A Postcard From The Past

It was a different time back then, my younger friend. On most days in the summer, you couldn’t even see the mountains because of the smog. People wax poetically about Fiscalini Field these days, and rightfully so because it was a great little park back then, even though it lacked almost all the modern amenities of today’s parks. However, it was certainly tied to the neighborhood around it in the early nineties – all of Perris Park was then. Highland Avenue was still vibrant then, all the way from the East Side to the West Side. Restaurants, bars, banks, and stores stretched across town. Now the Perris Park area is absolute nastiness, a place where even the hardiest hobo fears to tread, even if they are packing.

If one was going to a Spirit game back then, it was customary to get your drink on before the game at one of the surrounding bars. A popular bar for a pregame drink was Wackley’s on Del Rosa just off Highland. Many times people never made it to the game from Wackley’s. On the night in question, your Uncle Brian and his pal and my roommate Fred started at Wackley’s. You probably don’t remember Fred, but you might remember the story when that fucker stole my puppy and gave it to his girlfriend — a tale for another day.

You know your Uncle Brian was the sloppiest of drunks, and from Wackley’s, he and the Puppy Thief went to the Imperial Palace, the Chinese place directly across the street from Fiscalini that was notorious for burying people with still drinks, especially Scorpions. I am sure the two staggered from there to the game because that was the way things rolled back then.

Once in the game, they went directly to the Beer Gardens in let field. Fiscalini was a park from yesterday even then, but it was way ahead of its time with it shaded Beer Gardens – a nice little bar right on the field that served copious amounts of draft beer dirt cheap. Thirsty Thursday back then was $1.00 pitchers of Bud or Coors Light. It was a a rite of passage for high school kids to pass out there by the seventh inning stretch – again, a different time.

At some time during the game, your Uncle Brian and the Puppy Thief made it to behind home plate, which was a gambling den. People bet on everything and anything there – balls, strikes, outs, hits, when the manager would spit, you name it. The popular bet was whether or not the ball stayed on the mound after the catcher or ump rolled the ball to the mound after the third out.

A hat was passed around, and everyone threw in a dollar. Every pitch the hat would be passed down the line and the person holding the hat would have to add a dollar if the third out was not made. Once the third out was made, the person holding the hat had the opportunity to bet where the ball would end up – -either on the mound or on the grass. If that person guessed correctly, the pot was his. If not, the hat kept going the next inning.

On that fateful night, your Uncle Brian won the pot three times. To celebrate after the game, the two drove to the Sports Page, which was degenerate even by Berdoo standards. Eventually, they were told to go home, which for your Uncle Brian at the time was Acacia Park on the North End. Through the dark night they went on 40th Street in your Uncle Brian’s work truck.

At 40th and Electric Avenue, they ran into a severe logistics problem. Your uncle took the turn way too fast and ended up plowing through a cactus garden and smashed into the living room of the corner house. You are probably scratching your head right now, thinking. “40th and Electric? That is where that flower shop is, but the house on the right isn’t close to the street. There is no way a truck could have hit that!”

Well, the flower shop is gone these days, as are most businesses that were there. However, I assure you those two numbnuts managed to hit that house HARD. How they did it would probably still be debated today if the Puppy Thief hadn’t turned out to be such a fuckwad, but the two somehow pushed the car back to the road and limped home before the cops arrived. When the two investigated the garage the next morning, they found one very broken truck fill with cacti parts.

That night, under the cover of darkness, they managed to get the truck to the H Street Body Shop, which used to make a fortune covering up hit and run accidents – just ask your dad’s friend Ron Barthel. Early the next morning, Brian went to H Street Body and admitted the truck was his. The manager asked him what his business was supposed to do with that truck, and Brian simply said, “Fix It.” The manager replied something that broken can’t be fixed and asked just where the hell did all that cactus come from?

Brain knew if H Street Body could not fix it, he was truly screwed. He went to work with his tail between his legs and essentially traded his new truck with his boss. This all went down just about the time I met your dad, which was also when he met your Uncle Brian. You see, Brian isn’t really your uncle – that is just another bullshit thing your parents tried to pass off – like Santa Claus.

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