In the middle 1950s my father prevented me from becoming a hoodlum. He took my large hunting knife away when he observed that I was growing very proficient at using it in a manner that would lead to some one getting seriously injured or even killed.
Every day I would sharpen my knife to where it would easily cut one sheet of paper. I practiced using this knife to go after opponents. I could flip the knife from one hand to the other in practicing parries against an opponent. My confidence grew each day to where I needed to test my skills in an actual fight.
We had moved out of public housing to a home my parents bought in the South Bridge section of Wilmington, DE. I decided to go to the playground of the local school with a basketball court to watch the games. It was located near a public housing project with a few tough individuals who brought fear in the minds of many people.
I set alone in the corner of the fence behind the basketball net where I was really enjoying the old chaps play. The next thing I knew three thugs came up to start their intimidation tactics. I said nothing for I knew I needed to watch their eyes to ascertain their intent.
Suddenly, the lead chap pulled out one of those push button switchblade knives suggesting that they were going to kill me. The blade was a shiny chromic color that sparkled in my eyes in the sun light of the middle summer day. I guess they expected that I would run with this intimidating situation.
I froze studying the eyes of the lead chap with the knife for I knew his eyes would reveal his intended actions. I ease my hand back to get my own knife for I was convinced that I could take down all three of these foolhardy chaps in a life and death struggle. I was horrified because I remembered that my father had taken my knife the night before.
I knew I needed to improvise if I was going to live or not get mutilated for the lead kid was a member of family that had a reputation for being bad. I must have stunned these hellions because I was standing my ground looking for a new weapon in which to do battle.
I noticed that there were empty beer bottles setting around the edge of the basketball court. There was a brand of beer, I believe called Piels that came in a long thin bottle that appeared to be an excellent weapon. I grabbed one of these bottles striking the fence pole to create a jagged weapon.
I turned to face the kid with the knife. The broken bottle felt very similar to my knife, so my training calmed my nerves. When he launched forward with the knife I stepped to the side striking his arm as he passed. The broken bottle tore out one of the veins in his arm, so blood shot everywhere.
The other two kids ran off leaving him to die because they must have feared that I also was going to cut them. With the threat of those other hellions gone I pulled off my wife beater underwear shirt to make a strapping to stop the blood flow. I was successful in saving his life.
They learned that everyone is not afraid of their intimidation; furthermore, they confirmed that my training had been right on target. I never had any problem with the police following this altercation. However, I must thank my father for foreseeing that I was headed for trouble. It may have been a much different story legally if I had used my own knife in this altercation to kill one of these hellions.
I did not have any problems from his family although I never lowered my guard until I joined with a bunch of boys who were talking about college. Many of these new kids lived on the street where my parents bought our home. Some of them were related to other tough kids, so we never had any problems. At sixteen years of age, we were spending our money to buy gas for the cars some members owned to find girls or go wherever to have noncriminal fun.
The last time I saw the chap with the knife it must have been five years ago. He was still thankful that I had saved his life. We grew to be friends as men.
I must admit I was incensed when my father took my knife. It was only out of parental respect that I had been taught over the years that I did not challenge my father. I felt that my father was taking away my protection, but he really was saving lives. When I think about it fathers’ job is to make right decisions and not popular one.