Dr. Rodney T. Hard

Nelson and Gregory in earlier days.

Nelson, Gwendolyn, and Gregory at the pool at the United States Eighth Army Camp Hialeah, Pusan, Korea.  

Nelson, Gwendolyn, and Gregory in less macho poses in 1962.

                         HIT AND RUN

                Score: Gregory 1, Hoodlums 0

By:  Dr. Rodney T. Hard

My brother Nelson was six years old and my youngest brother Greg was four years old when I took them for a walk downtown to see a movie.  I was thirteen and in 1962 the Korean theaters still showed a lot of American westerns, Tarzan movies, and the like.

My brothers' muscle posing at the swimming pool at the US Army base where my mother taught school is an indicator of the tough guy mindset we kids had, even at a young age.

After the movie, at about dusk, we were walking home through the marketplace when we came upon a big crowd watching a fight.  We were curious and decided to watch what was going on.

There was a circle perimeter of about ten gang members keeping the crowd back while one muscle bound punk was mercilessly beating up some poor rival gang member who had evidently got caught in their territory.

One hoodlum in the circle motioned to me and my brothers, telling us to leave.  With ill-conceived hubris, I retorted, "You're letting everyone else watch, why can't we?"

Several of them menacingly confronted us and told us in no uncertain terms that we were to leave immediately.  Not wanting to lose face, though I was intending to back off and leave so as not to get beat up, I said, "You sure are tough when backed up by all your buddies.  I wonder if you could handle one on one with me?"

Backed by his cohorts, he moved toward me, and I started to back-peddle.  The verbal posturing had gone too far and it was time for us to leave. 

Suddenly, the hoodlum let out an "OOF" sound as he doubled over and sunk to his knees.  Little Gregory had drawn back his fist and punched the hoodlum right between the legs.

Alarm bells went off in my head and abject terror hit me as I picked up Gregory in one hand, grabbed Nelson's hand with my other, and ran for my life.  By the time the hoodlum recovered and three of them started chasing us, we had a good head start and had already ducked down a back alley.  Three or four alleys and turns later, we stopped to catch our breath and look back.  We had lost the pursuers.  A lot of yelling at Gregory mixed with wheezing and gasping for breath changed to laughter and joy at having escaped.

We laughed all the way home talking about our great adventure.  Mom and Dad did not find out about this incident until years later at a story telling session at a family reunion.