Monday night we closed the bedroom window. So long to lingering summer. Hello to the smell of heat rising in cold radiators. Of pet smells intermingled with pine needles.

Before we closed that window, though, we did have our final Saturday. It was lovely. A sunny day, warm in the 70s. Perfect for endless raking, for burying all forms of garden vegetation deep in the leaf piles, for loading in a few cans of lead-based paint and the old water heater under the moldering leaves.

Anyhow, the afternoon gave way to a still warm evening and the kids (teenagers, I mean) were on watch. Deep inside their Aéropostale-wrapped souls, they knew this was the end. They had to be outside, going nowhere, doing nothing, together, one more time. My kid’s crew chose “the track” at the high school as their destination. Centrally located. Light. Yet dark. Possible to be seen by people you might want to see you, yet not so obvious as “hanging out on Lake.” There is some pecking order involved in all of this, the code of which I have yet to crack. But, the track was it. Actually, outside the track, along Scoville, the better for the boys to do astounding feats of skateboard lédgermain for the edification of the young females.

On the other end of the evening, after the police cars and the ambulance left, our young friend – the one who had been seriously plunked on the leg by the full can of soda heaved at close range by the boys hanging out the moon roof of the little yellow car – noted that it was the last night, the last night to act like a jerk, in just a T-shirt.

Reminded me of my days as co-chair of Midnight Madness on Oak Park Avenue, always the first night out in the spring, when a few harebrained kids out of a cast of thousands would find some novel way to screw up the works. I like to think that most of those knuckleheads now have mortgages and bad marriages.

The cops and the paramedics were just great with my kid’s merry band. “Now you all be home and in bed by 10,” the paramedic said sardonically as he reboarded the ambulance.

My wife and I were actually home and in bed at 11:30 p.m. when out on the lawn there rose such a clatter, I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Turns out our lives on the quiet cul-de-sac that is 300 S. Humphrey had been shaken by a young man from Berwyn who, allegedly, had had a very thirsty evening and mistakenly thought he was on a through street.

My neighbors, doubling as casually dressed crime scene investigators, congregated seconds later. We concluded – from the placement of the dismembered top three-quarters of the tree and the fact that the fallen leaves had not been disturbed on the little island at the end of our street – that said Berwynite had taken his little red sports car airborne before his forward progress was impeded by said tree.

Oak Park’s finest found the allegedly inebriated driver a block away, parked quietly, hoping no one would notice his bark-covered roadster. He’s going to wish Nov. 7 had been 42 degrees and drizzling like it ought to have been.

Now summer is over. Time to close the window and get drunk at home.

Join the discussion on social media!

Avatar photo

Dan Haley

Dan was one of the three founders of Wednesday Journal in 1980. He’s still here as its four flags – Wednesday Journal, Austin Weekly News, Forest Park Review and Riverside-Brookfield Landmark – make...