I can’t say for certain that Y Indian Guides made me any closer to my father. It did give us some shared experiences. At age 7 I was able to see my father use his amazing creative abilities. For examle, he taught me how to use the drill press so that we could put an actual Indian-style arrow complete with flint arrowhead through the head of our eagle totem.
More than anything else, Y Indian Guides made me want to become a real Indian. I longed to roam the plains in search of buffalo. Unfortunately my territory was limited to 77th on the north, 80th street on the south, Cowan Avenue on the east and McConnell Avenue on the west. On school days there was a seven block march to school. On alternate weekends I rode my Huffy the same distance to get my hair cut (Regular Boy’s), read the latest issue of the Green Lantern and then sneak into Shopper’s Mart to buy a nickel’s worth of Monster Cards. I have a hazy memory of taking the bus alone down South Sepulvada but I can’t recall the destination.
My greatest adventure was when Stewie persuaded me to follow rabbit trails with him in the hills above Bluff Creek Drive, the back lot above Hughes Aircraft. Stewie convinced me that it would be a fine thing to throw rocks down the hill at the cars in the Hughes parking lot.
We were captured by Hughes Security. Stewie was handed over to his parents and I, for whatever reason, was allowed to go free. Perhaps the security guard could sense that I would have been murdered if my father ever found out what I had done.
At the tender age of 7 I began learning the skills a man needs to survive the Suburban Frontier. Don’t talk to strangers. Look both ways before crossing the street. Stand up to bullies. Always tip the barber.
I don’t know if kids these days are being coddled or not. It’s stunning that a woman earns the title “America’s Worst Mom” because she let her 9 year old son (that’s 4th grade) ride the subway home from the mall. Personally I think you might want to reserve that title for a mother who drives her children off the levee. But maybe I’m just old-fashioned that way.