When you write you often draw from your experiences. This true story helped my write a segment in my novel Mercy Row Clann.
A Lesson Learned- Growing Up In North Philly
Not proud of this one, but hey if you’re a story teller you tell the bad and the good. This was bad.
When I was about 17 I had a friend from school that lived near Indian and 25th Street. It was one of the few Italian neighborhoods in North Philly and it was a rough one. My friend had joined the Navy and his mom was giving him a going away party. He invited me and told me to bring some of my friends from my neighborhood.
At that time I had a 1950 Ford I bought for $15 so we all jumped in the Ford and took off to the party. He had invited all of his friends from the neighborhood and it was a packed house. I drank a bit too much and had taken forty dollars out of my pocket to give a guy a fiver to buy some more beer. I didn’t know it but I guess a couple guys saw I had a few bucks.
At one point I asked if I could lie down on an upstairs bed as I was feeling very woozy. My friend said yes and so I did. The next thing I know I was being punched in the face. It kind of woke me up. The second punch knocked me off the bed and as I looked up from the floor I saw a large foot come, what seemed slowly but wasn’t, toward my face.
I have to say I actually didn’t feel any pain, but I was so pissed off that someone would hit me that I started to yell and get up. Two guys ran out of the room, just before my four friends came in. I told them what happed and they were ready to turn the place out. My friend’s mother and owner of the house, begged us not to start any trouble so we agreed to just leave.
One friend that had not been drinking so he went to get the car. They others helped me down the steps. Just as I got on the sidewalk someone jumped from the porch and hit me on the back of the head. Another friend had just opened the back door to the car and luckily I was propelled into the back seat.
It was the oddest feeling. I could hear everything, but couldn’t see or move. What I heard was bdellium. I learned a day later what had happened. When the kid hit me in the back of the head my friend Bob (he was a tough kid) punched my assailant in the face and knocked him out. This started a riot. We were five, less me not able to move in the back seat, against 40.
One friend opened the car trunk and took out a tire iron and started to flail it around to keep them away. At one point the tire iron stopped and it was pulled out of his hand and someone hit him with it.
There were several bars nearby and when they heard the noise they emptied out and joined the crowd against us. Just when it really looked bad someone yelled that the cops were coming and my friends were able to get into the car. Two of them propped me up between them in the back seat and we were off.
At this point I was starting to be able to see and I looked at the friend on the right and his face was bloody and bruised. I looked at my friend on the left and he had a bump on his forehead, blood on his lip and a broken hand. They looked at each other and started to laugh. As we made our way east on Allegheny Avenue back to Front Street we were all laughing.
The next day we went back and apologized to the mother and we were hoping we would see some of the kids that jumped us. Fortunately we did not.
Oh right, lesson learned. Never, ever flash any money around people you don’t know. And maybe you shouldn’t drink too much.
By the way, they never did get my money.