Scar Stories: Youth, Shopping Carts, and Television

When I was a child, I was very adventurous. I have many scars on my body that remind me of stories…

I was born near Chicago Illinois in a small town called Oak Park.
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I lived at the corner of East Avenue and Randolph Street in an apartment with eight other families. Many of the families had children my age.

I was the only child in my family, had curly blond hair, I was tall for my age, and usually wore very colorful clothing. My mother shopped at used clothing stores, and bought me one pair of new shoes a year because I wore everything out so fast.

My parents made a rule that I was only allowed to watch one hour of television per day. The two shows I watched religiously were Alf and Pee Wee’s Playhouse. But I always wanted to watch more cartoons, and my parents said no.

Because of this restriction, my favorite thing to do when I was a child was play outside with my two best friends Gary and Sam

Every day the three of us would meet to ride our bikes around the front and side yards of the apartment. We invented all sorts of games. And spent a lot of time hanging from trees, and combining sports. The best one was baseball on roller-skates, I got a concussion, but that’s another story.

One day Sam was sick and I wanted to ply outside. I walked over to Gary’s door, rang the bell, and asked his mother “Can Gary come out to play?”

“Of course,” she replied, “but I have to go to the store, so can he stay over at your house later?”

“My mom said he’s welcome any time.”

Gary came out and we started looking for something to do. Around the corner, near the alley, was a shopping cart. We decided that it would be a great idea to give rides to each other. Gary was a year younger and a little smaller than I was. We decided that he should get the first ride, and I should push.

I had used a similar cart at our local grocery store, named Jewel. The cart was tall, awkward and rusty. The wheels didn’t roll straight, and the basket was bent to one side. It looked like a car had hit it.

Gary climbed in, and moved up to the front of the basket. He wrapped his fingers between the metal bars and got a good grip. He was bracing himself with his knees pressed into the front corner, and his head poked out and looked like a gargoyle.

Immediately I lunged at the orange handle, and started to push with all my strength. I began to run very fast. Gary and I were laughing together when all of the sudden there was a crack in the sidewalk. The cart stopped instantly, and the ejection of Gary’s body began. His fingers were still between the metal of the cart, and because of this, his feet went over his head and it looked like he was standing on his hands or diving into a swimming pool.

While Gary was upside down, my body stayed in the same path, and I crashed into the card with much force. Both of our bodies and the cart tangled into one great heap of metal and flesh. Gary landed on his face with the cart on top of him, and me on top of the cart. His cheek looked like ground beef.

Both of us got up with fear in our eyes…(but not because we were bleeding)

“Oh no! I ripped my pants and got blood on my shirt!” Gary shouted. “My mother is going to KILL me!”

Both of my palms were skinned, and I replied, “Well, try not to bleed on it…”

We thought and thought, and finally came up with a story of how we got hurt. And decided that falling out of a tree seemed reasonable. After all, Sam had broken his arm falling out of a tree earlier that year.

The door to my family’s un air-conditioned apartment was open to let in the fresh summer breeze so we just walked right in. I shouted up the stairs, “MoooOOOOoom, Gary fell out of a tree, and skinned his face.”

She reacted quickly and covered the wound with aloe and vitamin E, and for the rest of the day we got to stay inside and sit on the couch…

The biggest surprise to us, was that she never yelled about the clothes, the best part, for the rest of the day we got to watch all the television we wanted…

Published by Pete Ippel

Pete Ippel, the son of a dancer and a musician, was born in Oak Park, Illinois and has been surrounded by the arts since birth. He moved to Morris, Illinois in 1989 and started to participate in athletics rather than dance. After high school, Pete attended Cornell University where he received a BA in psychology and a BFA in photo / digital art making. He continued to follow his sporting dreams in the high jump, which culminated in a school record leap of 7 feet 1/2 inch in 2001. In May 2004 he attained an MFA degree in the New Genres department of the San Francisco Art Institute. Presently Pete is a practicing artist whose work is in numerous private collections and has been exhibited in New York, California, and internationally. Mr. Ippel resides in Working Artists Ventura, a sustainable artist community in southern California. In addition, he teaches art, is a web developer, an active blogger, and still high jumps from time to time. As a passionate problem solver and a pragmatic optimist, Pete’s art and his life are full of exciting challenges.

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