Army Navy: At first I hadn’t paid much attention, as I began poking through our old photo albums from seven decades ago. A very odd thing surfaced when checking out our kids in uniform series, which were taken over a period of several years when we were very young. Danny, my ever present partner in crime, always appeared in a sailor uniform, and I was always suited up in Army garb. How strange that was because we were both to serve in the military, in those same service related uniforms. Danny joined the Navy after High School and I joined the Air Force. It was called the Army Air Corp during the Second World War, and afterwards, the service branches separated and the Air Corp became the US Air Force. I learned to fly and my good cousin Dan became sea sick I’m sure. He left the Navy after his enlistment was up and I hung around in the Air Force a bit longer, trying to get the hang of this flying gig.
During this kiddie in uniform era, Danny and I shared a baby bed in the attic of 5217 32nd Street. From the attic, in the early morning hours before the adults were up, we would creep down to the bottom of the stairwell and steal a banana or two. The bottom of the stairs, because it was cool there, was where potatoes, onions, bananas and such were stored. I say steal because we thought we were so clever to hide the peelings under the mattress. Like the parents wouldn’t notice, right?
There were some things we did in the attic that we got away with, or so we still believe. The house was heated by an oil stove located in a corner of the dining room below. There was a grate in the floor that allowed heat to gain access to our space in the attic above. What the parents never knew was, we would climb out of the baby bed and watch through the holes of the vent in the floor. And, we could see what was going on down there. It was especially handy, when on the night before Easter Sunday, we could watch our Easter Bunny’s hiding eggs. There were many things we saw and heard… it was a time before television stole a bit of our imaginations from us.
Then there were things we didn’t get away with. My Dad, was very proud of the paddle he had fashioned from a side piece of an orange crate. Remember orange crates? It was cut to just the right length, sanded smooth and painted a very bright red. A little hole was drilled at one end and then hung on the wall in the bathroom. It was a menacing sight to us and we were not very fond of the paddle looking down on us. An ever present threat, a reminder that good behavior was required… or else!
Well, we made a plan, or maybe I made a plan and Danny just followed along. That was how it usually worked. Keep in mind, I was a year older and poor Danny suffered doubly, both from his bad ideas and then again from mine. My plan was to flush the paddle down the toilet and you can just guess at how that went. Getting the paddle down off the hook was a struggle, then, placing the red, wooden, sanded smooth paddle into the toilet, only made it wet. The spanking with the wet paddle didn’t make it any more pleasant. Poor Danny!
If we had only realized back then that our parents were of the same age at some point in their lives, we shouldn’t have expected to get away with very much at all. They knew what we were thinking… mostly.