No. 1 Most Wanted From The Chicago Seven

boys playing ball in the street
boys playing ball in the street

Background

When my children were growing up, it was still normal for children to play in the street and alley surrounding your neighborhood. They were not allowed to leave the block and were overseen by mothers who had children playing together.

On our block there were groups of children who played together of all ages both boys and girls. It just so happened that there were seven boys all the same age on our block. When you have a group this large in size it is fair to say there is a whole myriad of attitudes and behaviors. One was rather large for his age and he had a habit of riding roughshod over the rest. He wasn't so much a bully but he was large and in charge so to speak.

The rest of the boys were all about the same height and weight and they seemed to follow whatever was the game of the day and whatever Ben wanted to play. But if the truth be told, what one didn't think of the other ones did. It was rare that the group split up or played in smaller groups except for what occurred the year they graduated from preschool and were ready to go on to kindergarten.

All of the boys except one graduated and passed on. This left the one child out of the gang so to speak and he was forced to play with whichever children were home from school for that half day's kindergarten periiod.


hand full of paint
hand full of paint

Preschool Hoodlum

On that morning, I watched through the window as my now five-year old played with another boy in front of my neighbor's house. As I watched the friend's mother came by and collected him and off they went up the block.

Not thinking much about it, I went about my chores and suddenly my mother's instinct told me to check on that lone boy who was outside playing. As I got to the door, the doorbell rang and I opened the door.

"Do you have a boy wearing a red hooded sweatshirt?" I was asked.

"Yes," I responded.

"Come with me, you need to see this!"

So with trepidation in my heart, I followed this irate neighbor up to the farthest house on the block and through her yard. In her garage was a beautiful brand new car with finger painting all over it as well as the walls of the garage. In the corner of the garage were cans of opened paint left there by the woman's father who was painting their house. I can see where open cans of paint in an open garage would be inviting to a five-year old boy but my heart sank as I realized the immensity of this infraction.

My first reaction was to go into the woman's house and call my insurance agent. Who laughingly said, "It's mine" because he insured both my house the the neighbors. My next call was to my husband to tell him to get home now from work because he had some damage to clean up. Since he painted houses as a sideline I knew he could handle the spots of paint on the floors and walls. The car was a different story. When I got back outside to the garage, it was gone. The neighbor who had the painted car was married to a salesman for a new car dealership. He had already had the mechanic's pick up the car and take it to the dealership to be repaired.

Did I forget to mention that, in all this time that I was taking care of this fiasco, my son was no where to be seen. So my next job was to find the demon and take care of his punishment. He was not anywhere outside and I went back home to check on my younger child who was with my mother before I continued to look for him.

As I entered the house, I heard movement in the basement. The lights were not on as I started down the steps but I could see light from the outside cellar doorway. There at the laundry tubs was my hoodlum trying to wash paint off his little hands.

The look he gave me was so pitiful, it was hard not to laugh or cry. I had to be stern because he had to know this was not acceptable behavior. To say the least, my son became the No. 1 most wanted on the Chicago Seven list. His every movement from that day forward was watched with suspicion.

© 2013 Laura L Scotty

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