Every day the boy walked home along railroad tracks from his grade school. He felt the clinkers crunch under his shoes as he stepped over the wood rails. He would glance to see if there were any bullies from school behind him.
Sometimes he would pick up a sharp clinker and toss it being careful not to be cut by a sharp edge. He thought that if there were any bullies he could throw clinkers at them and then outrun them.
Once in a while, he would stop at the coal yard next to the tracks at the corner of 107th St. and say hi to his grandfather who was the custodian at the yard. His grandfather would ask him if he had memorized a Bible verse at the Christian school the boy attended. If he had, his grandfather would give him a dime to buy some candy at the general store across the street from the coal yard. Invariably, the boy would say no but that he saw a fight on the playground during recess. There were always fights on the playground during recess and after school.
His grandfather was also the custodian at First Reformed Church in town and an elder at the first English speaking Reformed Church in town. He would say, “I just bet those kids fighting were Christian Reformed, the little covenant bullies. You stay away from those boys.”
The Christian Reformed Church is a denomination nearly identical to the Reformed Church both being ethnically Dutch. There was always competition between the denominations not unlike that which occurs regularly in families and sometimes grows to the level of an internecine feud.
Then his grandfather would give him a dime anyway. The boy continued his journey home after a stop at the store for a package of Tootsie Rolls.
When he got home, his mother, the daughter of his grandfather, would ask him where the Tootsie Rolls were. He would hand her what was left. “You can have the rest after dinner. I wish your grandfather wouldn’t spoil you by giving you money for candy. Did you memorize a scripture verse today?” “No, but I saw a fight on the playground.” “No doubt Christian Reformed boys.”
The next school year his parents enrolled him in the local public grade school where there were very few if any schoolyard fights.