The Grapes of Wrath in 1962By Chris Rosati

When I was about 10 years old, my family lived on an older road in Hellertown, Pennsylvania. Behind our home was a dead-end alley, and beyond that was a farmhouse with a large field.Our group of neighborhood kids-nine girls and three boys-must have looked like urchins to the old man living alone in the big farmhouse. We were constantly playing in the dirt and temporarily lose our shoes, to our parents’ chagrin.While we “hung out and stuff” in the quiet alley, we’d watch the man’s large rows of grapevines mature into fountains of desirable fruit.On one particularly hot summer day, watching wasn’t good enough. We threw our collective conscience to the wind and Snuck over to the grapevines, where we hurriedly broke some branches off ? but not quickly enough.A booming, deep voice came at us from out of the clear, blue sky, “Hey, what are you kids doing there in the grapevines? Get out of there right now!”We headed for hiding as fast as our feet could carry us, the girls huddling together to watch the sky for the face belonging to the giant voice.One of the girls finally said, “That was God! He knows we stole the grapes, and now we’re all going straight to hell!” In only a moment, we also realized that our parents most likely heard God’s loud voice, too, and hell took a backseat to our new fears.Finally, one of the boys, after scoping out the area and becoming annoyed with the “sissy girls,” said, “Nah! Look up at the back window of the farmhouse.” He pointed out a loudspeaker mounted on the windowsill and explained that the man who lived there was a signalman for the railroad that ran right past his house.We all breathed a sigh of relief, until we thought of our parents again. But apparently, our parents hadn’t heard the booming voice after all.The next day, the man from the farmhouse came to the alley with a paper bag and called out to us, “Hey, you kids, come over here!” We were all shivering a bit now, but we approached the man as a group.”Here’s some grapes for each of you,” the old man said. “Next time, ask me for grapes; don’t steal them.”He went on to explain that we could easily and permanently damage the vines. We voiced many repentances and thank-yous before the man returned home, leaving us to those wonderful gifts of nectar.We never helped ourselves to grapes again, nor did we ever muster the nerve to ask for more grapes. But every once in a while, the old man would call us over and hand us a bag full of the fruit, plenty for us all and then some. It’s one of the fondest memories from my childhood summers.

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