I Had Jelly on My Nose and A Hole in My Breeches: The Memoir of A Boy on His Dangerous Journey

Written by Robert McNally

This is the memoir of a modern day Huckleberry Finn who delighted in youthful romances and wild adventures. His earliest memories are about living next door to a crematory and across the street from a cemetery on top of a hill during the Great Depression. This was perfectly normal to a child who had yet to reach the age of four. For an older child this God-forsaken region might have seemed frightening, especially when witnessing the daily wanderings of Gypsies, beggars and hobos. For this youngster these characters were a sight for sore eyes.
Daylight hours were fun for the author. The evenings were dead quiet except for the occasional sound of a passing vehicle. Scary was when his mother whispered, “Someone is outside snooping around” when automobiles stopped at the curb in front of the house.
After living in this unforgettable area for at least two years, the President of the crematory, who happened to be the author’s great aunt, decided to replace their home with a chapel. Sadly for the youngster he and his family had to move away. After two relocations the family moved back to Bridgeport, Connecticut, where the author was born.
The boy was now five. There were no children to play with so he had to settle for grown-up passersby who stopped to speak with him. His favorites were the inmates of the county jail situated across the street. They were well behaved convicts who, when they were allowed outside the jail walls on Sunday mornings, gave a cheery greeting to the youngster. They became his best friends.
Before long his grandmother died, her house was sold and the boy and his family headed for Ridgewood, New York. The author was now six and had to transfer to a new school. An unfortunate incident occurred on registration day which made the principal decide to place the boy in the first grade where he would begin school all over. He lost an entire year. Within a short time he was punished both physically and emotionally and when he did graduate grammar school he was all of sixteen years and three months. Pretty old, but a story worth reading about.
What made up for an unpleasant school life was falling in love with three girls before he reached the age of ten. When the last one moved away another delight came his way. It was the discovery of a railroad yard that was two long blocks from his home. He was soon hopping rides on freight cars and crossing the tracks to a field where he captured garter snakes. Then something else caught his eye. In the insurance industry it would be known as an attractive nuisance. To the author it was Paradise. A fenced in trolley yard. Barbed wire could not keep him or his friends out. They hooked the trolley cars to the overhead electrical wires which put the power on and they drove them back and forth to their hearts’ content.
Before reaching eleven he fell in love for the fourth time. Falling in love was the greatest joy in his life. School was not a good substitute for this desire, especially because of the beatings the teachers gave him. Bullies didn’t bother him because he saw right through these weaklings and they knew it. They steered clear of him. On the other hand, he had to watch out for knife wielding and hatchet throwing “crazies.” Worse still was World War II which put fear into most everyone. The war also brought him some fun. Air raid drills and blackouts were exciting, as was tracking down Nazi spies. The author’s sister Judy and he discovered one living in their apartment building. Before long spies were popping up all over Ridgewood.
The author has many interesting stories about the 1930’s and 40’s. For instance, one evening in 1945 he and his friends built a fire in a parking lot. The next day they returned to the area only to discover something terrible and startling in the burned out fire.
The adventures are exciting, humorous and well worth reading. You’ll have the feeling you are right there with him. Let the author take you on his dangerous journey.

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