We came around the corner of Harvest and Allen in the late afternoon. As second-graders we were just two nondescript Mormon boys having some after-school exploration through the neighborhood.
But let's provide some context. The neighborhood was what our parents called "blessed." At the time that meant nothing to me. But I did know I had a lot of friends. And if I walked down my street my arm could possibly tire out from the number of waves made to passing neighbors and cars. Waves were reciprocated earnestly. So waving in our neighborhood was as common as the warm sun. Nothing big here other than the fact that everyone knew everyone and was on good terms all around. This was to be a terribly important setting for what we were about to do.
Around the corner...I spotted a newspaper in the Kleiner's yard. Late in the day I thought they didn't need it. So I grabbed it. We kept walking and two houses down another newspaper lay in the driveway. So my partner in crime went and grabbed it. Two boys. Two newspapers. No. Big. Deal.
But here is the deal. If you throw your mind back to when you were a young boy in the prime of youth with only a pencil box in your desk at school to your name, you liked things, especially free things. And you were competitive. If your best bud had one, you wanted one. And if your best bud didn't have one, you never though about having one. We both had one newspaper. But I wanted another one.
And so, a few houses down, I grabbed another newspaper I saw (apparently our neighbors were not well-informed of what happened the day before in Mesa). Well, my buddy grabbed the equalizer at the next available driveway.
So, we got home with newspapers. Nothing big, but it was an easy booty. I bid my friend good evening and walked home to dinner with the family, passing the "Return with Honor" plaque on our front door.
The next day at school, my buddy and I started talking about resuming our collection. But newspapers were boring. And each one said the same thing. What else could we collect out there in our world? The answer came on the way home from school. Another one of our buddies was out of town. So we knew he must have had uncollected mail in his mail box. I told my buddy to watch out for anyone watching us, and I quickly opened the mailbox, which was stuffed. My heart skipped with joy as I plunged my hand in for the easiest "free" stuff in the world. We ran around a fence and sat down with my buddy's mail. At this point you might wonder where our consciences were vacationing. To this day, I never know why they were AWOL, so I cannot answer that question, I really was otherwise a good kid.
Back to the mail, one of the envelopes was a birthday card for our mutual friend. We opened it. I know, terrible. And we read it. And laughed at the words, though it was nothing special. But our hearts were racing. This was cool. It was fun. It was exciting. We looked down the street at an entire line of mailboxes, standing there on their posts like prisoners in front of a firing squad, unmoving and silent.
We moved on and at the next house opened the mailbox. Nothing. But at the following house the mailbox was again full of mail. I grabbed it all. This one was lucrative, veritable booty, if you will. It had a brand new shiny penny inside the envelope. The face of Honest Abe staring right at me. I was pumped up about this new scheme of ours. Funny birthday cards. Free pennies. Why hadn't we done this earlier?