Brawl on Summit Avenue

December 7, 2010 at 5:05 am (Uncategorized)

This must have happened during the summer of 1958, shortly after my freshman year in high school. I was a skinny 15 year-old at the time. It was a Friday evening, just around dusk, and I was sitting on the front porch of our house on Summit Avenue. Uncle Ralph had stopped by and was talking with my father and Grandpa Bevilacqua out on the sidewalk by the curb.

Suddenly a car full of boys who appeared to be in their late teens or early twenties came hurtling down the street. As they passed, my grandfather called out, “Slow down!”

The car squealed to a halt, then backed up slowly and stopped in front of our house. Out piled five arrogant young men who had taken exception to the remark. They said something rude, one thing led to another, and before long punches began to fly.

When I saw that, I jumped up, dashed out into the fray throwing wild haymakers… and promptly got my ass kicked! One of our adversaries put me in a headlock where we “danced” harmlessly for several minutes. From there I had a good view of the rest of the fight taking place under a streetlight.

Uncle Ralph had one of the troublemakers by the collar and was lining him up for a kayo when my father swooped in, knocked the guy for a loop, and continued on to belt someone else. Grandpa Bevy had already landed a heavy shot on another kid, who was now half-prone in the bushes. They made quick work of the opposition, except for the one who was fortunate enough to be tangled with me. When he saw all his friends taking such a beating, he let me go and raced for the car, his battered buddies in close pursuit. They burned rubber pulling away, screeched around the corner, and that was the last we saw of them. The whole incident had lasted only two or three minutes.

By this time my grandmother Elvira (we called her “Nonnie”), having heard the ruckus had come out onto the porch holding a dishtowel and exclaiming, “OOOH! OOOH!” It turned out that I was the only one in the family who had suffered any damage: two cauliflower ears and a slightly puffed lip. Nonnie fussed over me with some ice cubes in a towel to help keep the swelling down. I was kind of embarrassed about having lost my share of the fight, but for some reason everyone except my grandmother just laughed and treated me like I had won the heavyweight boxing crown. I’m sure Nonnie wasn’t too happy about her family getting into a street brawl, but she never said anything critical of us.

Even I had to smile eventually. That fight was the talk of the block for weeks to come. And I can assure you the version of the story I told my friends had me really kicking the hell out of that entire bunch by myself!

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