We didn’t live at the Moxam apartments that long, in 1963, but there was a ton of memorable times. I told you about some already, but let me tell you about my friend Tex.
Tex wasn’t his real name, of course, but that was what his mom insisted we call him. Sometimes he wore a little red cowboy hat. He was thin and pale, with pasty white skin, kind of a frail sort and not the kind of kid that came out to play rough house much. I don’t know if I ever really saw his mom or if I just imagined her, a tall woman with long dark 1950’s hair, or if he had a dad. They lived in a basement apartment, like we did, and might have been the building caretakers. Often, when some of us were outside playing, Tex would stand out on a balcony or high up on the outside stairs, so he could look down on us playing. I think his mom didn’t want him to join in because he might break or catch something and get sick.
One time I was playing with a couple kids that didn’t live at Moxam. Tex looked down on us and said we should fight. The two kids were brothers. Their names were something like Rudy and Marvin. Rudy was in grade six and Marvin was in grade three (he was very big for a grade three kid). Rudy said I should fight Marvin. I said it wouldn’t be a fair fight, because I was in grade five, but Rudy said that Marvin could beat me because he was very strong. Tex egged us on, and Marvin just did what his big brother told him to do. So we squared off and began punching each other in the face. Marvin only lasted five or six punches to the face before he started to cry and ran away. Tex laughed and Rudy strutted off, saying next time we had to wrestle instead of box.
The next time we did wrestle instead of box. Marvin managed to get on top of me on the ground and I was pinned, like an upside down turtle with a rock on its belly and I had to give. After that we went into a back room in Tex’s apartment and Rudy showed us his dad’s Playboy magazine, so we could see what bare naked ladies looked like. Tex hid under the bed when his mom came into the room and we had to leave.
We still got to play with each other. One night, after dark, we snuck across the street and rode the elevator in the tall apartment building. We went up and down, fifteen floors. It was the highest I had ever been and might have even been the first time I was in an elevator that didn’t have an operator running it. We got caught, so we fled across the street and hid in the bushes in the big yard where the Blood House was. People lived on the lower floor and on the upper floor people would lay on beds and get needles stuck in their arms so their blood would drain out. Sometimes we watched them do it.
One time when we were playing in the Blood House yard we saw some older guys driving in a convertible car really fast. They were laughing and shouting, like they were having a party. One guy was sitting on the top of the back seat and when the car stopped all of a sudden, he got tossed over the top, like a human bullet and bounced and rolled down the road. He didn’t die but I think he was hurt and tore his clothes.
One time, playing soldiers, in the Blood House yard, at night, we saw a lady walking on the sidewalk and we decided to lob dirt clump grenades her way. When the clumps hit the sidewalk, they splattered, kind of like a grenade exploding. It was really cool. But the lady didn’t think so. She yelled at us and then called the cops. They came and gave us a talking to and escorted us home and told our parents what we had done. My dad said I wasn’t allowed to do that again. After that Tex’s mom would let him play with me.
That winter a big mountain of snow got cleared off the street and piled in an empty lot across from the Moxam. We dug a tunnel at the bottom and hung around inside it, all day long, like it was our igloo. Nobody told us that it could collapse on us and that we would probably die. Back then kids just did stuff like that. You could play outside all day and nobody came to check on you. When it was cold, you came in at lunch time and ate hot chicken haddie, which wasn’t chicken at all, it was creamed fish that you put on toast. A disappointment, if you were expecting chicken. I haven’t seen it since those days.
That Christmas I put on my mom’s red dress jacket and a toque and pretended I was Santa Claus, for my three year old Angel Monster brother. I don’t know if he was fooled, I think he just wondered what the hell I was doing. I got a sweater for Christmas that year. Brown and white vertical stripes. Buttons up the front.
The Moxam is still there. So is the Blood House, except I think it is a museum or art gallery or something like that, now. Funny how somethings change and some don’t.
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