Back when I was a child I had a babysitter named Bea Purcell. Conveniently located, she lived across the street from us on Minaker Drive in Antioch. She looked a bit like Fred Flintstone in drag.
Bea had a grandson named Mark, who was about four years younger than me. Instead of calling Bea and her husband “Grandma” and “Grandpa,” he called them Bea and Frank.
I knew Mark best when he was between the ages of two and six. He was always at Bea’s, as his mom and dad worked a lot. When he was going through his terrible twos, Bea, quite the nontraditional grandmother, would whine when he acted up, “C’mon, have a heart!” Sometimes she would wail, “Ah, gimme a break!”
Mark was a brat, but a somewhat entertaining one. Sometimes when you swam in Bea’s built-in pool Mark would run around it and try to pee on you when you came up for air.
When I would go to Sears with Bea and Co., I would dare Mark to poop and/or pee in the display toilets. It didn’t take much urging; that kid was always up for a challenge.
When he was about four Mark used to run out to the center median on Minaker Dr., pull his pants down and stick his butt out to cars. This was funny to watch from my house; that double-take that drivers and their passengers would do was priceless. I remember one time a couple of hippies flipped him off.
Mark’s gig ended abruptly one afternoon when he mooned a cop. I didn’t get to witness this, but rumor has it that the cop pulled over, took Mark up to Bea’s door, reported what had happened, then asked permission to give Mark a swat on his butt. Bea obliged. That was back in the day when you could spank other people’s kids.
Bea died in the summer of 1978, of a heart attack. Mark by then had moved with his mom and stepdad to another state. I often wonder whatever became of him. I am hoping he did well in his life, as he always seemed to possess a certain reckless abandonment that would make you wish you were on his good side.
Funny, the people and things you remember from childhood.