Even more Neighborhood
Even more Neighborhood
With Buttons and Bows
As time moved along, now shortly after the war ended (summer of ’45), to when we moved away from my 32nd Street neighborhood, in late 1950, I am left with vivid memories of solitary events and the kids that perpetuated them. Some were painful, and some not so. For example; my friend Bobby Baloon. I had great sympathy for Bobby, who lived just two doors down, not just because of his unusual name but because he lived with his grandparents and Uncle Frank. I never met Bobbie’s actual parents. In that regard we had a lot in common but we just weren’t aware of it. Bobbie did things that brought him a lot of attention, like he wasn’t particularly kind to animals. Most of those details I don’t care to relate. One day a group of us were playing outside a heating store across the street, where we found an open grate used by suppliers that allowed truck deliveries to their basement level. Three or four of us climbed down to inspect… then, after we are in the pit, Bobby yells “someone’s coming!” We begin the scramble to get out and I end up being the last. I grabbed hold of the iron grates lock plate and with my feet half way up the inner wall, just as I was set to haul myself up… Bobby slams the grate down onto my left hand, which is now caught in the locking mechanism and I am still in the pit. I learned then and there all about severe pain. The skin on all four of my fingers was peeled back to the bone from knuckle to knuckle. Now, if you can imagine this, and I know you’re thinking about it… the grate needs to be reopened to let me loose. I was allowed to re-live the experience. I keep the scars.
Now for some nice memories: There was a song written in the late 1940’s that won an academy award for best new song. The song was written in 1947 and won the award in 1948. The title was “Buttons and Bows”. Well, there was this little blonde girl that moved onto my street that year. Her name was Gloria Sykes. She had a younger sister named Dorothy. Gloria wore her hair in long pigtails and she was the prettiest girl I had ever seen. She was beautiful, a bit strong minded, but beautiful just the same. Little boys weren’t supposed to think girls were anything but icky and you were supposed to avoid them at all costs or suffer the pain of your peer’s displeasure. It turns out Gloria was a very talented singer. One day, in class, she got up and sang that most popular song of the day, “Buttons and Bows.” Dinah Shore had been singing it on the radio and it was the number one song on the charts. It was a magnificent performance and my heart was a flutter.
We enjoyed each others company although Gloria could be very bossy. I recall us often roller skating at night, under the street light down near her house. I was always fascinated by her talents. The Sykes family only lived on the street for a little over a year. But before they moved away, Gloria and I had been invited to Bobby Foreman’s Birthday party. Toward the end of the party a game of spin the bottle was introduced and when it was her turn she chose me to kiss. It doesn’t get better than that, having a girl choose to kiss you, at the age of 8.
I didn’t know the Sykes family had intentions of moving until, one day, they just disappeared. I was sorry that Gloria didn’t return to Sill School the next year. I’d spent most of that summer down on the farm for our annual pilgrimage to Indiana.
A couple of years later, after my Grandma Hart died in November of 1950, we moved to Dearborn Township. In January of 1951, I entered the 4th grade class at Edsel B. Ford Elementary School, taught by Mrs. Knuth, and there sitting front row center, where you would expect her to be, sat Gloria Sykes with her big bright eyes and blonde pigtails. I wondered if anyone knew she could really sing.