garage and realized that something was missing…my radio. I cannot express the sadness that I felt. The realization that someone had taken it was so hard on me. I had never really had anything stolen from me and I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to tell my parents about it, since it was stupid of me to leave it in an unlocked garage overnight.

Later that day, I was talking to one of my friends and he told me that some kids about five blocks away had my radio and that they were trying to sell it. I didn’t know them, but my friend told me right where they lived. I decided to ride my bike over and see if I could get it back.

I am both proud and embarrassed at what I did next. I told them that I wanted to buy it, but I didn’t have any money with me (which was true). I said I would ride home and get the $5 that they wanted for the radio, but I wanted to take the radio with me. I don’t know why they agreed to this, but they did. I rode home as fast as my legs would take me. I looked over my shoulder plenty, but I wasn’t followed. Since I didn’t know these kids, and they didn’t know me, I felt that I was safe. I stole my radio back!

Now, I am not proud of the fact that I lied and stole, but I was very excited that I had found a way to get my radio back. It didn’t cost me anything. And I figured that they had stolen it from me, so I just took back what was rightfully mine. Disclaimer to my kids…it isn’t right to lie or steal, even if you get back something from the losers who stole from you.

I learned a few things that day. 1. Don’t leave anything you care about in an unlocked garage. 2. I am pretty good at bluffing people. 3. I can ride a bike pretty fast with proper motivation. 4. People will take your stuff, even if it isn’t worth much. (A side note…my 89 Honda Accord was stolen in 2011 and it wasn’t worth much when they took it and was worth much less when I got it back.)

And that is my life of crime when I stole back what was stolen from me. It wasn’t quite a battle of wits (like you can find in one of my favorite movies, The Princess Bride), but I felt that I outwitted them.

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Categories: About Me, Just for Fun, Spokane

Chasing down “The Germ”

August 11, 2011 2 comments

Ok, so my wife has been bugging me that I “abandoned” my blog and needed to post a new story. I guess that I haven’t been in much of a story telling mood lately, but I thought of a fun story from when I was in high school.

One Friday night, I was out with some friends.  As curfews were drawing close, I started driving a few friends home.  My best friend and I (I will call him G) dropped off a friend on the South Hill area of Spokane and then headed north to drop him off in Mead.

We pulled up to a stop light and looked over at the car next to us.  It was Mr. H, a teacher and the dean of students at our high school.  Mr. H had been our teacher, my basketball coach, and ASB (student government) advisor.  He also had lectured me a few times on my fast driving, and rightfully so.

Mr. H drove an old Honda Civic that he called “The Germ” and it was legendary at our school.  He would try to drive from basketball practice only using his brakes a certain number of times.  If he was running out of his allotted times to brake, he would even run into a snow drift to stop himself.

Mr. H’s Honda was this style, but dark green and wasn’t nearly as nice. It even had a metal hanger for an antenna.

We were actually surprised to see him out and about that late on the weekend and wondered what he was doing.  Mr. H looked at G and I and gave us a look like we had caught him doing something wrong.  The light turned green and he took a sharp turn and sped off.  G hollered “FOLLOW HIM” and I took off as fast as my trusty 74 Chevelle would go.

The next 15 minutes were some of the craziest driving that I have ever done, including driving in Paris and in Slovakia (more on that driving in a later post).  To my credit, I stayed with Mr. H in spite of the driving maneuvers that he tried.

Honest officer, I was only going one way…it just happened to be different than the arrow!

After the crazy chase, Mr. H turned down a residential side street and we thought that we had lost him.  We were sure he couldn’t have made it to the next intersection, so we slowly drove up the street.  Finally, we spotted The Germ parked in someones driveway.  G and I looked at each other and decided to slowly approach the car.  We didn’t see anyone until we got right up to the windows and there was Mr. H hunched over.

When he saw us, he jumped out and started laughing.  He didn’t give any explanation, but made us promise not to tell anyone what had taken place.  We agreed (which I guess I am now breaking that agreement) and headed back to my car.  I took G home and we were still a bit thrown off by what had taken place.  We figured that no one would probably believe us, so we didn’t really tell many people.

Someday, I will run into Mr. H and I am sure that we will have a great laugh about this memorable night of driving.

“My” Chevelle and the Impala.

June 10, 2011 2 comments

1974 Chevelle. Ours was burgundy with a black top, but still had the sweet rally sport wheels.

Ah…my Chevelle.  Now, I say that it is mine, but it was supposed to be a family car.  But as far as I was concerned, when I turned 16, it was mine.  I went to a small Christian school, and so our parking lot wasn’t real big.  So, I quickly claimed “my spot” right across from my two friends’ spots.  I loved this car and would wash it and dream of ways to fix it up to make it better.

I do have to tell you that I did everything in my power to keep my older sister from driving it (sorry, sis!).  One of my best tricks was whenever I knew she was going to drive it, I would run out to “my” car and disconnect the main wire on the distributor cap.  This would keep the car from starting.  It would sound like it should start, but it never would.  She would get mad and take our 1975 Impala and I would then get to take the Chevelle.  This worked well until my father, who was a mechanic, figured out what I was doing.  Then I would be in big trouble if I tried that.

Now, the Impala looked horrible.  I actually got into my first accident in the Impala.  It wasn’t my fault, and didn’t do much serious damage, but it did make the ugly brown car even uglier with dents all along one side.  The top had the vinyl covering that was a faded off-white and was flaking off.  This didn’t help the look of the car either.  But, this car could fly.  I could burn out (spinning the tires) with just a little power braking, (sorry Dad, I used up your tires)  and this was always a hit with my friends.

1975 Impala…Our was ugly brown and didn’t look this nice.

The Impala was easily the faster car between it and the Chevelle, even though they had the same size engine.  (I attribute this to the transmission in the Impala that was geared better.)  So, my choice of cars to drive depended on what I wanted to do, look cool (Chevelle) or go fast (Impala).  When I did drive the Impala, I would usually amaze people with how fast this big old boat really was.

Since I loved driving fast, my parents would let me go to the local drag racing strip and race there on some Friday nights in the summer.  Now, my dilemma was…do I want to look cool or go fast.  Well, since it was racing, I went with the Impala.  I took a bit of a hit driving that ugly boat with all of the other cool cars there, but in the end, it was so worth it.

Now picture the other drivers, that come with their very cool looking Novas, Camaros, Mustangs, and other sweet looking muscle cars.  And I roll up in my poop brown, dented up Impala.  I know that I heard some snickers and saw some people point.  But, like I said, that car was fast.  After I ended up beating them in a race, they weren’t laughing anymore!  I even made it to the semifinals one time, but I lost because I went too fast!

It was also fun, because many of the guys that my dad worked with had really awesome drag racing cars, and they were all there.  So I was able to hang around with them and their cool cars.  That helped a bunch.  Plus they would give me good pointers on how to race faster.  My parents would come out and watch me race.  I know that my mom didn’t really like the racing all that much, but I knew that she was up in the stands yelling as loud as she could for me to win.

Eventually, after I graduated from college, my dad sold both the Impala (someone bought it to take the engine and put it in another car for racing!) and the Chevelle.  I was sorry that these two cars had to go away.  Not as sorry as when my dad “sold” our Chevy Biscayne, but that is another story for another day.

The “Pond”

June 7, 2011 Leave a comment

One summer when I was a kid, my brother and I decided that we needed a pond.  I really don’t know what made us decide that we needed a pond, but it seemed like a great idea when we came up with it.  Our house was right next door to a vacant lot that we had to take care of, so it seemed okay with us to dig ourselves a pond.

We got a couple of shovels, went out to the middle of the weeds and started digging.  Now, in my mind, I had the idea of a huge pond with lots of fish, frogs, and lily pads…and maybe even a fountain or waterfall.

A beautiful pond in Duinrell, Netherlands

What we were digging in was really just a vacant lot…lots of weeds and rocks.  But that didn’t deter us.  We were young and had nothing else to do. So we dug like mad men…for about 15 minutes or so.  We didn’t have a very big hole yet, but we decided that we needed fill the pond and see what would happen.  Now, summer in Eastern Washington where we lived was hot.  And the ground hadn’t seen any type of water for awhile.

Well, needless to say (wait…that phrase means I don’t have to say it, but that wouldn’t make for a very good story, so I will say it anyway), the water didn’t form any kind of a pond at all.  In fact it didn’t even puddle a small bit.  It just ran down into the ground.  Hmm…what to do now.  Oh, let’s just dig it a bit bigger and that will help.  So, we dug it a bit bigger and then tried some more water.  Same result…big surprise, right?

That evening my father saw the “pond” and wondered why we were digging holes.  We told him of our plan and I am pretty sure that he thought that we were crazy.  He told us to quit wasting water.  We needed some sort of a liner to keep the water in the pond.  Some plastic would work.

Holes is a great movie!

The next day we found enough plastic and lined our pond with it.  Now, keep in mind that we didn’t have one big sheet of plastic, but about 4 sheets that we had to overlap.  We used some big rocks to hold them down.  And then we filled up our pond.  YES!  Success!  There was water staying in the pond.  We left the hose running and went off to ride our bikes.  We came back a bit later expecting to see our pond full and maybe even a bit of wildlife in it.  (I have no idea where wild frogs and such would come from, but I hoped anyway).  Sadly, our pond was only about as full as when we had left it.  Go figure that our patchwork plastic didn’t hold water.

That was enough of a disappointment for us to give up on our pond idea.  We put the hose away and went back to riding our bikes.  In our mind, the failed attempt was over and we moved on.  But, my dad didn’t think our project was finished.  He sent us back out there with our shovels to fill the hole that we dug.  It was sad for me to have to give up on my dream of my very own pond, but deep down, I felt relieved that our failure would be covered up.

Someday I hope to live in a house with a nice yard that will include not only a pond but a waterfall as well.

Categories: About Me, Spokane Tags: , , ,