Hanging Out In The Alley

story by: Daniel Miltz
Written on Mar 14, 2017

Hanging Out In The Alley

Dec 30, 2015 • By daniel miltz •
During my day, when I was a small kid, growing up in a precinct filled with degenerate boozers, the neighborhood drunks would crawl home from the corner bar (Joe's Place on 12th street & Eureka Ave.), where a kid like me would roll the drunk and then help him home. There were not a lot of people hanging out in the alleys in my vicinage. At one time a person could go out in the alley, sit down, read, eat or just relax. The alley behind my house where I hung out, was a stone's throw from the railroad tracks; a great urban place, complete with the requisite tires, garbage cans filled with moist gobbledy gook drivel, hogwash, swill and muck, along with mattresses, beer and whiskey bottles among the waist high tumbleweeds. The trash was always piled along both sides of the alley with a path for vehicles to pass through. The pathway of the alley was usually laid with stone gravel. Dirty coal trucks filled with lump coal would make deliveries to side doors of sheds, amidst to the barking of vicious penned-up dogs, caged by the side of a yard shanty. In my alley, these dogs would jump the fences, but most would actually climb them, using some part of the fence to push off from. Some of these wacko dogs would also dig under the fence, chew through the barrier, learn to open a gate, or use any combination of these methods to get out of the stockade when they see something unusual going on. ME-- BEING AS DAUNTING AND FEARSOME AS I AM, WOULD PURPOSELY LET SOME OF THESE CAGED ANIMALS OUT AND RUN MY ASS OFF, AS FAST AS I CAN-- TO ESCAPE THEM!

On other encounters as a small kid, I usually had scary run-ins with other aggressive dogs approaching me from nearby neighborhood alleys. It was just frustrating because no one could do anything about it. In those days, there was no dog catchers around, and the cops never responded to dog disturbances. They were too busy chasing young punks causing trouble. HMM! ...as I found out years later.

Much like my feelings towards the neighborhood I live in, this is both a blessing and a curse. The overhanging trees, shrubs, and other debris that the alley possessed, I liked it. It was my playground, where I would go and throw rocks, raid gardens, peak in windows, climb the telephone poles and carve my initials on sheds. Occasionally, I would burn some overgrown brown grass in someone's yard, and steal fruit from the trees. In fact it was a pretty clean alley, as far as alleys go.

Police would never would check my alley that I hung in. The more accessible the alley, the more likely problems may occur, especially when alcohol is added to the equation. Any signs that anyone hanging out in the alley, it can signal-- that an alley may be undesirable. However, anyone who has ever had problems living in a place because of the alley behind their house, knows that alleys can can be a tremendous annoyance. At the very least, it can be noisy and annoying to have people hanging out behind your house. Fighting is not unusual here. In the alley, drunken arguments, fights, or simply loud conversations last long into the night, as the drunks stumble home from the corner beer gardens. Winos rummaging through garbage for deposit bottles/food/things they can use. More often, they leave garbage and shit all over the side of the cans. When that would happen and I got wind of it, I would scamper to the alley, look around and fire my trusty wooden slingshot at these booze hound annoyers and scavengers. Then all hell would break loose.

Theft was really minor in the alleys, but stealing the very first ripe summer tomato-- ''really is cold, man!'' Our shed had a small door that opened into the alley and was not visible from the street, and it was broken into once, resulting in my bike getting stolen and some of my father's tools. We found out who the would be thief was, that broke into our shed --(''...it was a kid on 12th st. known as ''Jingles'' next door to old man Zimmer's house. Zimmer who hated us no doubt, told the kid to steal my bike in ret·ri·bu·tion to me accidently burning down his barn the year before. That's the time, when Zimmer came over and spouted shit about me, and my old man chased him down the alley with a pipe wrench...'') --and my dad and I went to their house and confronted the shed robbing punk. After a lenghty argument back and forth, I started fighting with this smart ass kid, and my old man and his old man yelling at each other. And to my amazement, -OMG! I can't believe Dad just cold cocked the bastard asshole. After that, dad told me to go home. I waited on the steps. Half hour later, he came back home with my bike and his tools. I was in AWE!... I asked him about what went down after I left, and he said, ''Forget about it." And afterwards, we went into the alley and played catch with his old Knute Rockne All American football.

In spite of the punks, and the occasional loud scooters racing down the alley, my dad-- later installed a fence around the shed for privacy and an eye latch hook on the inside rear door. Never had a problem again. OH.!! . and I got a pellet gun, and a bow and arrow from Chet's Hardware.

Here are some warning signs of a "bad" alley: whatever; it can be intimidating to walk past people in the alley, especially at night or when you are alone. In general, it is probably best to avoid walking into an alley during those times. When some of my neighbors would park behind their house via the alley, often times it was hard to avoid finding themselves in uncomfortable situations. Hoodlums, rubbernecking and gawking in my neighborhood would always find ways of causing trouble. I would try to keep my alley safe. If I saw these hoodlums loitering around, I would go make a 'molotov cocktail' (poor man's grenade) and secretly sneak up on them from a distance and throw it their way. That got them the hell out of there. And afterwards, by word of mouth, it kept the riff-raff down.

Kids from 12th street and other adjoining streets would use the 13th street alley as a shortcut crossing through someone's yard to the street, which is pretty bold since it's clear you're trespassing. Kids didn't care, like me --I would always run through someone's yard on my way 'through the breeze.' Some of the neighbors didn't like it. A few would come out and chase you, and in return, all you had to do is throw a rock at them, and they would retreat back to their drunken den to continue beating their kids. And in return, I would go back and ''HANG OUT IN THE ALLEY.!!''



Tags: beat, deep, scary, dark, imagery,

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Maria Williams commented:
Scary stuff you speak of, but looking at things through the eyes of a child, where everything was wondrous, you survived to become the person you are today. A wonderful poet.


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