A Tattle Tale

What happened in 1960 no longer stays in 1960

I’ve kept my mouth shut about this for fifty years, and as far as I’m concerned that’s long enough.  The statute of limitations has officially run out on my noble efforts to protect a couple of teenage girls (who are now in their late sixties) from the wrath of their parents (who are probably long dead by this point anyway!)  I’m through covering up for them.  It’s time to spill the chips and let the beans fall where they may. 

First I guess I’d better disguise the identity of the people involved because even though  neither of the girls in question are likely to read this article; if they ever got wind that I was ratting them out after all these years, things could get ugly.  So I think I’ll change their name to "Benderfosch”, which is sort of similar to the real one but just different enough that I should be able to steer clear of any trouble.

Here’s what happened:  It was the summer of 1960 and I was six years old.  On this particular weekend my parents were hosting some friends, the Millikens, from out of town.  Their daughter Ann and my two sisters and I spent Saturday afternoon swimming in our backyard wading pool until our lips turned blue, our fingertips shriveled up and our teeth began to chatter, at which point we were hauled out, dried off, fed a hearty supper of "tube steaks” (aka hot dogs), and bedded down on pallets in the living room.  This last detail is important because the large picture window in this room gave us a ringside view of the whole incident that followed.

Long about midnight we awoke to a loud commotion outside.  Apparently our next door neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. Benderfosch, were out of town, and their two teenage daughters, along with a few other female friends, had taken this golden opportunity to invite some airmen from nearby Webb Air Force Base over for a nice pleasant chat.  Well needless to say the guys from the local high school weren’t too keen on a bunch of fly boys swarming around their girls, so they crashed the party – literally.

As if the screeching tires from two carloads of angry football players weren’t enough to bring my parents running to the window, the hollering of the boys and subsequent shrieks of the girls did the trick.  You never saw such a wild brawl in your life!  There were fists flying and tangles of arms and legs rolling all over their front lawn and spilling onto ours.  At first the grownups in our house thought it best to remain mere spectators, but when one of the guys snapped the antenna off of Charlie Milliken’s car in our driveway to use as a weapon, my Mom called the police while Daddy and Charlie quickly repositioned themselves in our open garage to protect it from further invasion.  Just then one fellow, who obviously didn’t see the two men standing there in the dark, headed toward some lawn equipment just inside our garage.  Big mistake!  Why?  Because our double garage door was made of a single giant piece of heavy plywood and in one swift motion Daddy gave the string a firm tug and brought the whole door right down across the intruder’s noggin.  No, it didn’t seriously hurt him but it definitely was enough of a clonk to send him reeling backward – wondering, I’m sure, what on earth had hit him!

Minutes later, from our vantage point we saw the cops arrive and bust the whole party up.  The next morning the girls quickly cleaned up all the broken beer bottles (and even some blood on the sidewalk!) leaving no evidence that anything had happened, but believe me nobody in my family or the Milliken’s ever forgot it.

For a long time afterward, Ann was too scared to visit us again; and whenever we said the blessing before dinner, my little sister Marsha always thanked God for our garage door.  As for me, I just kept quiet about the whole incident.  I mean, who was I to get a couple of teenagers in trouble with their parents, right?

But enough is enough.  After fifty years I’m finally breaking my silence.  It’s time the whole world knew the true story of the Benderfosch fight – and if those two girls end up getting grounded as a result, well they have nobody to blame but themselves.  (I just hope they never find out I’m the one who squealed on them!)

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