1963: My First Caper by (4 Stories)

Prompted By 1963

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No, I wasn’t pretending to be Batman, or Robin for that matter.  I left them where they belonged on the screen.

It was a typical Saturday morning and my beloved grandpa, who I called Papa S., apparently a name I created, just drove up.  And yes, S stood for his last name Shulak, which of course was shortened upon immigration from Shulakofsky.   We were so formal back then.

Papa S. pulled up in his navy blue 1963 Fleetwood, Cadillac, which I remember in all it’ splendor, and went inside to visit briefly with my mom, and my youngest brother, who at 2 was too young to go. It was me 7, nearing 8, and my brother 4, who had the delight of going on our regular outing to the pancake house on 13 mile and Woodward, if you know Detroit.  Or more precisely, the northwest suburbs which are distinct from the inner city.  I seem to recall it was called either The Silver Dollar Pancake House.

Eager to leave, I grabbed my younger brother’s hand and we ran and got into the car.  I’m sure I made him sit in the backseat, because that’s where we always sat.  I took the driver’s seat, closed the door and immediately pretended to drive, which is all I really intended to do.  Only, all of a sudden, I wasn’t pretending.  Now mind you, Papa S had the keys to the car.  Nevertheless, when I pulled the gear shift out of park and into rear, the car started rolling down the driveway.  I panicked.  My poor brother sat helpless in the car as it slowly rolled right into the street.  All I could think of was that I had to save my brother. I darted out of the car and ran into the house crying- help, Buddy’s in the car rolling down the driveway.   Fortunately, the driveway ended at a very short and hardly traveled street.  Happily, there was no car accident.   The car did, however, almost make its way up the sidewalk into the park across the street where it could have easily hit a tree, but luckily it didn’t.

I definitely wasn’t punished.  Nor do I recall even a harsh word hurled at me.  We made our way to the pancake house where I’m sure I gobbled up a ton of silver dollar pancakes and had my choice of at least ten flavors of syrup; boysenberry being my favorite.

I think it was on the same Saturday that when Papa S accelerated and turned onto Woodward, where the speed limit was a 45 mph, decidedly not the 25 mph it was in Huntington Woods where I lived, and my car down flung open.  Again, I panicked.  But I was able to pull the door shut without incident.  I guess the Universe was sending me a message

Profile photo of Carol Isaacson Barash Carol Isaacson Barash

Characterizations: well written


  1. Wow Carol, a caper/near/tragedy!
    Did your brother remember that incident over the years? Lucky for Retro, you did!

  2. Boysenberry syrup, yes! That detail contrasts so sweetly (syrupy sweet?) with the dark drama unfolding. A well crafted tale.

  3. Khati Hendry says:

    Strong memories for sure! I imagine your parents were so relieved everyone was safe that you still got the pancakes (and boysenberry syrup). Seems like cars back then were “unsafe at any speed” as Ralph Nader charged. Sometimes I wonder how we made it through.

  4. Laurie Levy says:

    I’m also a Motown girl, Carol!

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