Sunday, 1 April 2012

Mike Rogers

In 1955, my parents moved from their house on Douglas Avenue to a brand new house at 7 Dalecliff Cresent. I was three at the time and although I probably wasn't included in the decision, it turned out all right in the end. It was a three bedroom house and had a huge back yard. My dad even gave a part of it away in order to avoid the extra work involved in looking after it. A man after my own heart.

Whether it was blind luck or fate, the people that bought the house at 5 Dalecliff
Crescent had three kids. The oldest, Jim was out of luck, but John and my brother Steve were pretty much the same age and Mike and I were the same age. Perfect, built in playmates! We quite literally grew up together. Back in those days, we would wander from house to house, playing and probably eating and drinking from which ever mom would feed us. Mike and I had rooms across the breezeway and would talk sometimes into the night.

We spent our childhood walking to and from school together. We caught butterflies and caterpillars, blew up ants with fire crackers, caught pollywogs and watched them grow up into frogs. Well, at least they started to grow into frogs just before they died of starvation. I guess pollywogs don't eat corned beef sandwiches. We played pirates, cowboys and indians and I am sure there wasn't a treasure in a four block radius that we didn't find.

In the winter, when dad would send us out to shovel the snow, we would see the Rogers boys out shoveling snow and before you knew it we would be having a snowball fight over the hedge or digging a cave in the huge pile of snow that we had just made. In the summer, we would play a catch and chase game called "What time is it Mister Wolf?" It sounds pretty stupid now, but it was tons of fun back then. Mike and his brothers were the only ones that I ever played and finished a game of monopoly with. The long version, not the short version. Boy, were we glad when school started again.

One year, we all pooled our money and bought a big shopping bag of fireworks. Mostly firecrackers, but we had some small rockets, some worms and of course the burning school house. We had more than a couple of packs of sparklers and we had what we called "punk" which would smolder and let us light off the millions of fire crackers that we had. The day came, and we brought this huge bag of fireworks out on the front lawn. We had all spent hours unravelling the packs of firecrackers in order to be ready. We each grabbed a handful, a punk and started to light and toss the firecrackers. I don't know who tossed the firecracker, but it blew up and we could see the smoldering piece of wrapping, arch (in slow motion) and eventually land in the big bag of fireworks. What followed was, honest to God, the best thirty seconds of my life. It all blew! There were a few ladyfingers and inchys left, but pretty much everything disappeared in a puff of smoke. Nothing was to be seen of the bag.

We went to high school together and somehow managed to discover girls at about the same time. In fact, his girlfriend and mine happened to be best friends. We spent a lot of time together and discovered that there were substances out there that could change the way you looked at the world. Some would allow you to view your supper several hours after you had eaten it. I remember a night when we had stolen a couple of bottles of Don's dads homemade wine and each of us ended up puking into different sewers on the same street. It doesn't sound like fun, but it was.

We grew up and got married, had kids and worked to feed them. Somehow, we have drifted apart. We stay in touch, not as often as either of us would like, but somehow that is how the world wants things.

Mike is celebrating his 60th birthday today and unfortunately I am here in California and am unable to attend. I have missed a lot of his birthdays, but this one kind of hurts. I suppose that I was at the ones that really mattered.

Well, I hope that you are having a HAPPY BIRTHDAY Mike. Thanks for helping me become the person I am. So, if anyone has any problems with me, you can talk to Mike.

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