One Saturday morning Dad surprised me by taking me to a police auction and allowed me to pick out a bicycle. The first thing I did when I got home was take the fenders off to give it a more macho look. That bike was my source of transportation. I would ride up to three miles in any direction roaming the neighborhood. By next Christmas the girls got three brand new bicycles. It seems like all the other children in the neighborhood got bikes that same year for Christmas. Imagine approximately fifteen children riding around the block over and over again. We soon got the attention of the young men trying to play soccer in the street; we were interrupting their game. They banned us from riding down Marc street. Some were verbally abusive but they were always aware of the invisible line they should not be crossed. Some of them smoked weed and were conscious of the fact that my father was a police officer. Scrunty who was always the diplomat, explained to us that we were interrupting their game, and asked us to ride on the other streets which we agreed. There was a mutual understanding that we would pass on Marc Street only if it was absolutely necessary. Eventually I found myself stopping by to watching the guys play. When I think of it, they are always playing soccer, on Marc Street, in front of Lou’s grocery on the main road, on Montrose street, almost everywhere.
I was introduced to gardening at an early age. I was given the task of planting pigeon peas, corn and other vegetables in our back yard during Corpus Christi. The pigeon peas were my responsibility. I dug my rows all the way down to the ravine. Every day we checked to see if my crop started to grow. I was vigilant with molding, watering and pulling up weeds. I didn’t want anything to spoil my first crop. It took a while but eventually it was time to harvest. It was a good crop and I was proud of my accomplishment. Dad made sure I understood the importance of giving so we packed a few bags to give the neighbors. Mom cooked pelau the same evening and stewed peas on Sunday. I felt for the first time like I’ve made a valuable contribution to the home. The whole experience is a valuable lesson in life; You can reap only what you sowed. It took time, effort, and dedication before I could enjoy the fruits of my labor. The crop had a process to go through before I could reap the benefits. I couldn’t see the results of my labor as I toiled, but I knew it would have rewards in the future. So the lesson is to keep toiling as long as it takes.
I was elevated to being a big brother on December 23rd 1961. That means I had to move out of the crib to make room when my baby sister’s arrival. I no longer had to plot attempts to escape my prison bars that confined me. It wasn’t a moment too soon because unknown to my mother, I had just mastered enough skills to climb to the top of the rails but could not figure out how to stick the landing. Needless to say I was happy to move. It was time to explore the mysteries of the floor. I was upgraded to a military type fold up cot with a green canvas mat. Mom would pad it with thick blankets that came from Police issued supplies. It wasn’t long before there was another baby in the crib. Heather arrived on February 4th 1963. It was Cheryl’s turn to become a big sister. She was forced to move in with me on the cot. Many mornings we woke up wet from pee. Sometimes hers other times mine, most nights it was a urine cocktail. We eventually got separate beds.