Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Childhood Friends

One day, when I was a pre-schooler, my next-door neighbor friend, Frank Ruzzuto, who was near my age, was playing with the rest of the neighborhood gang and my boy cousins.
The cousins would, most likely have just been Garth and David. Cousin David was just a baby and Richard was not born until I was 11.
At any rate, Frank decided that he would pretend to be the father and would go to the store in the family car. The car was sitting in front of his house and, of course, was unlocked. (I don’t think people locked anything back then. At least, none of the people I knew did.)
I climbed into the front seat on the passenger side. I was always the gullible one. 
Frankie, whether on purpose or by accident, did something to the shifting column that allowed the car to move forward. 
We lived on the south side of Carbon Avenue in Price, Utah, at the time. The roadway sloped towards the end of town. Of course, we started rolling, gaining momentum as we went. 
I don’t know, to this day, whether Cousin Garth, a couple of years younger than I, just screamed or whether he actually ran to get Aunt Renee. Perhaps it was neither and the noise of the other neighborhood kids alerted her or, perhaps, knowing how children behave, she just looked out the window to check on us, 
Whatever caused her to know about the danger, she responded. She came running alongside the car, jerked the door open, slammed on the brake and slid behind the wheel of the car in what seemed one fluid motion.
Thankfully, the car stopped. She then moved it back to the side of the street and got the two of us out. 
Mrs. Ruzzuto claimed Frank and I was taken into my own house. I was scolded, told never to get in a car without an adult inside ever again and had to sit in the corner for what seemed like forever. 
Needless to say, I didn’t ever quite trust Frank again. I did, however, trust his sister, Mary, and his little brother. 
Still, with all that, Frank and Mary managed to cause trouble for all of us once again. 
We used to love to eat Jell-O powder. We would get a package from one of our parents and would open it and pour a bit into one hand. Then we would lick it off and repeat the process until the Jell-O was gone. It was easy to share a package. You just poured some into your friend’s hand and they licked it away.
One day, when we were all outside playing together, Mary and Frank came outside with orange-flavored Jell-O. It was a bit lighter in color than the usual orange we were used to but not enough to really attract special attention.
After we consumed the Jell-O, we all found out that what we had really eaten was permanent wave powder.
My goodness! We all had excited adults at that point. 
It seems that Frank and Mary climbed up into the cupboard and got what they thought was Jell-O. The lesson: always let an adult get the treat down. Don’t be sneaky.
Dr. John Frank Colombo, the family doctor of most of us, was called and each of us had to drink lots of milk. That was usually fine, we all liked milk, but in this case it was punishment and all of us were unhappy and unwilling. It must have worked, however, because we all lived.

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