Growing up on Grant Street

Childhood memory: the closest I’ve come to being arrested. Names disguised for the sake of protecting the innocent.

Across the street from our BC housing projects on Grant Street, there were several industrial work sites, where we would like to play. My fav spot was wrapped thickly with blackberry bushes during the summer and you could play loudly during weekends in a berry encircled cove sheltered from most passers by. Most days, we’d bring an empty ice cream bucket, fill it with blackberries then stuff our faces with the sweet fruit while telling each other stories. As a group, we didn’t all normally hang out together…but the berries bonded us.

 This one summer, I must have been about 8 or 9, we turned this spot beside some small factory’s parking lot into our weekend summer day camp. We brought cardboard boxes, from another of the industrial sites, and built out an area for us to sit around. We would bring food from home and have potluck lunches – always featuring blackberries. 

I don’t remember what I brought that day. But I do remember someone bringing a bag of marshmallows, someone else a pot of prepared kraft dinner, and someone else…a lighter.

We had marshmallows. We had to make a campfire.
The scene was reminiscent of Our Gang Comedies: a group of ragtag kids roasting marshmallows, passing around a pot of KD, jamming berries into their mouths. Blackberries and marshmallows go SO WELL together.

Then these two ladies walked by with their dog, peering down towards us, concluding that our act was dangerous and we were bad kids. They walked cautiously towards us and demanded we put out the fire. Mr Bravado of our group told them to go to hell. We laughed. They left.

It wasn’t long before the cop car arrived. We had already put the fire out by then. Lunch was over.

Mr Bravado decided to be the leader of our group…and I think we were all relieved that someone had a plan. We were freaking out. We let him walk ahead of us.

He eyed down the cop as the cop eyed down us. All the while,  I was shaking with worry.

The cop asked him what his name was.

He lied. So coolly. 

The cop then asked him what his last name was.

He couldn’t think of an answer. So he cried.

Like a chain reaction, we all started crying. I think we were all thinking the same thing. “Please don’t tell our single parents, for they will never let us hear the end of this. We will be punished forever.”
The cop made us all stand, side by side, in front of his car. Maybe he knew his intentions with us from the beginning, but I bet he was making it up as he went along. He made us each give him our full name and address while he wrote it in his little spiral bound book. He lectured us and lectured us…what if the fire had gotten out of control…we could have burnt the warehouse down.

We were certain that he was going to take us home…we were expecting doom, since we all lived across the street. He threatened to repeatedly, while we cried. But he didn’t. He let 5 kids off with a warning, while tapping his little notebook that contained our addresses. “Don’t ever let me see you doing this again.” 

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