WYHS & Whitehall Memories…

For all my Whitehall friends:
The Center of the Universe, By Kevin Hall, 1972

It is midsummer, the early morning hours, just after the sun comes up and creates that orange glow on the lawns in front of the houses on my street.  At this moment, all is right with my world.  Before everybody else wakes up and begins to intrude, the curb out in front of 4090 Beechbank becomes an altar, in a place called Whitehall, on the east end of a city called Columbus, located almost smack dab in the middle of the state of Ohio, and to my way of thinking, somewhere near the center of the universe.

I am king of the world (long before the movie, “Titanic”), and the curb is my throne.  I’m a pirate and the curb is my ship.  It’s a spiritual place and I am a holy man.  Can you hear God speaking, as we sit and contemplate all the important questions in life?  Did Paul Hornung really make bets against his own team?  Why does Johnny Unitas wear high top shoes, when nobody else does these days?  Why in the world would anybody shoot the president, and most important, did Chuck Nunemaker really kiss Bitty Cunningham on the lips?

The robins have come out for breakfast.  It’s so quiet, I can almost hear the grass swoosh under their feet as they hop from one worm feast to another.

I’ll have to find some chalk today and darken that hopscotch before it’s completely washed away by the rain and the cars that pass here during the day.  Last time, I touched it up with a piece of sheetrock I found lying right here by the curb.

I’m sitting with my butt up on the curb and my feet out in the street.  One time I turned around and put my butt down on the street, and my feet up on the curb, but it just didn’t feel right.  

I wear Red Ball Jets.  They’re the best tennis shoes because, as their advertisement says, they make you run faster and jump higher.  I tested them out, and it’s true.  As I look down at them and  the bony ten year old extremities attached, I wonder if I’ll have hair on my legs like my older brother and if so, when. In my musings, I speak to God and ask one more thing that I have been wondering about, “why?”

I catch the faint smell of bacon, and that usually means that Mrs. Hardin is fixing breakfast.  Her son Melvin is my best friend.  Sometimes it’s Pauly Nunemaker, sometimes Mike Millay, and yesterday it was Ray McKee, but, when the smell of bacon frying wafts its way through the neighborhood, coming directly from the direction of the Hardin’s house, it’s Melvin. I meander my way across the street and think to myself, “Maybe Mrs. Harden will ask me to come in and wait for Melvin while he eats breakfast and if she does, maybe she will ask me to eat with them.”  I put on my best starving, street urchin act.  However, it doesn’t work very well with Mrs. Hardin, a worldly woman, too wise to fall for that.

As I cross the street to go up Melvin’s driveway, I hear the screeching sound of truck brakes.  I look down the street to see the first sighting of human existence, the milkman, his truck laboring to stop that load of milk, butter, cheese and eggs.  From where I stand, I can see he moves like a man on a mission.  Even from this distance, there’s no mistaking the tinkling sound of the glass milk bottles he carries in his special milk bottle carrier.  I don’t know why, but, I like that sound.

“What are you up to today?”  Melvin’s mom calls.  I turn toward the sound and catch the faint image of her through the screen door and answer, “nuthin.”  “Would you like to come in and wait for Melvin,” she asks.  I don’t want to sound too eager, so, a half-hearted, “I guess so,” is my response as I make my way through the kitchen to the table where Melvin, his brother and two sisters have already started to eat.

Yep, for this moment anyway, all is right in my world, the center of the universe.