Suburban living was well established by the mid-twentieth century and provided young parents with an opportunity to raise children in newly created secure neighborhoods. In 1950 marriage vows were respected and the vast majority of married couples stayed together for life. Unfortunately, there were a few marriages not "made in heaven" and polite suburban society referred to them as "dysfunctional." It is at this point dear reader that we begin a bouncy ride through the 1950s as seen through the eyes of young boys from single-parent homes.
A rare breed in 1950, there were only seven of us attending the local grammar school. The old saying "birds of a feather flock together" best describes how we found each other; then out of necessity morphed into a highly functional family unit. Anything the biological family could not provide was readily available from your "brother from another mother". Love is a tired word; we enjoyed each other's company, counseled each other, and protected one another.
The solution to any teenage problem could be found at the next card game or drunk-a-thon. The guys pooled information regarding first dates, how to kiss and purchase your first car. Since weekly allowance was never an option; burgers and fries were purchased with profits gleaned from our playground gambling ring and bootlegging operations. Too young to prosecute other part-time career opportunities became available and we robbed trains, delivered "special groceries in Harlem," plain brown envelopes to local authorities, formed a profitable rock and roll band then ventured into midnight discounts and warehouse hush money. Some of us even researched becoming a missionary or a monk.
Without resources to attend college, our little family was devastated by a perfect storm called the Vietnam Conflict. Alone again each of us selected the military branch and method by which he would fight and suffered the consequences. The family dies here but not the story.
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