Jack’s Mid-Missouri Memory: Alley Rats
Alley Rats may seem like a derogatory title, but when I was a kid there were a lot of us who wore that title if not proudly, at least accurately. In those days when everyone but country kids walked to school we used the alleys, the tracks, and the sidewalks to get to school, or downtown. The world looked different when you looked at the rear of sheds, and back porches in the neighborhoods. The difference now is a lot of those old sheds and garages are gone or replaced with newer buildings, Since I no longer walk the alleys of Sedalia the only place I can see buildings like my friends and I walked by as kids is in the movies, or old magazines. There are scenes in one of my favorite Christmas movies that takes me back to those days. Ralphie and his friends in the movie “A Christmas Story” used the alleys in the same manner that the McCoy boys, Donnie Harbit, John Riley, Bob Sublett and I did back then. There were dangers in those alleys, and I recall dodging bullies and bulldogs in those days. The bulldogs were those English Bulldogs with the teeth that show even when their mouths are closed, and I can vouch for the fact that they are sharp too. The biting incident took place one morning as one of my friends and I was on our way to school, and was behind another group of kids using the same alley between 5th and 6th street. We knew a man who had a shed on the alley always kept his pair of English Bulldogs locked up inside when they weren’t in his house. The dogs must have been growling at the group in front of us because they started beating on the door that came out onto the alley before moving on towards school. The problem was the man thinking he would teach them a lesson let the dogs out just as my friend and I reached the shed. It was a scary situation for us young boys seeing those two dogs filled with fury coming at us, and we climbed the fence on the other side of the alley pretty quick. I was not quite fast enough however, and one of the dogs shredded one of my pant legs. As I recall my mother was not too pleased, and neither were the police who must have given the dog owner quite a talking to, because the dogs were never in that shed when kids walked past after that. I do recall mom telling me not to walk in the alley anymore, but I’ll bet she knew I broke that promise almost immediately, after all the alleys were always more interesting than the street. As I said I don’t walk the alleys anymore, but I am looking forward to seeing that alley scene again when I watch ”A Christmas Story “ this year.