PART 3: I remember Grandma & Grandpa: For the dog lover in you. My friend Billy, lived across the alley from Nancy. Billy was my best friend. We were really close. Brick fights, alley hunting, war games but more on this later.
Directly across the alley in back of us were the Oneal’s. Occasionally Grandpa would chat a spell with Mr. Oneal. I don’t remember them ‘getting together’ for any particular occasion, just friends. I don’t remember Grandpa having any really close friends - the kind that come over and visit the basement or kitchen. He was just friends with the men in the neighborhood.
Two doors down from the Oneal's towards Billy’s house were the Mulligans. Young Jonny although a few years our senior, he was friendly with the younger kids in the neighborhood. In other words it was not beneath him to talk to us when our paths crossed. I was in his house once and although I did not know it then, he was very poor. The house was bare, and didn’t feel ‘homey’ - that warm and friendly feeling you get when you look around and there are comfortable things, chairs with cushions, tablecloths, lots of lights. Looked a bit like the house pictured below (both inside and out).
We used to tease his dog when Jonny wasn’t home. No one came out of the house to stop us. The animal was chained to his dog house situated in the center of the yard. It meant no one went into the Mulligans yard unless you were invited. It was like some cartoon. If you walked by, the dumb dog would bark like mad and stretch that chain till it practically choked him. One day I got particularly brave and edged into the yard a little bit, pausing from my usual trek over to Billy’s. I expected that dumb dog to go crazy trying to get at me. He just laid there. Boy is this going to be fun I thought. I edged a little closer. The dog was laying just in front of his dog house, head on its paws, eyes open.
I know that dumb dog saw me coming, and I knew when he got up to chase me, I could still out run it. I thought ‘one more step’ and that dumb dog is going to hang itself trying to get at me.
Something was not right. Maybe the chain was caught on something. Maybe the dumb dog had wrapped itself around its house and couldn’t move. He had done that before. I edged closer. Now I wanted to know what was going on. I could not figure out for the life of me why I wasn’t being chased. As I was thinking of these things, I kept edging closer. I stopped and suddenly things became clear.
I was the one being teased. I saw how his chain laid unobstructed in the tall grass and how there was nothing preventing him from coming after me. When I turned to run I saw I was closer to the dog house than I was to the alley. When I started to run something told me I wasn’t going to make. Then at full speed, backside to the dog, I felt something in the seat of my pants. Pain.
I ran back to my house, told Grandma I had been attacked by MULLIGANS dog. After she inspected the damage, as I lay over the bed, pants down in a humiliating position, she treated two small holes in one buttock with no blood that I know of. She had called Mrs. Mulligan, who upon hearing the news that her dog ravaged a 7 year old, simply suggested that the kids in the neighborhood really should stop teasing her dog. After all it was chained up.
Grandma was satisfied the animal had all its shots, and there wasn’t much of a response to what Mrs. Mulligan had said. She never said anything to me, and no punishment ensued. I guess she felt I'd been punished enough. I’ll tell you something else, that dumb dog went up a few notches in my intelligence book. I never teased it again.
Out front, Mom & Dad were friendly with the people directly across the street, and the people who lived a couple of doors over, the Cappi’s, (who I didn’t know until I was in high school and discovered they had a daughter my age) and somewhere behind these people lived Emma Pillashastski. Emma was a rather large lady and I think was somehow related to Grandma. A relationship I am presently researching.
Emma was the daughter of Martin (born 1864 in Bavaria). Emma never married and lived on 13th street in Springfield - just 2 streets over from Grandma. Her mother Lena (Magdalena), born in Saxony in 1870 or 1875, also gave birth to 4 boys. Willie (William Herman), Fritz (Fredric), George & Harry. All the children were born in Illinois. Each parent immigrated in 1872/73. I believe her maiden name to be Siefert. Perhaps I can find a relationship to the Blase family from that!
One day Grandma & I took a stroll to visit Emma and walking through the garage I recall seeing a black 1949 Ford in immaculate condition. It was 1964. I wanted that car when Emma was finished with it.
A few years earlier Aunt Sandy (aka my 'sister') had just purchased a used VW that was parked in our back yard. If her, why not me?
When I was young I used to call the windshield wipers 'fly swatters'. Sandy's car always reminded me of that.