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Center Street Reflections

I've driven back to Waterloo (my hometown) countless times in the last thirty-seven+ years, but only once or twice I have driven down Center Street as I did yesterday.

As  you come into the village headed south on Route 96, you take a right onto Center Street.  One of the very first landmarks you pass is the high school where each of us Lincoln kids graduated.  The building has changed dramatically since we all graduated, but it's halls are still filled with many, many memories.

The second landmark (at least for me) is the house where my best friend, Mark Dunn, and his family lived.  No other house in Waterloo, except for the house on Elisha Street (where we lived and where Tim and SueAnn now live), holds the same meaning for me.  I met Mark early in my freshman year in Waterloo.  I sat behind him in Mrs. Roenke's World History class.  When she call my name for attendance, he whipped around and said, "Abe Lincoln!?"  I looked at him and smiled, and just acknowledged to Mrs. Roenke that I was present.

We became enduring friends later in high school when we played varsity basketball together for his dad, John Dunn, so needless to say, I spent a great deal of time at his house.  Sleepovers in the barn in the summer and team breakfasts on Saturday mornings during the season. Pancakes and bacon 'til you couldn't move and then hanging in the living room until Soul Train finished, and then we were sent on our way so Mrs. Dunn could clean up after 'all her boys!"

Center Street is also the place of my first run in with the law.  It was our junior year in high school, and we had just barely made the sectionals.  Tradition held that the team spent the night at Coach Dunn's house before a sectional game.  Part of the reason behind that was to team building; the other part was to keep an eye on the team members so no one got in trouble.

Keep in mind, this is 1974, and one of the big songs that year was released by Ray Stevens...titled "The Streak."  And when  you get a dozen or so young men all wound up late at night, devious thoughts begin to brew.  Someone...and it's a mystery who...decided that it would be a good idea for all of us to streak up and down Center Street.  Of course, no one was going to deny that it was a good idea, so we did.  Sprinted up and down Center Street with "nothing on but a smile!"  For more of Ray Stevens classic lyrics, click here.

Within minutes, the town cop car (maybe the only one; maybe one of two town cop cars) showed up with lights flashing (no pun intended)!  After a few minutes of questioning, out of the house came Mr. Dunn who calmed the situation with the police, and ushered us all back into the house.  I don't recall, but I think Mr. Dunn was somewhat amused at our escapades because I don't recall any of us being punished.  Maybe there were some additional 'suicides' at practice the next day.

Speaking of punishment, Center Street was also the street where my first girlfriend lived.  My curfew was midnight, and her home was about five or six blocks from our home on Elisha Street.  One night, I left her house exactly at midnight, and knew that mom and dad would be waiting for me to get home.  I sprinted home trying to figure out how to explain being late and avoid the ensuing punishment. Then I got a brilliant idea (much like the streaking idea!?)...I'll set my watch back 15 minutes, and use that as my excuse for being late.

In this case, punishment was not to be avoided.  Neither mom or dad bought the failed chronograph argument!?  I am sure that I was grounded or something...I don't recall...(probably blocked it from my memory).  I do know that I was probably never late again.  So the lesson in this modest reflection is that you can probably mess with the small town cops...but you never messed with mom and dad!!!!

This post first appeared on Postcards From Midlife, please read the originial post: here

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Center Street Reflections


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