THE OIL FIELD   by Edward Bonner It wasn’t just life, this was our world.
Rise and shine.
Breakfast is at seven in the morning.
“Cold cereal and then a dash out the door”

Four of my friends and I would run to the local baseball field and play America’s past time.
Nicky; Matt; Luke and Bobbie were the players.
Nicky was my best friend. We were like a tag-team.
Matt and Luke were brothers.
They would always get on each other, especially if one made an error in the game.
Bobby was a little older.
He was a pain in the butt.
Everything was his way.
“You know the kind”

Racing up Nansen Street, felt like running to the top of mountain, only with potholes.
Trees protruded from each side of the road consumed light making shadows come to life.

Reaching the top, we made a sharp right onto Hazelwood Avenue.
Hazelwood Avenue was constructed with “Belgium cut” stone blocks.
In the rain, the blocks were slippery as ice.
You would never ride a bike.
It would be wipe out city.
And the cars would creep five miles per hour down the hill.
Otherwise they would end up into someone’s living room.

About a quarter of a mile walk and we were standing at the backstop.
Now this baseball field was unique in its own way.
The locals called the field, the “Oil Field”.
The proper name was the “Gladstone” field. Which was the high school and grade school located about a quarter of a mile away.

This field was sprayed monthly with oil.
Yes oil!
This prevented dust, mud, grass and bugs.
“Who would believe this today”?

The Oil Field was hard and fast.
You could smell the field a block away.
You definitely didn’t want to slide.
But at all costs,
to win the game we did everything
and anything.
Slide, jump and roll.
Covered with a black type tar,
our clothes would be stained as our bodies would be in pain.
We were never allowed in the house with our shoes on. That’s when you would get a tongue lashing.

Now how the heck do you play a baseball game with only five players?
The best way is.
One player between shortstop and third base,
the second player at left center outfield,
last the pitcher, first baseman and a catcher.
With a lefty batter, we would switch the outfield player to right-center and short to second.

If a right-hand batter hits the ball to between second base and first base he’s automatically out.
With a left-hand batter, it will be the opposite. Hit between second and third you were out.

Morning until dusk,
we played baseball all summer.
The girls would watch,
never allowed on the field.
Fear of staining their clothes and white tennis shoes.

There maybe a few fights about certain plays on the field.
We’d be rolling around and look like we’re ready to be feathered.
Funny no one got hurt.

“Man, here comes the older kids”
“Them damn bullies”
They would kick us off the field so they could play.

One day they got out of hand.
Picking on us kids so freaking bad,
they started throwing equipment all over the field.
Gloves, bats and baseballs launched all over the place.

One kid, his name was Mick.
He looked like a sumo wrestler.                                              “A big fat dough boy”
Mick threw us around like rag dolls.
Swearing and calling us names.
We ran and ran,
Empty handed and all.
Our equipment was left at the field.

When we reached home,
Nicky told his brother “Johnny” what happened at the Oil field.
Johnny hopped on his mini bike and sped up Nansen Street.

By the time we reach the field.
Johnny was powerlifting Mick over his head.
Johnny threw Mick on the hill side.
A hundred yards away, we heard a thud.
That was the last time these kids picked on us.

In the evening we would watch men play softball on the Oil Field.
These players crushed the ball.
If they hit a ball in the outfield, you would lose sight of it.
Within seconds, the catch was made.
This was amazing.
Each player had grace, speed and power.

Spectators would be sitting on the sidewalk cheering the players.
What a great evening.  About the Author:Edward Bonner grew up in a small mill town in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania.Hazelwood, Pa. A very rough neighborhood. Raised by his mother and grandparents until he was 13 years old. That’s when his mother remarried. He then moved to a suburb south of Pittsburgh. Growing up, he probably got into trouble like most kids. An avid outdoorsman. 5th degree black belt / 36 years in Shotokan karate. Author of “One Kiss” Just One Kiss.  A collection of love poems and more. Author of Through The Eyes Of A Lost Boy. A collection of poetry about  “Love, Loss, Trauma, Pain and Healing.” A journey of life through writing.