By the time we were 9 or 10, Mayland, Billy, Brian and I were all over Burnside ave. We used to go up to the music store across from the school name Burnside Musicland which was also where I took guitar lessons (as previously mentioned) from Tony Spada. Tony’s mother Marie had bought the shop a couple of years before that and we always used to go in and talk about how we were going to be rock stars. Marie called us “The Burnside Brat Pack” which was fitting. I think every business on Burnside knew us. We were in and out of all of them – almost daily. We all had our 20” BMX bikes with the velcro pads around the frame to protect your crotch in case you fell forward off your seat. Like that was really going to protect the jewels. Also it was a big deal for the bikes to have freewheel (so you could freely spins the pedals backwards just because) with handbrakes. If you had a bike with a foot brake then you got made fun of as having a cheap bike. I fell into that category. We rode everywhere! Every time we passed a driveway where the curb ended we used these as mini ramps to pop wheelies.
There was a pet store right next to our apartment building. They had a Macaw that we used to go try and talk to all the time. It only ever saw “Caw” back to us. So disappointing. I used to buy a beta fish for $1 all the time too (small bowl included). One time right out in front of the pet store I was riding and I saw this girl walking with her Mom and Dad towards the store. She was new to the school and cute so I wanted to show off a little bit. I sped up on my bike, rode up the curb and went to pop a wheelie. Then my handlebars hit a street sign and completely turned the bike and I smacked the pole and then the ground – about 3’ from where they were walking. Of course they rushed up to me and asked if I was OK – yeah, I meant to do that.
Right next door to Musicland was United Tae Kwon Do. Mr. Lee was the old teacher there and was truly old school. He did not smile – ever. I always thought it smelled like feet in there. I took classes there for a little while. He had a little refrigerator by the front door and they had some sodas and juices in there. There was also a coffee can in there. When you came in and wanted a drink, you threw 50 cents in the can and got you drink. I didn’t quite get the honor system yet and never had any money. There was me and another kid that were always first and we both did the same thing. We would go in and there was always some change and a dollar or two in there. We would go tap the can so it made noise without dropping any money in and take a drink. Of course Mr. Lee is the one who put that money in there and he knew exactly how much it was. So one time during his intro to class he talks about honor and honesty. Then he says I put the soda out for you and expect you to be honest and pay for what you drink. Then he says I put money in that can every day to test you and my heart just sank into my ass. He knew exactly what we were doing and he made us put our feet up on the balance bar and hands on the ground in a sort of slanted handstand – for the entire class!
There was a McDonalds that opened up on Burnside down by Wickham Park. We all wanted to go all the time and it became sort of a status symbol in the school. Kids used to compare how many times they had been to the new McDonald’s like that was some kind of indication of how cool we were. Then there was K&O grocery which was a little convenience store near the school. I swear that guy made no money. Every kid I know used to go in that store before and after school to pocket candy while paying for their 3 cent piece of Bazooka gum. It was also right around this time when I started my collection of Garbage Pail Kids. For those that don’t know, they were a trading card that made fun of Cabbage Patch Kids. I had a huge bag full of them at home. The only store that sold them was the Cumberland Farms way down past the S curve on Burnside. It was a dirty little ghetto store and they had all of the cheap nasty candy that you didn’t find at 7-11 or K&O but it was worth the ride to get my Garbage Pail Kids.