As a child I liked to destroy things, I doubt that I was unique, in fact I think that most prepubescent and adolescent boys like to destroy things, whether it be windows, lungs, livers or brain cells, boys like destruction. I think I just had a better opportunity to wreak havoc that many other boys my age. There were so many different ways to wreak havoc, the problem was getting caught, the price to pay- my father running with his arm extended cursing under his breath and saying I am going to give you a zetz like you’l never forget, beatings were regular for me- because the more things I broke the more my father had to pay- or at least “say” he will pay. I guess we are kind of lucky that our shabbos shul was different frum our weekday shul, so whenever we went there we never had money.
I am sure any of you who grew up in an apartment building can recall times when physics experiments were conducted to test the speed and power of falling items, I especially liked throwing fruits and veggies out the window. Being on the eighth floor helped in many ways. First off no one could really tell who was lobbing household products into the courtyard, and when they landed it made a lot of noise and splattered in many directions. I can honestly say that hundreds of pounds of items were lobbed out of my bedroom and kitchen windows from the age of 6 through possibly 16. Full bottles of seltzer were most exciting besides for rotten cantaloupes.
Dead trees were the one thing my father permitted us to destroy, we would be walking in the woods biding our time, wondering when we were going to go eat some Chinese food and then suddenly my dad would say, hey knock that dead tree over. Now those were words that any kid wanted to hear- it didn’t matter what it was- knocking things over was fun. You know how hard it is for a kid not to knock something over? I remember passing can displays as a kid and calculating in my head how far the exits were so I could watch the cans topple over and make a mess, hear the announcement “clean up on aisle 8” and run out the door without being detected. As a kid I was part of the rollerblade revolution, and at that time you could wear you skates into almost any store in Manhattan- so I could have escaped pretty quickly- but I never got around to knocking over canned tuna displays.
I also loved breaking bottles, and there were plenty around. In the days before the uber-wealthy moved into the upper west side, there was garbage everywhere and if you went to the park- not alone of course- because then you would be raped- but if you were there with your buddies, there was tons of bottles to break, usually we would throw them at the piled of dog doo to watch the piles explode in crap and glass shards- weird I know.
Let us not forget shul, where I must have destroyed thousands of dollars of windows and chandeliers. We went to West Side Institutional Synagogue- yes that’s the name- commonly known as WSIS. Anyway this shul was like the UWS reject shul for all those that didn’t want to go to normal shuls. After kedusha of shmona esray all the kids would leave and proceed to destroy whatever they could get their hands on.
The third floor was the ball room, big enough for foot ball, soccer and rolling people around on carts which were used for chairs traditionally. So we would play foot ball and knock down crystal pieces of the chandeliers- I have a few as souvenirs. The room had these enormous windows and I distinctly remember the one time I broke on. They were at least 6 feet tall and 6 feet wide. I kicked a ball right through it, during some sort of goalie competition. Everyone scattered- but I could hear my dad running up the stairs cursing because he knew who did it. Oh and everyone in the shul knew- I was the wildest kid after all.
One of the most destructive things we used to do- but I came up with the idea, was to unscrew the little yertzeit light bulbs- yes on shabbos (welcome to modern orthodoxy) and we would line them up in the street. When cars ran them over they exploded and the car drivers would get out because they thought their tires were popped. Pathetic I know.
I remember me and these kids from Ramaz, the cool kids always went to Ramaz- with MDS being reserved for the lesser ones. We went to the roof of the shul and dropped cinder blocks from 7 stories up, down into the backyard- now that I reminisce- we did some dead things.
I remember we had these wooden block wars in shul. We would build fortraces out of whatever materials we had and we would make shields, and then we would throw those wooden blocks that kids learn to spell with- at each other. Someone always got hurt and someone father would come up and go nuts and ask us what in the hell we thought we were doing. No one dared answer.
Then I discovered the edge company- a yeshiva guys favorite piece of reading material- containing over priced items taken out of those airplane catalogs of things you will never need. So I bought me a BB gun and a crossbow and started a high powered wave of destruction.
I used to shoot at peoples clothing with my BB gun from my apartment window. I would then look at my progress with binoculars- which came in handy for all sorts of apartment building to apartment building reconnaissance missions. One time I shot some holes in this guys pants and while looking- I noticed nhim looking right back at me with binoculars. The cross bow was used outside, and never really worked very well, I lost too many arrows. Then at 17 I got a .22 rifle and borrowed my buddies 12 gauge pump shot gun. Lets just say that I had good times with those weapons of mass destruction. Way better then throwing old bananas out of my 8th floor window.