The Stolen Goggles

The Stolen Goggles
Most of us who were fortunate enough to have both parents present while growing up, probably remember Dad more so than Mom as the chief disciplinarian in the family. Not always so in the Potchak household – If Dad was working second or third shift, Mom was fully capable of handling the family and any mischief her boys may have encountered. And….

As we grow older, there are countless times when we all have asked ourselves, “What was I thinking?” or “Why did I do that?” Such was the case AGAIN, here. Come to think of it, maybe I shouldn’t make that assumption about “all” of us – maybe it should be directed to only “me.”

I spotted those nifty goggles in 7th grade shop class and thought they really looked neat. And the image of me wearing them, while sled riding in the fields behind the house, gave me the look of a cool dude, I thought. You know – like the Lone Ranger. In retrospect, I probably looked more like a raccoon. After all…..

They were welder’s goggles! They were so thick and so dark absolutely no normal, daytime sunlight could penetrate the lens. Ordinary vision wasn’t possible at all while wearing them, let alone trying to steer a sled on ice-covered fields. Those goggles may have been safe for observing an eclipse, but they sure weren’t safe in my gym towel that day when I snuck them home.

Forgetting that they were in the rolled towel, (Book bags and gym bags hadn’t been invented yet.) I tossed the heap into the hamper. I know it wasn’t a minute later, and I suddenly remembered the goggles were in there too. But Mom was on top of laundry duty that day, and when I returned to retrieve them, there she stood with those welding goggles in her hand.

I’ll spare you the ten minutes of reasons, excuses, and arguments I gave her. None of them could hold snow anyway. Her mind was set – I had to return them or she would march me down to the school and witness my confession to the shop teacher while she and the whole class stood by to watch.

Oh boy! Shop class followed Phys Ed. How was I going to conceal those raccoon goggles during gym class, and then sneak them back into the shop, without my cronies noticing?

I didn’t have a chance – they noticed! And the word spread, “Dave’s mom is making him bring back the goggles he stole.” Ha Ha Ha – Oh, the memories!

Of course, the next period, they also told the shop teacher. So I got it from both ends. My parents knew and so did the teacher. If there is any consolation in this story, I didn’t have to SNEAK the goggles back. I handed them over to the teacher and explained the situation.

He thanked me for their return and did not require further reprimand. I think he felt sorry for me. He sensed that I had been punished enough.

When Dad found out, I think he too felt the agony I had gone through. That was a rare time indeed where he didn’t follow up with a penalty of his own. I distinctly remember him shaking his head in awe. He was no-doubt contemplating, “Why did he do that and what was he thinking?”

You see, before parents defended a guilty child, there was a mom who thought it was better to teach that child a lesson. Before there were parents who thought their kids could do no wrong, there was a mom who knew her kids all too well. And before society accepted taboo behavior, there was a mom who tolerated no outlawed conduct, what so ever, even if her kid did resemble the Lone Ranger, wearing raccoon goggles.

My Roots - The Potchaks - circa 1927

My Roots - The Potchaks - circa 1927
From Left: Son, Steve - Dad, Frank - Mom, Anastasia (Makar) - Sons; John, Mike, Frank, Chuck (Author's Dad) - Twins, Pete & Mary - Daughter, Catherine. Photo taken in Wilmore, PA