I was out collecting money from my paper route patrons. It was the week after John F. Kennedy had been assassinated. I was walking in the 1800 block of Felix Street when three older boys approached me; they were about 19 – I was 13. They told me to give them my money. I said no – it was not my money – it belonged to the News Press. They knocked me down and took my money. I walked home, dejected, tears in my eyes. My father happened to be home (he worked two jobs). He saw my distress and I told him what had happened. He asked if I knew any of the boys – I said I recognized one.
“Where does he live?” My father frightened me – I had seen this look in his eyes before.
We drove to twentieth and Felix, where on of the thug lived. We walked to the porch and my father banged his fist on the old wood door. It shuddered under the stress. That young man came to the door and my father said to me, “Is that one of them?” “Yes,” was my meager reply.
My father reached in the door and grabbed the young man by his shirt and yanked him out onto the porch. Fire radiated from the eyes of a father protecting his son. He spoke with gritted teeth, “If you ever fuck with my son again, I will kill you!” Then he threw the young man back into the house.
We went home.
The next week I was out collecting. Those same three young men approached from the west. When they saw me they crossed the street and gave me about 100 feet of clearance.
What did I learn?