I confess that I used to get into a few scuffles as a kid. Not that I went looking for trouble, but it seemed to find me somehow. This is the corner, across from the church on one side, across from the corner store on the other and kitty-corner to the apartment where we lived on Mountain Avenue, where I engaged in a Friday, after school fight with Ronnie Stachursky and a couple of his buddies. It wasn’t serious, nobody died, there wasn’t blood. Just kids wrestling. All because I had the wrong color jacket.
In Winnipeg, in 1962, it was very cool to wear a Blue Bomber football jacket. The standard was a waist length felt jacket with shoulder crescents that were striped in team colors. Blue and gold for the Bombers, obviously. Ronnie Stachursky had such a jacket. I had one as well, except mine was in the colors of the Edmonton Eskimos (even though we had never set foot in Edmonton). Purchased, no doubt, because the Winnipeg colored jackets were sold out. I admit that I was disappointed to be wearing green and gold, when clearly I was a (9 year old) Bombers fan. Anyway, Ronnie and his two buddies were not about to let me get away without some harassment over the jacket. Words like ‘traitor’ and ‘back-stabber’ were used. Not as disturbing as the time I was called ‘wagon burner’ in the school yard, which I had no idea what that meant at the time, just that it was an insult of some kind, so there was no choice left but to defend my honor.
The thing is, I had spent the first half of the year living in Old Kildonan, on what I believed was a farm, even though it was just a rented house on 10 acres out in the country, just outside City limits. After all, my friend Eddie Johnson, lived on a pig farm, just down the road. It was my belief, at the time, that farm boys were much tougher than city boys, so I agreed to take on all three. I dispatched Ronnie quite quickly, being that he was a pretty skinny light weight. As I wrestled the other two, a car pulled up curbside and stopped beside us.
Out of the car stepped Mr. Pybus, the school principal. Dressed in a grey suit and fedora, a tall thin man that reminded me, vaguely of, Ediola Manzkenstein, my father’s best friend. I was not as alarmed as my three adversaries. However, we were all commanded to report to the office first thing Monday morning, for discipline.
I did not take Mr. Pybus seriously. After all, he looked like my father’s friend. So, I did not report to the office on Monday and I don’t believe the others did either. Being old, Mr. Pybus very likely forgot about the incident come the start of a new week. Ronnie and I became good friends after that.
Years later I discovered the best way to avoid getting into a drawn-out, protracted wrestling match, with an adversary, is to quickly punch your opponent in the nose before he is ready. The eyes water, the vision blurs, sometimes the nose bleeds and the fight is over before it starts.
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