I was with a buddy the other day cruising south on the 101 from Salinas to KC and as we reached the first exit into Greenfield, I looked westward at the business on the corner of ECR and Thorne Road and remembered one of those stories that are so abundant when one reaches seven decades.
We old folks have lots of memories and some of them we do actually remember, and of those we have to decide which ones should be told and which ones need to stay deep down in the memory vault. This little story is right on the edge of being one of those that is just amusing enough to tell and being one that should remain an unrattled skeleton in my closet.
I’ll throw caution to the wind in hopes the scale tips to the humor side. We’ll see.
I was an adventuresome lad — if adventuresome is the proper word; I suppose renegade would work just as well for some people — of about 15; I recall I did not yet have a driver’s license so under 16 years for sure. At the time I was trying to be more grown up than I was, not an unnatural endeavor for many boys that age, so I occasionally hung around with, or tried to hang around with, some of the older crowd that were friends or associates of an older brother.
So it was upon one of these occasions that one summer evening, late evening, I found myself in a vehicle with three other local Greenfield boys; one, the owner of the car, was Tony, one was Jack and the other was Benny; no last names to protect the guilty (though all three are gone now). On this particular little outing, little did I know they had a plan that before the evening was over involved my participation in at least three misdemeanors and one felony.
I mentioned the car we were in belonged to Tony, a wonderful fellow but at times could be a bit of a scamp. Well it seems there was a year, make and model just like his, different color was all, parked outside at the Enco service station on the intersection mentioned above. So, we stole it.
I suppose this was done for purposes of stripping whatever was of value to be used as spare or replacements parts; great. But I went along, and it is one of those nights one does not forget. I will state here that from the time I got into Tony’s car until he let me out hours later at my parent’s house, I did not get out of the car as if that would have made any difference to a judge.
There was a chain connected to the front of the victim vehicle and as we began to tow it, with one person in it to steer, I thought about how we were going to get it to, I supposed where Tony lived, which was on the east end of Hudson Avenue, next to the Salinas River. To get over the Thorne Road overcrossing and onto 101 North the mile or so to Hudson and not get seen by anyone was a scary idea.
That worry was erased, and others took its place when we turned west on Thorne, toward the Arroyo Seco River; now what? We got to the place on that road where it drops off the east side of the Bench and made a hard right turn toward where, I should have known, Benny and his family lived (you remember Benny, he was now steering the purloined auto), but we did not stop there.
We proceeded, exceedingly slowly for my taste, east on Hudson then to the 101 where we, with my breath held, crossed it where, I hoped, we would go to Tony’s place. But no, we turned a hard right and drove south along a field road, which at that time was separated from the freeway by a eucalyptus tree row.
This was a bad place to pull out tools and start stripping a vehicle was what I was thinking when Tony got into the stolen car, took the rear bench seat out and tossed it into the trunk of his car, undid the chain and we started to leave. I couldn’t believe it. We committed grand theft auto, trespassing, possession of stolen goods, transporting stolen goods and who knows what all else for a seat that could have been taken while still parked at the Enco. And that wasn’t the end of the madness.
Instead of taking the seat directly to his place, about a half mile away on a deserted road (it was around midnight by this time) he took Benny home, via Hudson again, and then, with the stupid seat sticking out of an open trunk, he took a route over Thorne Road overcrossing and headed south along the freeway on a field road to Pine Avenue, then east to Third Street and then to Jack’s place, some three houses south of Oak Avenue in town.
When we dropped Jack off, I scrunched down in the back seat so his sister, a classmate since kindergarten, wouldn’t inadvertently see me. Tony then drove Oak across town to Ninth Street and dropped me off. When I got out of the car I mentioned that he could have had the seat without all the other stuff involved. He looked at me with that winning smile of his and said, “Where’s the fun in that, ay?” Where indeed.
I went down to the KC Rec Center, where from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. there is a free luncheon for those over the age of 60, held the first Thursday of every month. I ventured down there not to eat but just to see what was what. It is a very nice little setting with a wholesome lunch and wholesome music. If you qualify, check it out.
Take care. Peace.