How many games of touch football were played on this street?
How many first downs reached? How many passes picked off? How many touchdowns scored?
How many games of kickball and four square?
How many races run, and ropes jumped?
How many activities paused, momentarily, to allow a car to pass? How many drivers asked to park in the driveway or a little ways up?
How many bicycles raced? How many wheelies done?
How many knees skinned, and elbows bruised on this street?
How many dukes put up to settle scores before things were cool again later that afternoon or the next day? How many fat lips traded among friends?
How many straw boat races held during the spring thaw, or after a heavy rain, in the gutters along the curb?
How many kids with fistfuls of nickels and dimes and quarters scrambled to catch the ice cream boy after being lured by the jingle-jangling bells on his three-wheeled ice box?
How many stops did the milkman make?
How many footfalls trampled the pavement, as kids stampeded home from the elementary school just up the block?
How many brown, withered leaves, from bygone silver maples and elms that once shaded it all summer long, settled here before being cleared away?
How many memories were made on this street?
More than they’ll ever be, ever again?
(c) Bob Campbell/bobcampbellwrites.com
This man was born 100 years ago today. The world has never been the same.
Georgia-born, he became a child refugee in the Great Migration when his father moved their small family north to Michigan where the father went to work for a booming automaker in a rising place called Flint. He was a boy during the Great Depression and, years later, was working as a janitor at AC Spark Plug when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.
In December 1942, he kissed his young bride goodbye and marched off to war in Europe. After combat training in Fort Huachuca in the Arizona desert, he eventually went ashore overseas somewhere in Leghorn, Italy, with elements of the 92nd Division, the all-black combat unit in Uncle Sam's segregated Army. There, his division, part of the Fifth Army, fought its way up the Ligurian Coast and into the Northern Apennines and Italian Alps smashing German Nazis. When Italy's fascist dictator Benito Mussolini was captured, executed by Italian partisans and his corpse hung in a public square in Milan, he was just 20-25 miles away.
Bob Campbell, an essayist and novelist, likes his bourbon neat. His debut novel, Motown Man, was published by Urban Farmhouse Press in November 2020.