Friday, October 12, 2007

Girls 1; Boys 0

Margaret Ann lived next door to me in Beaumont during the 1940s. She was a member in good standing of the Pipkin Street gang. Our gang included about a dozen or so guys and gals all within three years of each other in age. Margaret Ann was the oldest girl and assumed leadership of the “girl portion” of the gang. By the same token, I was the oldest boy thus leader of the “boy group.” This arrangement worked fine on a day-to-day basis.

However, this arrangement did not work so fine if and when there should arise any dissension among the troops. Particularly, dissension between the girls and the boys. This rarely happened but it did on occasion raise its ugly head.

As I recall, the girls got mad at us guys one afternoon because we threw mud at them. It was always fun throwing mud at the girls because we were very accurate with our aims. The girls, on the other hand, were not so accurate. They would throw back at us guys. But the girls couldn’t throw. Girls just were not built to throw mud. And when the boys would laugh at them, they would only get madder. And finally they would turn in a huff and walk away. Probably they retreated to the safety of their homes to play with their dolls or sharpen their skills at the game of jacks. When it came to playing jacks, those girls were unsurpassed.

Anyway, for whatever reason, the girls were mad. So we guys were hanging out over at Jackie Garretson’s house playing with our molding clay. In a few minutes, I heard my dad calling me. He wanted me to come home. I was curious as to what he wanted so I ran home to meet him.

Dad invited me into the house and then into the bedroom. I began to wonder about the situation because usually he did not invite me into the bedroom unless I was in trouble. Dad asked me why I put mud on Ned’s army helmet? Of course I did not know what he was talking about and said so. Dad came back with, “You know what you did and now you’re not telling me the truth.” He leaned me over his knee and gave my backside a good warming up.

I still did not know why this was happening but began to get an idea. You see, Ned was Margaret Ann’s little brother. He was too young to be in the Pipkin Street gang but we liked him. He was sort of like a baby brother to all of us. One of Ned’s favorite toys was a full-sized plastic army helmet. Ned would wear this helmet and march up and down the sidewalk like a true soldier.

Margaret Ann and her group of girls had put mud on Ned’s helmet. Then she had gone over to my house and showed my dad the helmet saying, “Look at what Winston did to Ned’s army helmet.”

In one swift maneuver, the girls had gotten back at the guys … not because they learned to throw mud. But rather because they learned to manipulate. I believe that all girls are born with special manipulation talents. We males just have to grin and bear it. From our youth up.

Years later I told my dad that the girls had tricked him into giving me that spanking. His reply was, “Well, you probably got away with a lot of things that you didn’t get a spanking for so just apply that spanking to one of those other times.

Gangs were fun in those days even if we didn’t win all our battles …

Winston Hamby
The Beaumont Enterprise


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