It was a steep hill. As the garbage truck moved down the street, of course it had to stop every couple of houses as the collectors went into the backyard of each house to empty garbage cans into their carriers to take the garbage back to the truck. Yes, it was long ago, before the plastic containers on wheels that residents now put on the sidewalk where they can be lifted to be dumped into the truck. It was a very hard job, with lots of walking and carrying and lifting. And moving the truck every couple houses.
A childhood memory for me is the day the garbage truck rolled down the street, made a slight turn on the way down, and collided into the detached garage for the last house, the one on the corner, right before the intersection with the busy street, which is a good thing because it likely would have hit one or more cars, hurting or killing someone. Instead, our neighbor lost his garage. It was flattened. The garage was empty. The garbage truck had no driver or occupants. So no one was hurt despite tremendous property damage.
We heard the crash while eating breakfast. Fortunately for me, I was wearing my pajamas that looked like a baseball uniform. Therefore, I went outside with confidence. No need to put on clothes. Everyone would think I was wearing a baseball uniform. As you can imagine, a crowd had gathered. I was a late arrival to the scene because we lived near the top of the hill.
The people of the neighborhood gawked at the destruction. We guessed that the brakes of the truck were not properly set. Those of us who were experts at operating garbage trucks knew the cause.
Then, while I was seemingly fitting into the crowd as one of the cool kids, Mary Perchau ruined it for me.
“Hey,” she exclaimed, “You are wearing pajamas! Look everybody, Al did not even get dressed.”
Have you read the story about The Emperor’s New Clothes? I was in a role similar to that of the emperor.
That darn Mary! I tried to explain that my garment could be used either as sleeping apparel or as sportswear. Obviously, it looked just like a baseball uniform. I was not yet old enough for Little League, but I was prepared.
Mary was probably unaware of my destiny. Perhaps I had not yet told her that my Uncle Luke had been a Major League pitcher for the Cardinals. She did not understand that ballplayers such as myself did not dress like those merely in the general public, such as Mary herself, who undoubtedly lacked my intimate connection to Major League Baseball.