How My Brother Saved Me From a Life of Crime

1950's Technology

When I was about 7 or 8, I was fascinated with the world around me.  Even at that time I loved the latest technology.  Like a toaster that popped up all by itself, a clock that had a snooze or the washing machine that had an electric wringer.

I know you will say they had wringer washers for a long time before that. True. But not in my house. I was truly fascinated with that wringer. I couldn't wait for the next wash day. I did run my arm into it a couple of times. It had a safety bar that stopped it and popped it open, so it wasn't that bad. A few bruises and that was about it. I wish I had one of those right now to play with.

TV Panel and Mechanical Calculator

Old TV Console
Old TV Console
Super Duper Calculator
Super Duper Calculator

The greatest invention of the era: TV

The greatest invention though was a Television set that was a huge piece of furniture that looked like a dresser but had only a 12 inch black and white screen. In the early 50's the programming was rather limited with broadcasts only evenings and weekends, but I was fascinated with the TV itself. I always thought that the programming was dopey but I could hardly stand not knowing what was inside that box and how it worked.

We received a local station and the reception was completely dependent on a pair of rabbit ears that dad hung on the wall and two balls of tin foil attached to the ends of the antenna which served to give the TV a living look, although living color was not a feature in our household for quite a few years after that. The reception gained on those rabbit ears sometimes required holding them at just the perfect angle.

We fixed it!

What really interested me was the inside of that box. I did get a look in there a couple of times, and although I had no idea what I was looking at, it was magnificent. A lot of tubes and such that all lit up and created a tremendous amount of heat. One time the TV stopped working and my brother Tom opened up the back of the thing and we saw that a couple of tubes were not lit. We took them out and took them to a place that sold tubes and had a tester. We tested them and replaced the ones that needed to be replaced and the TV worked again. Now that there was technology!


There was no money for .......

At some point we acquired through perfectly legal means a penlite flashlight. Of course, I wanted to take it apart and inspect the light, battery, switch, and how the mechanism worked. I spent several days playing with that penlight. And, well, it didn't really belong to me, it belonged to my brother Butch. So when I completely exhausted the battery, he was unhappy. I knew it was a matter of getting another battery.

There was no money for batteries.

It was only a few days before I had my chance. We were at the country store. In those days the convenience stores were small mom and pop stores that stocked a little of everything, groceries, nails, paint, chicken feed, etc. which saved us a drive to town, a drive we could ill afford. While in the store, I spied the exact battery that Butch needed for his penlite. Of course there was no way that I would ever be able b-u-y the battery.


My first crime!

Sooooooooo, I decided to borrow the battery. I can still remember the excitement I felt walking out of there with the merchandise in my pocket. I had just gotten away with the crime of the century! I was destined for a life of crime. I had no regrets and didn't care if it was wrong. I felt exhilarated. I was headed for a life of crime. It suited me. I liked how it felt.


I waited until the most opportune time to reveal my treasure to Butch. I was thinking that he would think it was the greatest thing. I showed him the battery I had absconded with and his reaction was not at all what I expected. He looked at me and frowned and then all of a sudden he bellowed “MOM! MOM! MOM! Look, Steve stole some batteries when we at the store.” What the hell? I was had.

I got caught stealing.


Bad Boy, Bad Boy, Watcha gonna do?

The Punishment!

You can never forget the look on a mother's face that tells you disappointment, hurt, rage, and determination all in a split second, but it was emblazoned in my mind for all time, to haunt me the rest of my life anytime I decided to do the wrong thing. That single second in time has never left me.


Well that look and that second in time was nowhere near enough for my mother. Oh noooooo, not even close. The first thing she did was grab me by my ear and dragged me to the car. The whole time shouting in Italian and French. Something like, “Sacre bleu, Momma mia.....” I had no idea what she was saying but the message was clear. She piled all of us in the car, shotgun was reserved for me, not a seat of honor, but a seat of shame. Off we went.


When we arrived I was again pulled by the ear to stand in front of the store owner. Here I was to return the stolen goods, apologize, and offer to work until the debt was paid. I was told that if the police were called, there would be no reprieve. I would have to face the music. I tearfully returned the battery, apologized and told the shop keeper I would work for him (who, by the way, was friends with my parents) and did work sweeping the front walk and entrance area a few times.


My Brother is my Guardian Angel

Thank you Butch!

This experience never left me. I wanted to steal a lot of times in my life and I did a few times, too, but I would always go back to that time and I felt guilty and afraid that I would get caught. Consequently, over all these years, I have kept my nose clean and resisted a life of crime because I could not do the time. I have my brother, Butch, to thank for this outcome.


Thank you Butch, you saved me from a life of crime!

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Comments 20 comments

De Greek profile image

De Greek 6 years ago from UK

What a wonderful, touching, BRILLIANT story, Steve! I love it. And so well told too! Thank you :-)))


SteveoMc profile image

SteveoMc 6 years ago from Pacific NorthWest Author

De Greek Thanks so much for reading and commenting on my hub. I have had a lot of fun writing these anecdotes about my past and have decided that they are the balance to the other things I like to write about. I appreciate your support, and I love your writing, too. I only wish I had more time to read.


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 6 years ago

We are all eternally grateful to your brother. If you had turned to a life of crime, we wouldn't be "talking" now. Thanks Butch!


SteveoMc profile image

SteveoMc 6 years ago from Pacific NorthWest Author

breakfastpop Thanks once again for reading. I do owe a my brother a lot. He and I are getting together in a couple of weeks. Should be fun.


samiaali profile image

samiaali 6 years ago

What a wonderful story! I love the way you tell it!


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS

Steve! That's fabulous! How great that Butch thought of your character before having the penlight light up! As a kid, he'd probably have enjoyed it too! He was a really good big brother, for sure. -

BTW - my kids were born in the mid 50s and I remember when nursing my firstborn I'd try to watch the tiny round black and white TV screen to keep myself awake, especially at night. During the daytime feedings, I had to pull all the curtains and get the room as dark as possible to be able to see a thing.

In Waco, Texas, programming was limited but there were some programs in the daytime. One of them was one called "Do You Trust Your Wife" (I think it became known as "Who Do You Trust" later.-Guess who was the rookie moderator of it? JOHNNY CARSON!! Yep. What a gangly stringbean he was, too. But he showed promise of his later wry wit and ability to handle live guests! As I recall, the husbands and maybe the wives had to answer some questions about each other and were awarded prizes for correct answers involving figuring out what the spouse would answer, or something like that, anyway.

Your reference to those old TV sets brought it to mind. Good story all the way around!


SteveoMc profile image

SteveoMc 6 years ago from Pacific NorthWest Author

samiaali Thank you for your kind words. I am glad that you liked it. I think that these stories have a certain appeal. It reminds me of how I grew up and what has contibuted to me being the the way I am.


SteveoMc profile image

SteveoMc 6 years ago from Pacific NorthWest Author

Nellieanna Thanks so much for the read and comments...unbelievable about Johnny Carson. OMG on the tiny round screens, I totally remember those and they were green when they were off. Hahahaha.....well I had a hard time finding a photo of them....if I could only take a screen shot of my memory!


Woody Marx profile image

Woody Marx 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

A good brother is worth his weight in gold and rare jewels! I have one too. I enjoyed your story.


SteveoMc profile image

SteveoMc 6 years ago from Pacific NorthWest Author

Woody Marx Thanks for reading, you are right, a good brother is a blessing no matter how many times he has beaten your ass. LOL Glad you enjoyed the story.


katiem2 profile image

katiem2 6 years ago from I'm outta here

What small blessings make all the difference. I enjoyed this very much, thanks for the inspiring message! :)


SteveoMc profile image

SteveoMc 6 years ago from Pacific NorthWest Author

katiem2 Thanks for the kind words, it is true isn't it? The small things that can make a difference in our lives? Glad you enjoyed it, when someone else enjoys what you have written, it is the best complement.


BennyTheWriter profile image

BennyTheWriter 6 years ago from Northeastern U.S.A.

It's very ironic that the same brother you went on all those trouble-filled adventures with ended up inadvertently changing the course of your life for the better. Another great story!


SteveoMc profile image

SteveoMc 6 years ago from Pacific NorthWest Author

Benny, thanks again. It is ironic huh? I had great brothers and they are still with me today. It is funny how those old twists and turns stay with you, but you can't find the car keys. I'm glad you like the stories and now I am motivated to crank out a couple more.


urs_dipak profile image

urs_dipak 6 years ago from Kolkata, West Bengal, India

You are really good writer, I like your comments on questions and its very nice Hub.

Thanks


SteveoMc profile image

SteveoMc 6 years ago from Pacific NorthWest Author

URS thank you for you comment...these stories are fun to write. I like to look at the questions....sometimes it is just fun.


SilverGenes 6 years ago

That look on a mother's face does stay with us a long time! "If the police were called, there would be no reprieve" - oh my! You must have been terrified! I spent a ride home hiding in the back seat one time while my dad did his best to avoid the police - I had taken a doorstop home with me from the shoe store! Thanks for the memories :)


SteveoMc profile image

SteveoMc 6 years ago from Pacific NorthWest Author

SilverGenes The mother's look kept me out of jail. I was scart' alright! LOL that doorstop crime probably kept you safe from felonies all your life. Little things like that can mean a lot.

Thanks for the read and appreciate your support.


Paradise7 profile image

Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

Terrific hub, friend! You can have all my votes should you ever desire to run for Mayor!


SteveoMc profile image

SteveoMc 6 years ago from Pacific NorthWest Author

Paradise7 Thanks so much, the greatest complement is not in the reading but in the enjoying. I might enter that mayoral race.

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