A perfect storm of events led to the following confession.
The story you’re about to hear is true; the names remain the same to protect no one. When I come clean, I don’t pull any punches.
American Graffiti, Lew Freedman and the Simpson brothers were the unwitting interrogators leading me to redemption. That’s an odd threesome you must admit, but let me finish. Freedman’s revelation about the statute of limitations excusing the criminal activity of Al Simpson resonated with me.
I too have done things in my past I’m not proud of, unless of course I’m bragging to my nephews. One such breach was oddly, cinematically reenacted after my first Cody baseball summer in ’71. We spent countless hours at Bud’s Drive-In and “Bugging Main,” so when American Graffiti soon came out, I coulda swore it was about, and filmed in, Cody. I watched the nostalgic gem way back when, but seeing it again recently, a scene I didn’t recall jumped out at me like a bad odor from my basement.
Remember a young Richard Dreyfuss passing time while he debated leaving for college in the morning? Making the mistake of sitting on the car of a Pharoah, three members of the street gang take him hostage for a night on the town.
I forgot that scene at a local arcade when to Curt’s horror, the thugs were breaking into a pinball machine. I says to myself, “YOU did that very thing once!” This sin I’m ashamed of, (except in rare situations) happened my senior year when after eighth period, I drove my dad’s Plymouth with my best buds Donnie Eash, Sam Rullo and Larry Grandas, to our local miniature golf arcade, the Four Seasons, 10 miles away.
We threw quarters into the batting machines and were upstairs playing pool when Eash and I went down to entertain our teenage addiction, pinball. Bleeding money profusely, one of us suggested breaking the machine open to get our money back. One of us fetched the fireplace poker and took turns prying that machine door before an ear-shattering crash. Shockingly with all the people upstairs, no one came to investigate.
Giddily, we filled our pockets with the gold mine of change and Rullo later said, “We could hear the money jangling in your bulging pockets when you ran up the steps.” Beating a path to dad’s car, I remember saying excitedly, “This is just the beginning.” Eash, in a moment of rationality said, “B.S; this is the end.”
I didn’t even drink back then, but I’m still mystified by my larcenous ambitions at the time. Truth be known, I went back once by myself and duplicated the dastardly act, and again pulled it off somehow.
You kids, I by no means condone stealing, but I guess it’s like the Platters used to sing while we drank root beer floats at Bud’s, “You’ve got to give a little; take a little, let your poor heart break a little…” Sure, I’ve taken some things that weren’t mine when young and foolish, but I firmly believe that’s what made me the man I am today.