Every neighborhood had a school, every
school had a playground and every playground had a special program
for the summer months. The programs were designed to give school
children an alternative to being unsupervised. For the most part
the programs were a success.
For the boys there were softball and handball leagues. For the
girls there were volleyball and kick ball leagues. There was a male
and a female playground director to oversee these activities.
Paddleball, carom and two-on-two basketball were some of the other
activities. Children from five to ten years of age would come dressed
in bathing suits. For them there were outdoor showers and sand boxes
for them to play in. Under a certain age a parents presence was
Friday night at dusk the big event of the week started amateur
hour. The amateur hour at the playground was very similar to the
one held during the winter months at the neighborhood movie. Talent
played no part in who won or lost. Winners were determined by who
got the most applause in the opinion of a playground director, this
turned amateur hour into a popularity contest.
The playground was closed on Sundays and this lead to my "arrest."
One Sunday I, along with several others climbed over the playground
fence to play a game of handball. Someone may have called the police
or they may have just noticed us. In any event when they pulled
up to the fence we all scattered. I was caught going out through
a break in the fence.
The policemen put me in the back of the car and drove to the front
of the house I lived in. They threatened me with all sorts of horrible
things if I were again caught committing the horrible offense of
breaking into the playground. I was the told to get out of the car.
How smart these policemen were. Before I got into the apartment
both my mother and my father were aware of the fact that I was brought
home in a police car. I caught more flak from them then the policemen
could have handed out.
My friends wanted to know if I had "ratted on them."
I told them that not only had I not "ratted" but that
I was never asked who the others were. I was not believed. My friends
thought I had spilled the beans and was afraid to tell them.
A few years had to pass for me to realize how easily the police
accomplished their mission.
I guess about sixty years later, in other words today, this trivial
incident would become, "Police Shootout At Local School Yard."