Up Against the Wall

I’ve never considered myself an athlete, and most would agree. As a kid, I did, however, possess an unique set of skills, that, while they never won any awards, occasionally come in handy. I could balance on a beam without too much wobbling. In baseball, I could steal bases with impunity. Most unique, however, was […]

Impractical Jokers

There is an art to a practical joke. You have to find the perfect combination of target, lure and payoff. If you choose the wrong target, you can get in trouble or worse. If you don’t choose the right lure for the target, they don’t fall for the trick. If you choose a payoff that […]

Brotherly Shove

Growing up with siblings is probably a challenge for most kids, and boys even more so. My brother Jim and I were friends and enemies, collaborators and competitors. Being the younger of the two brothers, however, I was as much the target of hijinks rather than the instigator.  When I was 10 years old, we […]

Fruit Fight!

In Ancient Rome, throwing an apple at someone was considered a sign of affection, or even a potential marriage proposal. When I was a kid, throwing a piece of fruit was a way to work on your throwing arm. The further and harder you could throw, the more you rose up in the neighborhood kid […]

Neighborhood Bully

Growing up is fraught with hazards. Whether it was a stray dog roaming the neighborhood or being picked last for the team, each day could be filled with seemingly life-or-death challenges. My childhood nemesis was Brian, who lived on the corner near our house. He was friends with my older brother Jim, so he hung […]

As Easy as Riding a Bike

Learning to ride a bike is a childhood rite of passage. Fewer things build more confidence than the day that the training wheels come off the bike and you can finally ride on your own. It’s probably as close to flying as you can get while still on the ground. For some of us, though, […]

Ice Stormed

My 6th birthday was January 27th, 1967. Having a birthday during the winter can limit the options for birthday activities, but at least it was a month past Christmas, so I never felt like I got cheated by combining my birthday with the holiday. There was enough distance to justify presents for both, even if […]

Spelling Bee

Even though I’ve never been a star athlete or big trophy winner, I’ve always been competitive. Whether it was playing Chutes and Ladders or racing bikes from school to home, I always competed to come in first. That rarely paid off in wins, but I still fought to do as well as I could. Since […]


My childhood neighborhood was built around a former apple orchard, where my cousins lived in the other houses on the block. In the space behind the houses, the neighborhood kids would play together. We’d play games like Army, Cowboys and Indians, and the ever-popular Dirt Clod Fight. In the center of The Orchard stood our […]

Hood Ornament

Today, cars are full of safety features. Air bags, anti-lock brakes, stability control are common. Many cars even have anti-collision features that automatically stop the car in an emergency. In the 1960s, cars weren’t nearly as sophisticated. Seat belt use wasn’t a common thing back then. Mom’s safety protocol consisted of swinging her arm out […]