As previously mentioned, Mrs. Gribble was famous for always being out in her yard during the warm months. She had flowers all around the house with an additional garden in her back yard. When she was not planting or pruning, she was hosing off her sidewalk. I think she would sweep the sidewalk and then hose it down, then sweep it again wet.
We were almost as famous in the neighborhood but our fame was most likely for getting into trouble. I guess you call that infamous. Next door to us was a retired farmer and his wife. Once in a while he would wander over, tell us he was the oldest man in town (96 or 98 I think)… turn around, fart and then wander back over to his house. There was a driveway between our houses. We had a window on the landing of the front stairs that would overlook their lower level. At night we would sometimes shine a flashlight from our landing window – through their window and onto him while he tried to watch tv. When he would look to see where the light was coming from, we would turn it off. Eventually, his wife would pull the shade. This couple also had an entire lot behind their house that they used as a garden. They had everything in that garden. At the end of the year he would bundle the corn stalks and make what looked like tee pees. We used them as tee pees. There were other stalks of things which we could pull out of the ground and use as spears. The short stalks with a clump of dirt on the end were used as German hand grenades.
The guy on the other side of Mrs. Gribble’s house was a mechanic. When we were 7 or 8, he seemed like a pretty huge fellow. Of course… everyone seemed old. We were in the middle of a great game of “ring the doorbell and run off” (also known today as “ding dong ditch”) when he completely outwitted us. It was a hot, muggy summer evening. We came to his house and walked up to the door. He must have been watching our antics as we were getting closer to his house – and he was just waiting. His front door was open. There was a screened storm door on the outside. We rang the door bell. Before we could even turn to run, he was standing there. He was sweaty and wearing slacks and a (what is commonly called now) wife beater t-shirt. He had a gruff voice.
“Hey, you kids!!! Stop right there.” We did. “You should not be ringing doorbells… SEE MY MUSCLES???!!!” And then he struck some pose. I guess the point was that this guy would pound the crap out of us if he ever caught us doing this again. I don’t recall ever bothering him again.
Mrs. Gribble was different though. She was just taunting us with the opportunity to annoy her. One particular day while she was cleaning up her sidewalk, we thought it would be fun to ride through her wet sidewalk and let that water splatter up our backs from the rear wheel of our bike. That, plus driving dangerously close and annoying to her as she was trying to do her task. This went on for a little bit until she pulled the greatest move I’ve ever seen.
I had passed and was down the sidewalk a bit. The other kid who actually lived next door to her was getting close to her on his bike. She was sweeping her wet sidewalk. In one fluid move, she took the broom and jammed it into the front wheel of his bike. This would later be seen in the Nazi motorcycle chase in one of the Indiana Jones movies.
He flipped over the front and landed right in front of her. She reached down and grabbed him by the ear and hauled him up the sidewalk and up his own front steps and knocked on the door. His Mom opened the door and Mrs. Gribble presented the boy to her along with an explanation of what was going on.