Saturday, September 30, 2006

The Bell Gang Reunion


Today we plan to drop by the annual Bell Gang Annual Reunion.

Each year the people that lived in the poor section of Marietta near Larry Bell Park has a reunion. They were a rough bunch. And some of them grew up to have rough lives. I think for some of them a blue-collar job would be social climbing.

Once I ran into the late Orville Carruth, shortly after I saw him pick up a smoking cigarette butt up on the Square and he was telling me about the Bell Gang Reunion he attended just a week before. He told me all these names, some I remember, some I didn’t…. like John so-and-so is a roofer, but he fell off a house and broke his back and Jack so-and-so drives a cab… or Ralph so-and-so just got of prison.

Orville was a warm friendly guy who walked with a limp. He was on welfare and was a day laborer. That is where I would run into him, uptown near the Square where day laborers would gather in the morning and wait hopefully for someone in a truck to come by and offer them a job. That is what poor Orville had to do for a living. He walked with a bad limp… and he had to walk about two miles each day up to the Square to stand around hoping someone would offer him a job.

Orville told me he limped because he was stabbed by two brothers. Then, with the most innocent non-committal face he could mustard up he said those two boys were found shot dead in the woods just across the street from their father’s apartment.

Orville died last year. I went by the funeral home to pay my respects and saw a few of the old Bell Gang who warmly greeted me.

Today I am wondering what to wear. Apparently it is an outside event, and I think “dress for success” might be a bit snobbish today. Should I wear a ball cap backwards? Should I wear white socks or no socks? What kind of fashion statement should I make? Should I pat my fist into my hand like I’m ready for a good rumble or what?

Which reminds me, back then, around Larry Bell Park one guy by the name of Vernon used to pick on me all the time. He would call me names, shove me, wallop the back of my head as I walked by him… He was so hyper I thought he would make mince meat out of him if I ever gave him cause – yes, I took the coward way out. Then one time he and my friend Frankie Hunter (No relation) got into a fight. Frankie had a hot temper. Frankie whipped his ass all over the place. Which made me wonder why was I afraid of Vernon, several times in the past couple of years I have whipped Frankie with no problem – and if Frankie can beat Vernon up, then why should I be scare of Vernon? So, after that, I began to on purpose walk in front of Vernon, and sometimes even stand in front of him hoping he would wallop me again so I could wallop him back but from then on he ignored me.

So today, might be my chance to settle my score with Vernon of over 50 years ago. It will just be my luck for Vernon to have just gotten out of prison for 30 years where he worked out every day, and have strong big tattooed muscles and I remind him of his cell-mate bitch.

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