Death From The Sky

July1965. Saint Louis Park, Minnesota.


The green spaces of our fenceless backyards are endless. The kickball game at Doug Kaufman’s stops abruptly as Marvin Yablonski receives the heavy rubber ball square in the nuts. He goes down on his knees and bawls like an infant as the rest of us laugh without shame or pity in the late afternoon sun.

And now over the Kaufman’s gargantuan oak, comes what at first appears to be a foreboding black thundercloud. Strange to us all because there’s not the scent of rain or the darkening sky that always precedes a menacing storm. But as it rises and looms above us, the cloud reveals itself to be something else entirely.

We boys become suddenly serious. There is a terrible spaceship plated with massive iron scales flying directly overhead.

There are no parents here to tell us what to do or where to run and propelled by mortal fear, we race breathless through the backyards; so sure our deaths are imminent that even Marvin Yablonski gets up off his knees and begins his mad girlie-run for safety.

The spaceship drifts overhead and with great malice, tracks and follows us. Grotesque aliens at the ship’s helm are preparing to fire their lasers at our tender hides and yet, in the midst of our sheer terror comes quite unexpectedly, the exquisite sensation of pure elation. All of us ballplayers running, laughing, full of adrenaline stoked fear -certain that we will be blasted out of our Keds in an instant by Martian x-rays, are as giddy now as at any point in our short lives.

Soon we’re lying on our backs, panting, as the spaceship drifts safely past. None of us can read, but Marvin recognizes two words printed in huge block letters on the side of the ship:

Good and Year.

Though their meaning is unclear, cheating death on a summer afternoon with your friends is easily understood -as the best time of all.


3 thoughts on “Death From The Sky

  1. Woe befall the entire neighborhood for weeks after the McGuire sisters saw a movie musical like “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.”

    ENDLESS productions. I designed sets on the grass with the clippings. Everyone had a part.

  2. This reminds me so much of growing up in Fridley in the late 60’s/70’s. We’d come home only to eat, then dash out again for kick-the-can till the neighborhood moms began yodeling the names of their broods while hanging out doors backlit by the flickering blue light of the television. (Leaving the Catholic moms breathless.) Or, if there was no response the first time, a father’s booming voice! Game over. Good times.

  3. You took me back in time to my own coming-of-age-or-what-resembles-it in St. Louis during the 60s and 70s. Thanks for putting me, for a moment anyway, into one of the few pleasant memories.

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