McArthur Street: Episode Five | Mark Alberto Yoder Nunez
Oddly enough Jimmy, Mike Holly, Mike’s younger sister, Kevin and his younger sister, I and my older brother all became good friends that summer. Even the bad boys from the corner house on the other side of Jimmy’s house became friends. These were two young Mexican boys named Robert and Richard who were around my younger brother’s age. Their older sister, Diana, became an important friend. She was a teenager in high school. She was a little pudgy and was always very amiable. We were all attracted to her, boys and girls. She seemed to like the attention. She would talk to us while she was ironing clothes. We often liked to congregate at their house.
During the summer we had a couple of parties at Jimmy’s house. He had one of those houses in the neighborhood that had a long back porch. It ran along the entire length of the back of the house with screen windows above a low wooden wall. At one end of the porch was a door that gave entrance to the garage. In the garage we had the parties. Jimmy’s mom brought us popcorn and sodas and once she brought cake. Another time she brought cookies. We had a little phonograph and played 45 rpm records of hit songs. We danced to the music in typical sixties style such as doing the twist. We danced without partners which was just as well since there were only two girls there – Keith’s sister and Mike’s sister who I now knew as Janet Holly. My brothers were there and Jimmy’s brothers. These parties were very high spirited. Dancing to sixties rock and roll was like a spiritual release. I remember very well dancing to the Zager and Evans’s song, In The Year 2525, with great abandon.
We did the limbo. I remember Jimmy holding up one end of the limbo bar and my brother, Daniel, the other and gradually they lowered it down for the dancers to try to go under it while dancing without falling. The Jamaican music song, Sitting Here In Limbo by Jimmy Cliff, would be playing on the phonograph. Jimmy was the tallest of all of us standing up there with his wavy, blonde hair. He did remarkably well at limboing even when the bar was low for someone so tall. I did terrible at limboing. At the second party I did not even want to try. Yes, the parties were high spirited and we had more good times.
One summer evening when it was already quite dark we were all congregated by the street in front of Jimmy’s house. Jimmy wasn’t there. Janet Holly, Keith and his sister were there. All of a sudden we saw a flash of bright, blue light! We all looked and exclaimed, “What was that?” Then again there was another flash. It was a streak of bright, spinning, blue light! We were all in amazement, murmuring, “What could it be?” There was another streak of spinning, blue light and another! Then someone said, “It’s Mike!”
Sure enough from the darkness, in the light of the blue flashes the image of Mike Holly emerged but the streaks of blue light were still a mystery. Then someone said, “It’s a yo-yo!” Well of course it was a yo-yo! But it was a yo-yo as we had never seen before. One that lit up as it was spinning. I was so impressed by the excitement of this event that I went out and bought the exact same kind of yo-yo. It had a small light bulb and a battery in it. The bulb was lit when the electric circuit was completed by a metal piece that was forced outward by centrifugal force when the yo-yo was spinning. I tried to impress the kids just when it got dark on McArthur Street the same way that Mike had done but the kids just said, “It’s just Mark”. They were not impressed. I was learning about how popularity worked.
I may not have impressed the kids that night but I knew I was developing a big crush for Janet. She was so pretty and nice. I couldn’t stop looking at her. One day when I was walking on the street Janet and Keith’s sister were sitting on chairs in front of Jimmy’s house. They asked me to take off my glasses. I took them off. Keith’s sister said, “You look cute without your glasses”. Janet said, “You look cute without your glasses”. I didn’t know what to say. I looked at them. They had big smiles on their faces. They both repeated the same words over again. They were still sitting and smiling at me. They seemed to be enjoying my embarrassment and confusion about what I should do. I just smiled and started talking about something. I think Mike came out to see what was going on. This was the first indication I had that Janet liked me. It meant a lot to me.