It was a typical late summer evening. There was still plenty of daylight and a group of us neighborhood kids were playing baseball at the Saint Matthews Baptist Church.
The Baptist as we called it was the center of the universe for us. It was our baseball diamond, football field (no soccer in those days) and golf course. The parking lot included four basketball goals – two with streetlights that allowed us to keep playing after the sun went down. It was everything a 12 year old boy could want and we lived right across the street!
The field and basketball goals served as kid magnets. And there were plenty of kids in our neighborhood and the surrounding neighborhoods. On our two streets alone – Grandview and Warner – we had 6 of us Walshes, our Bob and Charles Fischer cousins, the Wahls, the Lamberts, Wisemans, Dyes, the Sorrells, Hobens, Bill Horan, Donnie Blackburn, Jimmy Gipe, Carl Gies, and others I’m sure I’m missing. Others like George Schultz, Billy Hines and Steve Krauser would come from the surrounding neighborhoods and join in. We rarely had a problem fielding two teams for whatever game we were playing that day.
This was just another day of ballplaying. It was after dinner so only the Grandview kids were still around. I don’t remember who was playing that night but our game was suddenly interrupted by squealing tires and a sickening thud. Then yelling. “Tommy got hit by a car!”
I didn’t look to see what happened. I simply ran toward my house as fast as I could all the time yelling “Tommy got hit by a car!” My father heard my screams through the screen door and bolted out of the house before I reached the front steps. He ran down the street towards the quickly gathering group a few houses down the street. I followed apprehensively.
As I drew near where my brother lay in the street, I could hear him crying while my father was telling him that everything would be OK. The lady who hit Tom was crying also. She kept saying “I never saw him. I never saw him.” (It wasn’t her fault. Bushes near the street had obstructed her view. A few days later those bushes were gone.)
It seemed like forever before the police arrived. They carefully loaded Tom into the back of their station wagon that doubled as an ambulance. My father crawled into the back with Tommy and they were gone. The lights and sirens fading as they sped to the hospital.
I was numb. I couldn’t believe what I had seen. My little brother, laying in the street with his legs bent at impossible angles. My father bent over him, trying to convince them both that everything would be OK. Now they were gone and I wondered. “Would I ever see my little brother again?”
Postscript. This story has a happy ending. Tom suffered two broken femurs and endured a lengthy recovery. He’s had a few issues as a result of his accident but he hasn’t let them slow him down. The two of us are still playing softball together in a senior (over 60) league and in a few weeks Tom embarks on a 2 week cycling tour of Ireland.