Bobby was the bully of the neighborhood. He was 11 and I was 10. Bobby was easy to ignore in the winter. We were in different grades in school and our paths rarely crossed.
The summer was another story. When I wasn’t in downtown New Haven for the day, I was left to my own devices at home and usually at the mercy of my brother.
Most summer days I would wander around outside, roller skating or riding my bike. If Bobby saw me, he would knock me off the skates and laugh, or if he saw me riding my bike, he would pretend to try and knock me off the seat. Most days I retreated to the back yard.
We lived in a brick row house, one of many that lined the streets. and the apartment had what you would call “railroad rooms”. A connection of 3 rooms, one right after the other. We lived in the basement. There were 2 windows to the backyard and two windows to the front yard.
The backyard was longer than the entire 3 room apartment. On the left side closest to the window in the kitchen was a burner dug about 4 feet into the ground. This was back in the day when you could burn your trash, unless the neighbors had their wash hanging on the line.
The yard made a pretty good baseball field. Completely barren of grass, but with great distance for batting and running.
On either side of our yard were backyards exactly alike, separated by a 3’ wire fence with a wooden rail on top, just right for grabbing hold with one hand and hopping over easily enough to fetch a stray ball.
Mrs. Powell lived on one side where she raised chickens. She was an older Afro American woman who knew everyone’s business, but she was harmless.
On the other side, was a little girl whose name was Puddin’. Yep, Puddin’. She lived with her Aunt Pearl.
Next to them was Bobby Crowley, nasty boy. Bobby Crowley thought he was Superman.
He wore a Superman type cape all the time.
This particular day I was throwing the wiffle ball against the brick wall of the house between the 2 kitchen windows.
I could see Bobby out of the corner out of my eye just staring at me. I knew I was in for it. He hopped over his fence, then mine. I figured he would just take the ball away and that would be the end of it. It was easier to give in to his demands than to fight.
But he continued on to Mrs. Powell’s fence and jumped over that, all with his Superman cape flowing behind him like a flag.
Without hesitation, Bobby Crowley grabbed one of Mrs. Powell’s live chickens. He then jumped the fence back to my yard.
Before I knew what was happening, I was down on the ground. Bobby “Superman” Crowley was on top of me, rubbing the live chicken into my face and screaming at me to admit that he was the “real Superman”.
After what seemed like 10 minutes of having a chicken ass stuck in my face, and feathers coming out of my mouth, and chicken feet scratches on my chest, I gave in.
Yes, Bobby, you are the real Superman.
I like Superman and I don’t think he would have done this, unless of course, you’re Lex Luther.