Wednesday, February 23, 2005


When I was a kid growing up around San Bruno Ave. in San Francisco a bunch of the older boys formed a club called the “Vandals.” Despite its name, it was a very responsible boys club. They sponsored charities, had sports programs, and were active in civic affairs among other things.

It seemed like all the best kids in the area belonged to this club. By best I mean the ones with the best personalities, the non-bullies, the non-creeps, the non-schmucks. It seems as if that included almost half the kids in that age group. That was a great generation. (They all went on to fight in WW2.)

They had a club sweater which, I think, they all wore all the time. You could tell they wore it with pride. Belonging to that club made them even better people than they had been. Everyone, including grown-ups, admired and respected them. The sweater was like a sign that said, “Here is a good person.”

The other kids, the bullies-creeps-schmucks, lobbied continually to be let in the club. They even had friends in the club who lobbied on their behalf, all to no avail.

We would tease the ones who were left out. “You’re not good enough,” we would yell at them. They would give us the finger, or bully us, or swear at us in return, but they knew we were right.

Then one day we were shocked to see some of the bullies-creeps-schmucks wearing “Vandals” sweaters. It saddened me. The new members didn’t walk with pride, it was more like a swagger. We taunted them. “Looks like they’re taking anyone now.” “You guys don’t belong.” They gave us the finger, or bullied us, or swore at us in return, but they knew we were right.

Belonging to the club didn’t seem to make the new members better people. But the club seemed to deteriorate and pretty soon it was no more.


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