Close Encounters of the 3rd time

Not the illegal kind, the bottled kind.


Childhood friends, a sleep? over, up all night, too much time on our hands.



Most bad ideas start out with a brilliant premise, and don’t actually turn bad without a few basic ingredients.

2 perpetrators, a fair amount of egging each other on, a little daring do, the cover of darkness, and bad timing.

One of my best friends growing up on Howard Street was my buddy, Mark. We had just started 9th grade in the fall of 1963. His only year at Jennings Junior High School, and my freshman year at St. Vincent High School. Our learning wheels were barely off yet, but somehow, we knew everything. I know you all have been there, right?

TV show host known as Ghoulardi on TV 8 Cleveland  in the 60's
He put the purple in Knif

It all started when Mr. Purple Knif blew up his first model car on tv. Following this lead, we got some cherry bombs and decided we should set them off in the storm drains late after dark, to see the flash and boom, plus there was no cleanup needed. Since that we had graduated from watching the Friday night horror movies on the Ghoulardi show, and going to bed around midnight, now we were planning to stay up all night. Which brings us to pulling an all-nighter for the third time since school started. After all we were 9th graders and that made us kNOw it all's. So here we are camping out, listening to “Tie me kangaroo down, Sport” and Surfin’ USA on the transistor radio, wandering the 'hood around Howard St., from the high-level bridge to the north and down past Biddle and Newcome drug store to the south. That was our turf. Anybody jealous yet?


So here is the brilliant idea, “You know that Coca-Cola machine at the gas station?” “Yeah, what about it?”, “How about we try this?”. That is the agreeing with each other part and

building it up as the coolest thing since… well Coca-Cola.

Remember how the bottles are laying on their side, caps out, behind that narrow glass door? Yep.

What if we take a glass and a bottle opener, we simply pop the lid, and it runs into the glass. Drinks all around. Who needs quarters?

So, we gather the burglary tools, make sure our sneakers are laced up tight for a quick getaway, and head to the scene of the crime.

The perfect crime, almost. Bad timing, absolutely.

Just as we got started, a car pulls up with 2 undercover cops who were just passing by, and they saw us in the shadows. Realizing we were not great criminals, plus they could see our knees shaking, they read us the riot act, and said they would not arrest us if we promised to go straight home and tell our parents. Sort of a scared straight proposition. They said they would follow up to make sure we confessed.

We started walking home slowly to see if they followed us. They did not show up, so we stopped halfway back to Mark’s, where my house was located, and sat my front porch to decide our fate.

As the sun started to rise, we had survived the night, no sign of the cops, so we decided to tempt the fates and take our secret to the grave. No sense involving parents, or any unneeded restrictions. We did avoid that particular coke machine, and this narrow escape only emboldened our further adventures. That will be a story for another time.




If anybody can top that story for stupidity, please do. And Woody, if you see this, I am sorry for I thought it was one of our escapades.