Pat's View: My father's story "The Boy With The Sewed On Foot"
My father, Gerald S. Robinson was a writer, a newspaperman and lived to be 93. Throughout his life, which included living through the great depression he was always optimistic. His favorite expression was “Maybe Something Good Will Happen,” and often enough, it did. That sunny disposition also reflected his humorous heart. He loved to laugh and make others laugh. It made him easy to be around and I remember him saying to me, “I don’t have any enemies.” As part of his light hearted approach to life he stayed in touch with his childhood, regaling my four brothers and I with his many adventures, friends and experiences. I was privileged enough to be asked by him to take his life stories, written on yellow legal pads and transcribe them into his self styled autobiography. It’s called Listen to your father and on Father’s Day this seemed appropriate. It’s a story from his youth that is funny, insightful and evocative of a time of innocence and trust.
By Gerald S. Robinson
The Boy With The Sewed-On Foot
One day I was at the Peninsula Park Pool by myself. I don't know where Russell was. It was a hot day and I was doing what I liked to do best. Nothing. Some guys were playing Rock, Scissors, Paper. Some guys were leaning up against the wall stuccoing. I liked just laying on my back on the hot concrete with my eyes closed in a puddle of warm water that dripped off my swimsuit. If you close your eyes you can see all sorts of obiblical designs on your eyeballs. I don't know what that means but it was one of my favorite words. Sometimes the little squiggly lines move from the top of your eyeball down to the bottom. Then you quick open your eyes and snap them shut again and the obibilical figures look different. I liked doing that a lot.
Sometimes the big kids would bother me to get their handball for them.
They'd be playing handball up against the big wall around the pool and every so often the ball would go into a little hole, maybe a foot square, near the bottom of the wall.
Then they'd come over and poke me with their big toe and nag me to go into the hole and get their ball back. I always did because I could get in and out of the hole and they couldn't and besides I wasn't doing much anyway. Just studying my eyeballs. I was doing this one day and felt a big toe poke me in the ribs. I didn't pay any attention because I knew what they wanted so I just pretended to be asleep. Then the toe poked me again really hard so I sat up and it was Milton Badinsky, my friend in the 5th grade at Woodlawn. Sometimes when he wasn't around, kids called him Buttinsky. I had not seen Milton all summer and I said, “Hi, Milton, I haven't seen you all summer.” And he said, “I know it, I haven't been here.” I was really glad to see him because we were both good spellers so I stood up and said, “Let's go do a Preacher's Seat.” He said, “Okay,” and we started walking over to the edge of the pool. But I noticed that he was walking kind of funny. Kind of a limp.
So we both did a Preacher's Seat and we got back out and walked over to lean against the wall and he was still limping. So I said, “How come you're limping, Milton?” And he said, “It's because I've got a sewed on foot.”
Well you could have knocked me over with a feather because I couldn't see any sew marks and I had never known anybody with a sewed on foot either and I thought it was really something. “Look, ” he said. Then he pushed down on his left foot with his right foot. And you'd think that if a person did this that the blood would go away for a minute and then come back and you could see it. But it didn't so I knew he was telling me the truth.
So I asked how it happened. And he said he went to Chicago with his Mom and Dad and there was a terrible train wreck and his foot got cut off and was dangling by a little piece of skin and bleeding all over the place.
I felt real bad for him and he said it was okay now and the doctors did a really good job on him and even though he still walked with a limp and couldn't run fast anymore and you know, play baseball or tag he was going to be okay.
I tried not to stare at it but couldn't help myself. They really did do a wonderful sewing job on him. But my heart went out to him and I said, “Milton, I have to go home now but I have a nickel in my pants pocket in the locker room and if you would like it I will buy an orange popsicle as soon as I get my clothes on and you can have half of it because as you know popsicles have two sticks.”
He thought that sounded like a good idea so I went down to the locker room and Milton limped along behind me so I walked slow.
Then we got dressed and went right up to the little store near the main entrance. I thought about buying some Necco wafers because I really liked the light brown ones. I also liked the red suckers that were shaped like little red pyramids and the gummy colored candy that were shaped like hats and you could lick em and they'd stick to your forehead. But I bought the popsicle and I was good. I could separate the two pieces without touching it with my hands and I gave him his half.
He said he had to go home and limped off toward the gate. I had a little time to fool around and I was feeling pretty good so I wandered over to watch a baseball game. I found a good seat behind the backstop and finished my popsicle and was getting ready to go home.
Then I saw Milton again. He was chasing another kid way out in left field. He was not limping. He was running.
I couldn't believe my eyes. So I ran out there and he saw me coming and he just stood there. I went up and confronted him. “How come you're not limping, Milton?” I said, “I thought you had a sewed on foot.”
“I lied to you, sucker,” he replied.
I was shattered, and out half a popsicle. “You're a liar lickspit, Milton,” I shouted.
He just walked away. No limp, no shame.