Vulnerability

As a teen in the sixties there was a sense of impending liberation. I was only 18 but going to bars with my friends. I had fake ID to get me in. I would order a 7&7 and sip it slowly. Alcohol did not appeal to at that time.

My time beyond the limits of my imprisonment at 1318 Pittston Avenue was quite wonderful. Like Alice in Wonderland, I wished I had the ability to shrink or grow as easily as she would extend or contract like a telescope. I tried to shrink at home and hide from the insanity of a violent alcoholic environment. But once I stepped outside those doors, my curious spirit would magically reappear.

I loved nature. My brother Joe and I spent many hours building forts on the wooded hill by our house. We frolicked and played hide and seek in the usually empty cemetery nearby.

I enjoyed dancing. I implored my parents for tap dancing lessons or piano lessons. They said we can’t afford it. They also gave each other a look that hinted at their disdain for something as impractical as the arts.

I appreciated learning. The universe provided a library right across the street. How fortuitous! I devoured every book I could get my hands on while listening to records in my room.

While exploring the world outside my bedroom, I took some risks. I did not they were risky actions at the time. Teenagers have not yet got a fully developed frontal and prefrontal cortex and are more likely to engage in other risky behaviors.

My risks were not sex, drugs or alcohol. I would walk everywhere alone, never thinking about abduction or anything bad happening. My girlfriend and I would hitchhike to get to some of the dance places.

One night I went to a bar downtown with my friend Arlene. We both had a fake ID. We went to this place called the Cheetah lounge. The doorman barely glanced at my fake ID. I had one drink. Around midnight Arlene and I left and began to walk home. A boy I knew named Billy Cerra asked if he could walk us home. I said we're good, we don't need you to do that. He was from the west side of town. He insisted that he walk us home. We got to Arlene’s house first. I said Goodnight to her. My house was maybe four more blocks. When we got to Brook Street, which was a very steep hill, he said, “Oh, let's run down this hill. It will be fun.” He grabbed my hand and next thing I knew we're running down the hill. You can't stop running once you start, it's just that steep of a hill. He held my hand tightly. When we got to the end of the hill, there was an alley that went behind my house. As soon as we entered that alley, he punched me in the face. There were rocks on the ground. He picked one up and held it over my head. He said scream and I will kill you. I have never been so terrified in my life. Somehow, I had the presence of mind to say, “My Dad’s garage is right in the middle of the alley. Why don't we just go inside the garage instead of doing this outside”? He pulled me up and we began to walk towards my garage. He still had the rock in his hand. Suddenly he stopped and said, "You are trying to trick me." My basic instincts just took over. Suddenly everything went black and I was screaming. It just occurred organically. I didn't tell myself to scream. I just started to scream. The neighbors put their heads out the window and two of them came outside. These two men started to chase him. Unfortunately, they did not catch him. Mercifully, I was not raped. It still was a very traumatic night.


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