If we are fortunate to live long enough then we have, undoubtedly, witnessed enormous changes in our world. Many things have influenced and improved the quality of our lives and yet, people are people and sadly, human characteristics and traits haven’t kept up with progress.
Our penal system is overcrowded with thieves, rapists, child molesters, bullies, murderers, drunks, and drug addicts. I would guess that 2000 years ago these same types of people were also locked up.The more things change the more they remain the same.
As a young boy, I idolized my uncle. He was, indeed, the strongest person I knew and exhibited no fear of anyone or anything. I was spending the night with my uncle and his new wife. It was a hot and humid summer evening when they decided to stop at a small grocery store in an unsavory neighborhood. As a 9-year old, I had elected to stay in the backseat of the car while my aunt and uncle picked up a few items in the store.
I remember staring at the bugs flying around the parking lot lights. Suddenly, out of the shadows and into the light a monster appeared. The man was huge and an evil aura surrounded him. His glazed eyes were focused on me and he approached the car walking like Frankenstein with his arms outstretched. If he ever got ahold of me I knew the outcome would not be a pleasant one. Frantically, I started to roll up the back windows and lock the doors. Automobiles didn’t have electric windows or electric locks in those days. The man had his hands on the hood of the vehicle as he made his way around to my side. I leaped over the seat and rolled up one of the front windows. The monster wasn’t giving up and again circled the car to get me. I tried to scream for help but no sounds came out. When the attacker thrust his hairy arm through the remaining open window I proceeded to roll it up as fast as I could. I now had four of his fingers jammed and I held onto the window knob for dear life. A cab driver arrived on the scene and grabbed the man and threw him into his cab and sped off. No one came to my assistance that frightening evening and I never felt so helpless. It took several days before my voice returned.
I had another traumatizing event happen when I was 12-years old. Both of my parents worked and as an only child I would get off the school bus, unlock our kitchen door and immediately call my mom from the wall hung phone next to the door and let her know I was okay. In our hallway was a door that led down to the basement. The basement had steel walkout double doors that were normally bolted shut. On this particular day, I had laid my school books on the kitchen table and was speaking with my mother when I noticed the door to our basement was left ajar and the door jam was splintered. My mom was in a panic when I looked into the dining room and noticed my bank (the building in the above picture was Syracuse Savings and my bank was a bronzed replica) pried opened and empty on the dining room table. I was frozen with fear not knowing whether the robber was in the house when my mom told me to run next door. I thought my feet were in cement as I rushed over to the sanctuary of Mrs. Russo’s house.
Although I didn’t lose my voice during this incident, the feeling of imminent peril was certainly present. Childhood innocence is fragile and these two events took some of that away from me but lost innocence would grow exponentially with time.
Dennis L. Page