The Misadventures of Grape and Steve

Excerpts from the latest book by Gregg Condon, “The Misadventures of Grape and Steve; “Stories of childhood; suitable for adults only.” The book features recollections of growing up in Brodhead by Condon and Steve Saunders.

STICK WITH ME! Raining cats and dogs. Man, what a dark day! Incessant downpour. Raining just as hard as it can rain. A lot of kids are going to get soaked on the walk home from school. Very few moms would be showing up with a car–everybody walked, and parents didn’t own their kids’ transportation problems. Besides, almost no families had two cars; and dad would have the family car at work.

A shoulder-to-shoulder throng of munchkins crowds the cloak room. Yes, it was a cloak room, even though we wore coats. And Roger Ames whispers, “Stick with me!” I couldn’t imagine what was up, but I was game. We emerged into the frigid autumn monsoon. Yikes, it was a terrible day. And there at curbside was the city’s only police car! We made a quick dash and soon were enjoying its dry confines.

Officer Ames took us to the police station. He locked us in the jail cell, and we laughed our butts off. He showed us the gun rack full of real guns. He opened the door to the firehouse and for a long delightful hour we had unsupervised play all over those wonderful machines.

Chip Ames was the perfect smalltown cop. The Fifties were golden. Brodhead was “Mayberry.” If there was a prototype for Andy Griffith’s sheriff character, Chip Ames was it. From all I ever saw of him, he was the ideal dad, too. Jeez, I respected that man!

CHIP AMES Roger Ames–Amo–and I were at Ames’ house. We were making ready for an eight-mile round trip on our bikes to a certain pond out past the lake at Decatur. We were going to shoot frogs, and I was packin’ my trusty pellet pistol. Amo had a BB gun.

Chip Ames was our hometown cop, and I wasn’t sure what he’d say about a Sixth Grader ridin’ his bike down the road whilst carryin’ a handgun. I didn’t have long to wait. Says he, “You think you’re going to ride a bike eight miles carrying a pistol?” “Yeah,” I tentatively replied. “Well here,” said the good officer, “let me get you a holster.” He fetched several, and we tried ‘em on for size till we found one that would best fit my gun.

By golly, there was no prouder boy in all of Green County than I was that morning, ridin’ my bike and packin’ my piece in a real police officer’s holster!

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