life and times
hiram who
birth of the auto
border cities
sports heritage

Saving Patti

by Tom Pare

Also in the Frigid Tales Series:

All About Kids and Snow
Breaking the Ice

Usually, when a guy is about six years old and active in a neighbourhood gang, he robs trains or fights bandits and hostile Indians. But in the winter of 1939, Tommy put these things on the back burner for one day when he slipped into the new role of “hero.”

Now this wasn’t planned and in fact it wasn’t the funniest thing to do on that cold slushy day. But as it turned out, he enjoyed the attention. Especially, the admiration from the rest of the Janette Avenue Gang.

That morning, when Tommy got ready to go out in the snow and street slush to meet Punky and throw snowballs at the milkman’s horse, he tried to sneak out wearing his good shoes. Mom caught him and announced that he was going nowhere without his galoshes – the ones with the snap-up buttons.

He hated those things because none of the other guys wore them. Punky’s mom had bought him a pair of high-top boots with a place for a jackknife on the side, and his dad coated them with some waterproof stuff so that he didn’t have to cover them up with galoshes or rubbers.

Punky was already outside chucking snowballs at crabby old man Gormley’s house when Tommy came down the porch wearing his snap-up button galoshes.

The Purity Dairy milkman would be coming down the street soon. The two boys started stockpiling snowballs at the side of the house, from where they could escape to the alley if necessary, or in case stupid Donny Schalcraft came out and they could really “wap” him.


Tommy went out front to see if the Purity horse was coming; he heard someone calling to him.

"Tommy, Tommy, I’m coming over to play with you," called out his cousin Patti.“Mom said you would have to watch me for awhile.”

The boy thought about this for a moment and then realized that she would make a perfect guard for the snowballs and could also be on the lookout for Donny Schalcraft.

“Okay, Patti. Come on over,” he yelled back.

On second thought, he decided to go over and get her, since he was supposed to watch her for awhile. Tommy crossed Janette Avenue, took Patti by the hand, and started back towards his house and the snowballs.

Suddenly there was a loud noise and a car horn honking at them. A man had lost control of his car and was now coming straight toward them. At the last minute, Tommy pushed his cousin out of the way and he was run over himself.

That was the last thing he remembered until he woke up in the hospital with mom and Patti’s mom holding his hand.

Patti was there too and looked very scared, as if she had caused whatever happened. The hospital people gave him ice cream and ginger ale and the doctor showed him his bruised feet which now had the imprint of his snap-up galoshes buttons right on his insteps. There were five of them on each foot and he kinda hoped they would never go away.

Back home he was a hero to cousin Patti, his family, her family, and most of all, the Janette Avenue Gang who all came over to see his wounded feet, which were now real badges of honour.

“Wow! Tommy, doesn’t it hurt a lot?’ asked Eugene Bardwell.

“Nah,” said Tommy. “The doctors said I hardly even cried.”

Punky asked if he could just touch one of the impressions and Tommy let them all feel his feet. Patti was especially proud of his feet marks. She kinda stood there and beamed every time someone mentioned that it was her life that was saved.

After a week or so, the marks went away as did the attention, so Tommy developed a slight limp, which was easily explained to all who asked what was wrong with his legs. It was his first experience with fleeting fame.

Also in the Frigid Tales Series:

All About Kids and the Snow
Breaking the Ice



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