Only a ten year old boy with a broken alarm clock could do this.
My mom and I had moved to Manhattan Beach, California the year before from Chicago after she separated from my dad. We had rented space in this mans house that was conveniently located a couple of blocks from my new school and an easy drive for my mom to get to work. Also, my moms sister lived just a few blocks in the opposite direction which made it nice as well.
It was early 1957 and the second half of the school year had just begun. Back in those days, the majority of the houses were located near the beaches or surrounding towns. There were a lot of sand dunes and ice plant in between streets and buildings. The street we lived on ran just past the last house on the block and then it became sand. When we walked to school, half the distance was paved the other half was soft white sand and then pavement again as you approached the school. It was just the opposite going the other way. There was plenty of space to run and hide and get into all kinds of mischief. I’m pretty sure us kids found nearly all of them.
One day, while playing in the fort I had built out in the dunes, I came across an old alarm clock with a wooden case. Now, nearly everything is in plastic. It was missing the back panel so all the gears were exposed. The thing wouldn’t run. There was no key to wind it with but, you could turn the mechanism by hand which was very neat in deed.
There was this girl that lived next door to me who was awful cute and, who I just happened to have a crush on. She had an older brother, a couple years older than I, who would always be eating Campbell’s Bean with Bacon soup. Or, at least it seemed that way. Every time I saw him he’d have a bowl of that soup. To this day, that’s still my favorite soup in a can. Go figure.
I got side tracked there, sorry.
Well anyway, I figured this broken alarm clock was really neat and the cute little neighbor girl would really be impressed with what I found so, I decided to show her. I went over to her house and knocked on the door. When she got to the door she looked at the clock and said with some excitement, “What’s that?”
I told her I had found it near the fort out in the dunes. I told her, also, it didn’t run but the gears would turn by moving the hands on the face and I showed her. She tried it and the thing kept on running for a while. Why I don’t know but it did. She went to hold it up to her ear and said, “I wonder if it makes any sound.” Where upon her long brown hair got caught up in the gears. The darned thing kept on running until the clock was almost up to her ear itself then stopped.
I was panicking, she was crying. I tried to get her to stop so the neighbors wouldn’t come outside to see what was happening and her soup eating brother, I had no idea where he was. This was very bad.
She finally stopped crying but she was sobbing and gasping and sobbing some more. I just wanted this whole thing to go away. Why did I have to find that darn alarm clock anyway and why did I have to show it to her? Geez, what do I do now?
We tried, I tried to get the clock to go backwards to get her hair loose but that didn’t work. As a matter of fact, the clock actually moved forward some more and she started crying again. I didn’t blame her for crying I just wished she wasn’t. It was making me nervous.
After thinking about it, there was only one thing to do. I had to cut her hair and I had better do it now before the clock decided to move again and suck her head into the gears. Hey, I was a scared kid. What did I know?
I went in the house and got my moms pinking sheers. Those are scissors seamstresses use to cut fabric so it won’t fray. My mom sewed a lot that’s why I know plus, they were the only scissors I knew the whereabouts of.
When I went outside, the cute little neighbor girl was still sitting on the edge of the porch holding the alarm clock next to her ear as if she were listening to it. Anything but. I told her, again, what I was going to do and we both agreed it was the only way.
She closed her eyes when I asked if she was ready and I wished I could have closed mine as well. I figured since I had the scissors, I’d better keep mine open. I placed those big silver pinking sheers next to her head and schnip, it was done. There was the clock with a fair amount of her hair dangling in the breeze. She had a very noticeable bald spot just behind her left ear and I knew this was not going away easy.
Our neighbors forbid their daughter from ever seeing me again and I was to have no contact with her what so ever. Sort of like an adolescent version of a restraining order. My mom was none too thrilled either. I got punished by her as well. Oh well, kids will be kids, right?
Besides, what’s a little hair between friends anyway? lol
See you next-time.