With a bright flash of sunlight the huge Cadillac Coupe Deville slowly crossed Beverley Road. It’s enormous chrome bumper just reflecting off the Kensington midday Sun. As it slowly lumbered up East 4th street we could hear the sound of its big block V8, just a low pitched “purr” as it rumbled closer towards the open mouth of my driveway.
“Ok, when I say three, just roll it down, and push it as hard as you can”. With my dirty little hand on the top of the worn out tire, I could feel the dryness of the treads. I stared at the yellowed white wall and wondered why it was never white. Awaiting my “orders” I stood there frozen holding on to the smelly old tire.
“Ok, Ronnie, One, Two, Three...NOW!
I pushed the tire as hard as I could; it started to wobble but then straightened out as it picked up speed. It made a strange “crackling” sound as it rolled, picking up little pebbles inside the dry rotted treads.
“Run, run, run”. My brother Joseph yelled frantically.
I quickly turned around and ran as fast as I could up my driveway towards the back of my house. A quick left and into my back yard and to our ultimate hiding place, the one-foot gap between the two garages in my back yard.
The loud skidding sound of the car sounded like some animal being slaughtered, its vibration could be felt in my teeth. It was quickly followed by the “thump” of the car hitting the tire.
With our little bodies squeezed hard between the rough cinderblock walls of the garages, my brother and I just looked at each other and started to giggle.
But then there was trouble, and we knew it might happen, the sound of a car door opening, followed by footsteps running up my driveway. We just held our breath, and froze between the damp walls of the garages.
“Come out you little bastards, I know your there”.
The footsteps were very close now, he was in our backyard.
“I’ll be looking for you kids, don’t think I wont get you”.
The footsteps started to disappear as he walked down my driveway and to his car. We heard the “chunk” sound of his door closing, followed by the sound of his car driving off.
“Good job Ronnie, good job” my brother Joseph whispered in my ear.
Now, we never ever saw one of our tires actually hitting a car, and could only envision what it must have looked like from the hollows between the garage walls. Because if we just stood there at the top of my driveway at 399 East 4th, and waited to see the “show”, well, that’s just “childhood” suicide. And we were too smart for that.
I still can’t understand how no one in my house ever noticed what we were doing. I knew my Mom was home along with other adults throughout the day. And my Grandfather Paco would have sent us back to Spain to have “Franco” do a number on us if he had seen what we were doing.
And yes, it got worse as we got older. We became more creative, and I picked up some cool sewing tips from my Mom when I assembled our six-foot “dummies”. Pushing them off the fender of a parked car and into the path of a speeding taxi or truck. Gee, no wonder why the girls on the block never looked at us.
And still no screams from the windows of my house.
But then there was the highlight of my career.
One time we were at a Halloween party at my friend Timmy’s apartment building on the corner of Albemare Road and East 5th street. It may have been about 1977. Once again another masterpiece of sewing and paper stuffing I dragged through the streets of Kensington under the cover of darkness. Some time during the party we decided to open the fifth floor window and place the dummy on the windowsill. Loud screams of “don’t jump Ronnie” were used to prompt about a hundred windows to open up from all the surrounding apartment buildings. With our audience in place and the theater fully seated, I heard the voice of my deceased brother in my ear. One, Two, Three…NOW.
The screams of all the people watching could probably be heard as far as the Wonder Wheel in Coney Island that night. The dummy just fell from the window like a lead balloon and snapped in two as it hit a tree below on the sidewalk. Again more screams form our apartment house audience as its head, body and torso all separated from each other.
“Good job Ronnie” is all I heard.
I remember trying to pick up a girl at the party that night, and guess what? She didn’t want to have anything to do with me. Oh gee, I wonder why?
So what do you say? "Boys will be Boys?” "Children must Play". I have to tell you no matter what your thinking the "Drug Dealers" never made a penny of the East 4th street boys. No, we had other things to do in Kensington, like roll tires, or sew a pair of Levis to a shirt.
And as far as dating or getting a girl in "trouble" over at Plum Beach at twelve midnight? no, I was painting a face on an old volley ball and getting ready to "duct tape" it to my new twin brother stuffed with yesterdays Daily News.
But God forbid I ever see my son out there at the top of my driveway with an old tire from our Nissan Quest. You know what I'll do. I'll just run out there as fast as I could and grab that tire, look at him square in the eyes and say...