The Adventures of Ted and Norman, Chapter 1
When I was just a pup, my family decided to call me by my middle name--Norman. That's not all that unusual really. At least it wasn't in MY life. I had a same generation cousin who was a little older than me, and was named for the same ancestors I was--so his name was also James Norman, and everybody called him Jimmy. So, they called me Norman. I stayed Norman until I joined the Army in 1968. It was at that point of my life that I found out that there was little tolerance for being called by your middle name. So, I became Jim Young at that point, and have remained so. Never had an identity problem, always sort of knew where I stood in life and have pretty much always had self confidence, so whatever name I was called by was OK by me. I've had a number of nick names in my life including Worms and Ol' Forearm, and I was always OK with them (and others), but that's a story for another day. If I'd been called Jim to begin with, this would have been called The Adventures of Ted and Jim, and that just doesn't roll off the tongue that way Ted and Norman does.
When I was 4 or 5 years old I met Ted Tremayne. He lived in my neighborhood, and we became best friends. For life, as it turned out. We haven't seen much of one another in quite a while, but he's still one of my best friends (I actually accumulated a total of 4 best friends in my life, but that's also a story for another day). We correspond and remember one another on our birthdays. What we have, that no one can ever take from us, is our memories of our free and easy childhood, and this story is about the Space Radio and the Shit-A-Tit, integral parts of our young lives.
To pay the rent, my Dad worked in a lumber mill, but Ted's Dad owned a business.....a Television Repair Shop with a store front right on the Redwood Highway in East Windsor. We were given some old radio parts, and we stuck them together in such a way that when we turned it on, the tinny speaker let out some scratchy static. We determined that this was communications from afar, and that little device was our Space Radio. It's hard to say how many hours we concocted stories about who, exactly, and from where, these communications were coming, but we were pretty certain that it was from Space. No, we were absolutely certain. The truth is, when I was that young, radio was a complete mystery to me, especially the concept of a radio receiver in a car. Where did the radio voices come from? I finally figured out that they were people talking into the air and the radio somehow found these voices. When I rode in the car, I would talk out of the open car window so that people in OTHER cars could hear what I had to say.
Ted lived in an apartment that had been carved out of an old school. The sign in the front of his house proclaimed that the building was "Hannah House Movers", but it looked like the pictures of school houses that I saw in books. There was a dirt floor cellar, and in it was, among other things, an apple press where the owners of the building sometimes crushed apples. Ted and I got to watch, and sometimes get a drink of the juice. There was a huge piece of property affiliated with the building, and one piece of equipment that sat there permanently was an old flat bed semi-trailer with a wooden bed. We played on it all the time. When it was frosty on cold mornings, we would run on it and then slide like we were skating. Mostly, it was our ship--a boat that carried us to lands previously unknown, and we named it the nastiest name a couple of 5 year old could name it. This was the Shit-A Tit. Nastier words had never been spoken.