Memorial Day – It Changed Me Forever

Personal History on this day, 25 MAY 1981. It was a moderate temperature day, very similar to today, starting in the 60’s and warming up near 80F by peak. The […]
May 25, 2016
Personal History on this day, 25 MAY 1981.
It was a moderate temperature day, very similar to today, starting in the 60’s and warming up near 80F by peak. The Detroit Tigers were being hosted at Milwaukee Stadium, they would go on to win 12-3 against the  Brewers.
My day started before dawn, which is usually does, but today was different for it would be my first day as a stocker and cleaner at Jane’s Corner, a local bar called Jane’s Corner, on the corner of 6th and Hayes, which is now called Zicaru Gourmet. It was an old building built sometime in the 1920’s and part of the South side Pool League, which dad was a part of. It was also the place I was gifted 2 thirty something females on my 15th birthday that had arranged for me and they made it very memorable for me.
The predawn run with dad was unusually quiet, in the heavy morning air. As we round the Allis Charmers clock he spoke his first words to me that day. “I will miss you at the game. You belong in school not working.” I did not respond, as I had won the bet just 3 days before, he had no choice but to let me have the job and drop out of school. I knew was still mad at himself for taking the bet, I felt remorse.
Dad and I had an argument that Friday over me not going to school. I told him I was going to work, so I could help with the bills, for I overheard him talking with Cindy, his live-in girl friend 30 yrs his junior, just the week before. His job as a custodian at UWM and bartending at night was just enough to make ends meet. It was hard to defy my dad, but the drained look in his eyes made it a little more easier. During the conversation, he said ” This is my house! My responsibility as you are. If you think you are man then prove it. We will wrestle and if I pin you, your ass is going back to school, if you pin me you can take the job.” Several minutes later, as dad laid on the floor with his shoulders pinned, fury was in his eyes and I jumped up fast. “You will never pay my bills, the day I can’t is the day I die!” He didn’t say a word to me after that and I would have to wait until the morning run on Monday, before I heard another word from him to me. Even the ‘good night hug and kiss’ was silent. He was crushed, this man whom served in 3 wars, never lost a fight and yet somehow, this boy.
So, the run ended with no more words spoke between us. I showered and got dressed then headed off to Jane’s Corner. Jane was happy to see me, the mid 50s woman always had a smile. She asked me if anything was wrong, so I told her. She told me that he will be fine promptly escorted me into the cellar and showed me around and how to use the old lift for deliveries and how to setup the kegs. An hour later, the bar was set and ready for business. Jane made me eggs and toast for breakfast. I felt accomplished and this job would be just fine for me. 7am, the open sign came on and a few minutes later the regular morning pair of elderly gentlemen took their seats at the bar. Jane told me, I could go home and come back by 11.
Back at home, my little brother and sister was playing as usual, Cindy, my dads girl friend, had walked out of the bathroom with a towel around her. “Your father went to get gas and things for the game, such shame you won’t be there.” She handed me her hair brush, which was normal, as I brushed out her hair all the time, as well my sisters. 100 strokes. When sober, Cindy always looked at me as just a servant, drunk, she was always a tramp. Sometimes, I felt bad for not letting her have what she asked, it would have saved many an arguments about her and other guys, but I had a girl friend, Jennifer, and Cindy was my dad’s. Dad walked in a few minutes later, “We leave in a half hour.”
11am we all went up to Jane’s, it was just down and around the corner from our polish from on 5th Place and and Hayes. Cindy and dad played a few games of pool, had a few beers, while my brother and sister played in the back on the floor. Jane had asked for a case of PBR bottles, so I went down to get it. When I came back up, dad had left. Cindy was still playing pool and asked if wanted to pay a game. We finished our game and she went to the payphone. I sat on stool just gazing around, then Elizabeth came in ( one of my birthday gifts) and walked over with her cue stick case and gave me a hug. I heard Cindy’s voice raise and I looked over, she had hung up the phone. She sat there with her head down and suddenly, I felt like something was very wrong. I walked over to her and asked “What’s wrong?” She looked up with her head still slightly down as tears rolled down her face. An overwhelming feeling of something was wrong, I raced out the door.
As I entered the driveway, leading the to entrance fo our Polish flat, I heard a noise which I have many times before on Memorial Day and out hunting, it stopped me dead in my tracks, as I looked up at our place. I started saying to myself ” No, no, no, no!’ I ran to the stairs that led the the Kitchen entrance and burst into it, stopped and looked forward into the living room, “Dad?” I saw his bedroom door slightly opened, which was in front of the flat, as I entered the living room, I could see his feet upon the bed, “Dad?”.
I ran to the bedroom and as the door flung open, the surreal scene taking place in front of me had change my entire being from fear to panic. He lay upon the bed with his .32 Llama barely touching his finger tips on his right hand. A pool a blood between his pectorals was rising and falling. My hands immediately pressed hard to his chest. “Don’t your dare! How could you?”, I said. His response was calm and his eyes gazed upon me, as he pursed his lips the words that came out took any remaining panic and fear from me like thief. “You are the man of the house now, take care of them.” His eyes, I had seen this look before when my grandma died, I looked down as I lifted my hands from the blood, it was no longer moving. My girl friend had come in screaming, I told her to shut up and call the police.
Time was stopped for me, as I her her very emotionally talking to the operator, while I tried to administer CPR. I finally resided myself, slap him and then laid my head next upon his chest. Jennifer said “please don’t stop, please please.” I said nothing as I rested with him. Jennifer hung up with the dispatch and started crying loud as she ran from the house.
After a few minutes which seemed timeless, I stood up, looked upon him and said “you had no right”, then I reached across him, and picked up the .32. I walked out into the living room and sat in his favorite chair. Taking the magazine out and emptying the chamber, I place the murder weapon upon my lap and just sat back, thoughtless and closed my eyes, as I heard EMS filing in. Cindy came in with some officers, Jennifer had gone back to Jane’s and told her what happened. I could hear all the voices over lapping, but nothing was coherent. Finally, an officer was talking to me, I looked up and started to he are him. He asked me to hand him the gun, then pointed to the magazine and un-chambered round. The report was being taken as I saw the gurney being rolled passed me.
Soon my Aunt and Uncle and other family showed up, such a deafening noise. 5 days later, Woods National Cemetery would receive my father’s body as a permanent resident. I would not come back to Wood’s for another 32 yrs.
After weeks of arguing whom was going to get what, the judge declared my siblings and I was an awarded to my aunt and uncle, for the second time in my life. Being summer session, they told me I was going to go back to school in the fall. They decided my younger siblings and I would live in Lake Mills with my Aunt Doty’s daughter and her husband. That lasted a few weeks, until I returned to Milwaukee via hitchhiking and walking, in the middle of the night. Staying at various friends houses and apartments, I found a job doing shingle roofing and was making some good money.
When school started that fall, my uncle found out where I was and said I could stay IF I returned to school. I accepted and was enrolled in Washington HS to repeat the 9th grade. My foreman told me that the job was there for me, if I change my mind. The first day after Labor Day, I returned to roofing and started studying for my GED. On 27 SEP 1981 the court granted me emancipated adulthood. My uncle seemed slightly disappointed, but at the same time “He would be proud of you” seemed to fall upon a broken and remorseful heart that felt contrary. I will never know if that 15 yr old was responsible, but I do know, I did not pull that trigger.

I never returned to Jane’s Corner.

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Kenny

Christian. American. Father. Husband. Friend. Brother. Son. Grandson. Uncle. Cubs Fan. Digital.

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