by Jim McLaughlin
When I was a teenage boy in Tonawanda, a scary episode that I will always remember happened on Beggars Night—the night before Halloween night. Me and my friends would go out both nights (you could do that then) and collect as many bags of candy as we could bring home.
Towards the end of Beggars Night and after dropping off our hoard of sweets at home, we went out into the night. There were several gangs of kids (gangs were just groups back then) gathering at the corner of Cambridge and Wendel Avenue. We headed directly to the intersection to see what was up as there seemed to be a commotion of kids stirring.
Upon arriving, there was one older teenager who was holding court among those present who I immediately recognized. He will be known here as the Ghoul. Sometime recently before that Beggars Night, I was guilty of having thrown a rotten apple from an adjoining backyard that splattered unto an automobile owned by a relative of the Ghoul. As soon as I saw him, I wished I would have stayed home safe with my candy.
To my utter horror, as we approached the Ghoul and his large friends, he said “Has anyone seen a kid named McLaughlin? I’m gonna beat the shit outta him.”
How did the Ghoul know my name? Dammit, my so-called friend Vince (my accomplice that fateful rotten apple night and the Ghoul’s next door neighbor) must have blown me in earlier to save his own skin and not told me about it! I felt sick to my stomach. How was I gonna get away now. There was no apparent escape.
But wait! The Ghoul only knew my last name and had no idea what I looked like. It was then that I remembered I had my Lincoln Park Lions football jersey on, with my name written across the back of my shoulders. Even though I was facing the Ghoul and his cohorts and they could not see my name on the back of my jersey, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up in complete fear!
The Ghoul said, “If anyone sees this McLaughlin kid, tell me, ’cause I wanna know.”
Surely the Ghoul and his entourage would soon leave, and I could slowly walk away sideways to freedom. My getting away seemed imminent when all of a sudden Paul Graver, a so-called friend of a so-called friend, yelled “There’s McLaughlin right there!”
The jig was up as I had been fingered by someone who had nothing to gain from my apprehension, and my body thrown physically down to the ground where the Ghoul stood over me, punching me with about eight or 10 hard body blows until he had his revenge. My begging had gone for naught that dreadful Beggars Night.blog comments powered by Disqus
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