I was publicly shamed when I was about eight years old. My buddies and I recently watched Jerry Lewis in The Bell Boy at the old Highland Theatre on 79th & Ashland.
We were delighted by Jerry Lewis' antics and mimiced his facial contortions and spasmodic contortions on our walk home to 75th Place and Wood Street, where we sat on a horseshoe of painted boulders under the street sign and continued to pantomime spastic reactions to everything. Mrs. McGuinness and her five year old boy Robbie walked behind us on their way home from the Hamilton Dairy store at 75th & Paulina. Robbie had Downs Syndrome.
We began to mock Robbie in the manner of the comic genius so beloved by France.
We followed Mrs,McGuiness who was openly crying, but we could care less - Hell, Jerry Lewis is a movie star. What's her problem.
Mr. Balllina and Mrs. Ballina yelled from their porch, " You little bastards, stop that! Who do you think you are scaring the poor little guy and making his Momma cry." The Ballinas were older than our parents and childless. Mr. Ballina worked for the Bell Phone Company and his green truck was often parked in front of our house. He was a short wiry little guy with arms like Popeye. He was no where near finished with me and my pals.
Phil and Marie Ballina's corrections had alerted all of our Mom's and we were now about to sail up Shit Creek.
Slaps attendant and exile to our rooms, basements or porches, depending up the level of disgust our mothers had for us, were as nothing to the ticking of seven kitchen clocks up Wood Street and across 75th Place signaled the impending arrivals of Dads.
When Dads came home from shifts, we were properly re-beaten, belted, slapped and vilified according to sizes and ages, but that was not all - No, not by a jug full.
Each Dad shoved each son to McGuiness home up tyhe porch stairs and we each apologized to Robbie, who hugged each of us and said, "Thas Oh Ride Pad, Yus My Bes Frens!"
I learned shame. The shame of this act of my is still very much with me. I learned not to do cruel things to people at a very early age, or at least I learned what cruelty really means.
We pulled weeds and did sic and fetch for Mrs. McGuinesses for a few days after and not one of us could look one another in the face again without a sense of group shame.
Boys will be boys, until they learn to be gentle men. Girls can be even more brutal, but they not generally thoughtless.
As we got older we learned and believed that toughness had more to do with be able to take punishment, than dishing it out.
A few days ago some teens in my neighborhood broke into the Chicago Ag High School. A wonderful woman shared the news of this on Facebook
This was shared with me today. It happened yesterday 6/23/16.
At the Ag School last night someone broke in and harassed all of the animals, tied the mother goat up with a rope, threw eggs at the baby goats, and tied all the chickens legs together. A Police report has been filed. Empty egg cartons were found on the scene. If anyone knows anything about this please contact the 22nd district. Might be a good time to have a conversation with kids about harming animals as local kids are usually seen drinking out in the field behind the school.
The reaction to this universal neighborhood shame and the comments ranged from " arrest the bastards' to " Boys will be Boys,"
On my walks to morning services, last week which takes from 107th & Rockwell, across the CSX rails to Talman Steet, which is a beautiful walk with no two homes alike and varied in design and size. Last week I saw egg shells all over the sidewalks between 106th Street and 103rd Street on the west side of Talman.
I have had my raised ranch egged by teens in passing cars. It is a pain to clean dripping yolks and whites off of bricks and windows, but what the hell.
Damage to property is a step toward thuggery. The next step is cruelty to living things - small animals. Then, it is human beings.
We get our moral shorts in knot when we read about cats being napalmed and dogs used for target practise.
Then we really get to marching and vigil-ing when people get murdered. Cruelty is easy.
I grew up at time when consequences were important thanks be to God. The parents today not only must teach their children well, even within a culture that ignores consequences universal.
My neighbors arrested our development into nasty, vicious little bastards, for the most part, back in 1960.
I am angry that kids in my neighborhood would pelt baby goats with eggs and tie up the poor mother, but understand their acting out needs a swift address, by parents and neighbors.
Tying the chickens together? Awesome! No. that is wrong too, but I could still get behind that. Chickens are nasty critters. Better angels, you recalcitrant nave!
Seriously, I know my neighbors will get to these kids.
Once we understand cruelty - we will never watch, much less laugh about another Jerry Lewis movie.