TEEN-AGE MEMORIES   Leave a comment

Is it just me, or do all of our teenage experiences become indelible memories..?

For example, when I was 15, I was booted out of the two month summer Air Cadet training program.  Apparently I was somewhat of a distraction for the  more disciplined youth – like climbing into the cockpit and demonstrating a pilot of the F-86 jet that was on display inside the training school, i.e. strictly a ‘no-no’ activity!

Those of us who had previously been qualified for the Military Intelligence course were advised that it had been scrapped, owing to a recent U.S.-Canadian agreement for military intelligence.  (In other words the U.S. was taking over Canadian military intelligence, so what else is new for Canada.. eh!?) As a consequence we were offered the ‘secretarial’ course, which was of little interest to me!

In any case, after several incidents of a similar undisciplined nature, the CO went completely ballistic in a private hearing, actually shouting at me like a deranged psychopath, and cancelled my summer program agreement.  But that was not before I had organized a car-financing program with some new friends.

With willing contributions from their  Air Cadet wages I was enabled to purchase a car that I had my eye on, and in return I would provide their daily transportation home.  That would save them the hassle of various bus rides from the base back to the ‘burbs’.

Actually the black ‘38 Ford 4-door was my second car even though I was not yet old enough to hold a driver’s license.  It was partly customized with a dropped front axle, the cool ‘daigo’ look of the 1950’s.

So each afternoon I waited for the submissive marching Cadets to arrive at the main gate.  Their regular non-coms had to compete with throaty dual- exhaust from a flathead V-8 engine revving plus loud radio playing.  I thereby fulfilled my verbal agreement to pick-up those who had financially contributed to my car purchase and trasport them home.

That was all well and good, however, there was this little certain, shall we say, traumatic teenage incident that followed…

It all started innocently at a friends home.  His single-parent mother had gone off with her boyfriend for a weekend.  So of course we took advantage by having a kind-of stag party.

A half-dozen of us youths, mostly friends from the Air Cadets, got together listening to music and drinking a few beers.

It was when we decided to pile into the Ford and go to a popular Broadway Street hamburger drive-in joint that that summer  developed into a much more serious situation.

On our way to the hamburger joint we drove past a so-called Youth “Reformatory” home.  Clearly visible from the street were several girls sitting on window sills, in various states of dress, three stories up.  Our youthful male interest was immediately peaked, as was no doubt intended by those females.

After consuming legendary hamburgers at Big Als(?) on Broadway, we drove back along the same route.  It was getting dark, and conversation again turned to the girls we had noticed in the Reformatory windows, which someone suggested we check out.  Impulsively I turned into an unpaved alleyway that ran alongside the well-fenced facility.

There were residential houses on one side of the lane, and a wire link fence on the other side.  It was a very dry summer, and the Ford kicked up clouds of dust in the lane.

Pulling into the rear parking area of a darkened house, headlights off, we quietly exited the car and jokingly climbed over the six foot wire fence in order to approach that foreboding youth detention building.

Sure enough, a couple of the girls were still at the open windows three stories up,  and they quickly detected our presence, so hushed communications began.

We asked some innocent questions like ‘what are you in for?’, ‘how long are you here for?’, and ‘how do they treat you?’

We could tell those girls were probably starved for affection and attention, but were far more worldly than us.  They seemed pleased to have our attention even if just for the moment, asking us for cig’s.

Some of the boys had them, and the girls lowered nearly invisible sewing thread in order to collect them.

Of course it wasn’t long before the resident caretakers were alerted to our presence.  The girls warned us, but out of bravado, and because we didn’t feel we were doing anything seriously unlawful, we didn’t heed their warning in time.

In a flash, no less than two police cars came roaring into the front driveway heading straight for us.

It was everyone for himself.  We ran like frightened deer around the side of the building into a large, unused, overgrown field at the rear of the building.  My green slip-on hush puppy type shoes flew off, and I did a complete summersault, but without even stopping I retrieved my shoes and ran into the tall grass with the rest.

No doubt the police now believed they were thwarting a planned prison-escape.  With military-like precision they began circling the entire acreage behind that archaic detention facility.  It was a pitch black moonless night.

As we spread out and separated in that field I went down and crawled on my belly back towards my car.  Police on foot swept the field with their flashlights, but I made it to the fence we had scaled earlier in order to get back to my car without being detected.  On the way one cop passed right by me within a few feet as I laid very still hiding in the grass.

Adrenalin was really pumping when I got to the fence and climbed over it to the lane. My first thought was to wait and see if others would make it there also.  But there was no sign of them, and police cars were circling the whole area with flashlights in an organized search pattern.

I thought if I could circle around the field I might be able to pick up any who were able to reach the streets.  So I started the car, lights out, and backed into the single lane dirt alley.

Just at that moment I could see a police cruiser turn into the alley in my rear-view mirror, so I panicked and floored the accelerator!

Spinning rear wheels created a huge cloud of  thick dust.  I could barely see the headlights of the now accelerating police car behind me!

Reaching the end of the alley there was a sharp right turn before coming out to a paved side street.  As I turned onto the street, I could see the chasing police car behind me in my rear-view had not been able to see the turn, going straight off into a grassy boulevard!

My heart was beating faster than the V-8 motor was turning.  I shot down the side-street towards the back of the detention grounds intent on making a quick turn, but before I reached the corner two police cars blocked my path.

Meekly I backed up and parked at the side of the road just as the chasing patrol car also arrived and awaited my fate.  Burly policemen quickly approached, forcing me ‘spread-eagle’ on the hood.  I only asked if I could retrieve my once-again lost shoe first, then was firmly placed in the back of a police cruiser.

An officer was assigned to sit in the back seat with me, in those days cruisers were not equipped like animal-like cages as they are today.

As I contemplated my fate I could hear police radio’s reporting they had picked up several others as they attempted to exit the detention grounds.  But the real shocker was yet to come.

As I sat in the police cruiser wondering what could possibly be worse than this, I noticed something very familiar about the constable that was sitting next to me.  It was my brother-in-law Bill Donald!

He didn’t recognize me at all until I called him by name, and he was just as shocked as I was.  After I quickly tried to explain how this whole disastrous incident had come about, he took it upon himself to appeal to the on-site Sergeant.

The next thing I knew, most of us so-called ‘prison break’ perpetrators were facing tough police questioning at the downtown Vancouver police station.

After interrogating us, they apparently were persuaded we were no more than foolish lads with excess curiosity more than guile.

We were released without charges, but not without some ‘very’ poignant memories, and, perhaps a healthier attitude towards law and order.

At least in those days ‘discretion’ was still an option for genuine ‘peace officers’.

p.s. if any ‘reformatory’ experienced girls read this blog and would like to comment it would be appreciated..?

– end –

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Posted November 3, 2010 by New2view in existential, historical, humanity, life, philosophy

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