Thursday, November 20, 2008

Stevie and the nickle...

Every time I think of this I can't help but smile because it reminds me of how people will let their emotions overrule their logic.

I was about 9 years old and Stevie was about 7 or 8. Stevie was a neighbor who lived 2 houses to the west of Mom's house on Oliver Street in San Pedro, CA. On this particular day, we were walking east on Oliver St. somewhere between his house and ours. As I recall, I saw a nickle laying on the sidewalk. To use at that time and at that age, a nickle was enough to buy a Snickers, a Mars bar or even a soda.

As I pointed in the direction of the coin, I said, "Look, Stevie, a nickle!" Stevie reacted immediately and got to the nickle before I did. I told him that it was mine because I saw it first but he said that it was his because he got to it first. Now if this would have happened in front of Stevie's house, the assumption would be that it was more his than mine and in front of my house, more mine than his. That was sort of and unwritten law that all of the kids on the street recognized and respected. However, since it was between both of our houses, the geographical location of the nickle was considered the same as "international waters" and therefore, anything goes. So in order to settle the issue, we reverted to "jungle law" and started to fight over the nickle. Well, Stevie was smaller than me and real squiggly too. He got away and ran home with the nickle. I was crushed. Not because we fought, not because Stevie got away, but because he had my nickle.

I walked home crying about the lost nickle. When she saw me, my Mom asked why I was crying so I gave her a full account of what happened between Stevie, me and the nickle.

Now my Mom was raised during the Great Depression of the early 1930's so she was very frugal regarding financial and other matters. So she too reverted to "jungle law" and immediately got on the phone and called Stevie's Mom. They started to "argue" about what had happened. Seeing as how when my Mom got fired up, it would be a while before she was cool enough to handle so I went back outside to ride my bike. As I rolled out from the driveway to the sidewalk, I saw Stevie walking toward my house. He walked up to me and asked, "What are you doing?" "Nothing.", I said. He asked,"Want to go to the store?" I said, "Yeah, lets go."

Now the store that he was talking about was what we called the "Little Yellow Store". It was a neighborhood store set up in a converted clapboard house on the SW corner of Summerland and Bandini. At this store, a small bottle of Coke costs 7 cents. Stevie only had a nickle (my nickle). However, the store owner would allow us to sit outside and drink the soda as long as we brought her back the bottle which has a deposit of 2 cents. So in effect, we paid for the soda, but not for the bottle.

So Stevie and I sat outside the store and shared the soda. When we finished, we walked home and talked and played the whole way (2 blocks) as little boys will do. We hung out in front of Stevie's house for a while and then I went home. When I walked into the house, I heard my Mom still arguing with Stevie's Mom about the nickle that no longer existed and guaranteed, will not even be remembered tomorrow. Well, maybe 51 years later but not tomorrow.


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