By runaway Emmet
It is time. The Super Bowl is upon us and the Patriots are not even in it.
That means only one thing. It is time to pack for the annual trip to Florida and spring training baseball, a tradition established in 1993 when the Red Sox moved to Fort Myers and I had my annual Cabin-Fever-Nervous-Breakdown.
As I think about packing (five t-shirts, five shorts, five undershorts, five pairs of sox) what is left of the memory goes back to my first road trip, when David Walsh stole a brand new dump truck and ran away from home.
The tale is that David, tough as nails, had a bare knuckle brawl with his (even tougher) father, back before that sort of thing became illegal. David was knocked unconscious, but not for long. When he awoke, he made his plans. He broke into his father’s construction business and stole a brand new Ford dump truck by smashing through the locked gate, like in the movies.
The center of the universe in those days was the Holy Name dance on Saturday night. We gathered around in our pegged pants to agree that David was some crazy SOB. The following Monday, I was at home playing hooky from school. I rarely visited high school. Much to my surprise, a brand new Ford dump truck pulled up in front of the Perham Street house. Crazy Davey got out and we celebrated his heroic act.
His plan, such as it was, was to drive the dump truck to Florida. He had $300 (working construction) in cash, a princely sum. I thought briefly about talking him out of this impetuous act. Then I decided.
“I’ll get my coat.”
O.K., it wasn’t Bonnie and Clyde or even Jack Kerouac, but it was a great adventure. I think I had $12 to add to the pot, so I grabbed it, my Mike Nomad jacket and a carton of Hit Parader cigarettes, popular (and cheap) at the time.
Someone told me later that you needed interstate plates to drive a truck across state lines. That didn’t stop us (we had no idea) as we drove Route 1 (it was 1957, after all) to New York City, which was where everyone went when they “ran away.”
Having a great time (David’s money) we continued to New Jersey where we somehow talked two beauties off a New Jersey bus (in pantomime) to come for a ride with us.
Once we got them, we had no idea what to do with them, of course. We were 16, maybe 17. No clue.
It was all liberating, great fun, even after David’s money started to run out. I had most of my $12 left. We made it to Washington, D. C. where we visited my Uncle who worked for the FAA. He was a brilliant lawyer, but somehow he bought our story about “an early vacation for teacher training” even though it was like October and school had started only a month earlier. Somehow, we avoided his insistence that we call home.
I don’t know how we explained the brand new Ford dump truck.
Eventually it dawned on us, like it did on Bonnie and Clyde, that we could not do this forever. We reluctantly returned home to Boston and the appropriately named Boston View Motel, somewhere around Foxboro. We called the gang and were met with a caravan of hero worshippers.
At first they decided we were both idiots. But as time wore on, maybe two weeks, we became folk heroes.
They told us that we were Topic One at the Holy Name dance, where the speculation was that we were two wild and crazy guys and were having a wild time. I thought back. On that same Saturday night we went to see “The Ten Commandments” somewhere in New Jersey and speculated that the gang was having a great time at the dance.
When I told the tale to my high school principal, he laughed so hard that he forgot to suspend me for two weeks unauthorized absence. My father did not laugh. Not even once. But he didn’t beat me to death, either.
As I head south next week, and travel through New York, New Jersey and Washington D. C., I will think about Crazy Davey and that brand new Ford dump truck.
I wonder if they still make Hit Parader cigarettes.
If Crazy Davey pulled in front of my house again, I would get in that brand new Ford dump truck again.