At a remove of almost 50 years, my two surviving partners-in-crime growing up in Rockingham and I concluded that most of the offenses for which we were arrested as juveniles ranked just a notch above what the Li’l Rascals were doing: climbing through a window to play basketball in the school gym, taking empty soda bottles from the back of the Pepsi Cola bottling plant to the front and selling them for two cents each. (Convenience stores only gave you a penny.)
We – like the swallows returning each year to Capistrano, or like Frankie Beverly & Maze or The Grateful Dead returning to your local amphitheater during their annual summer concert tours – appeared each summer from ages 13 to 15 in Richmond County Juvenile Court.
It’s lost to history what specific crime we were charged with as we stood in front of a juvenile court judge on this particular summer day.
As always, we’d spent the weeks since our arrest re-rediscovering religion, going to church and promising The Almighty “If you get us out of this jam without being sent to Morrison Training School, I’ll never steal another Nab from the teachers’ lounge.”
I also spent almost every night and day leading up to court listening endlessly to Kris Kristofferson’s song Why Me, Lord with its plaintive refrain “Lord help me Jesus…”