Saturday, August 09, 2008

You Can't Hide Forever ...

When Paul Anawaty sent me an e-mail the other day, I remembered an event that took place in his back yard before he was born. I’ll start at the beginning.

Do you remember playing the game “Hide And Go Seek?” Of course you do. This childhood game was loads of fun. The kids on Pipkin Street in Beaumont used to play the game all the time. As I recall it was more fun hiding than it was being “It.” If you were “It” you had to look for the others who were hiding. The “It” role was kind of fun but could bring on frustration … especially if you looked everywhere and could not find anyone.

In the middle 1940s, The Pipkin Street gang, made up mostly of kids living in the 1300 block of Pipkin Street, spent hours hiding and seeking. Our rules went like this: The one who was “It” would have to hide his eyes. The way you hid your eyes was to place your hands over them. And peeking was cheating and no Pipkin Street member would ever bring dishonor on the group by cheating.

I never cheated by peeking. I did learn how to listen to every little sound. Sometimes I could hear footsteps of the others as they made their ways into hiding. This may have been a “semi-cheat” but certainly not a full-blown deception.

Anyway, the “seeker” would stand on the front porch of my house and face the door. With eyes covered he would count to 100. He was required to count audibly so the “hiders” could hear how he was coming along. At the end of the count, the “It” would yell, “Here I come, ready or not.”

We set boundaries for the game. For example, you could not hide beyond Jackie Garretson’s house going east on Pipkin and no further than Sonny Collier’s house going west. This left us with options of hiding anywhere within that perimeter. This included the yards of Margaret Ann Burch, my yard, the Heartfields’ and Mike Grime’s yards on one side of the street and Sonny’s yard, the Halfins’ yard, the Anawatys’ yard and Jackie’s yard on the other side.

One afternoon Malcolm Ward was “It.” Malcolm began counting and everyone scattered. I ran behind the Anawatys’ house looking around for a good hiding place. Their backyard was clear. Then I noticed the back door to the garage was open. I stepped into the garage and all I saw were yard tools and a wringer washing machine.

At first I thought just standing there inside the garage would suffice. Malcolm would never look there. Then on the other hand, he might. So I crawled up and hid inside the washing machine. It was like a big tub open on the top. I curled up around the agitator and considered myself sufficiently hidden.

Sure enough after just a few minutes, I heard Malcolm inside the garage. Hopefully he would not venture over and look down into the washing machine. He didn’t. He left and I stayed curled up inside that machine for a solid thirty minutes.

Finally I crawled out of the machine and walked back to the street. There was no one anywhere.

Turned out the gang was not playing Hide and Go Seek anymore. They thought I had gone home so they all went home. That washing machine was the best hiding place I ever had.

Paul Anawaty was born one year later. I never did thank Mr. or Mrs. Anawaty for their secure washing machine. And since I now cannot acknowledge to them my appreciation, I’ll thank their son. Paul, thank you for having parents that allowed the Pipkin Street gang to play in their yard and hide in their washing machine.

Winston Hamby


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