Fifty Days of Friendship
: Gilmore by Bill Schott
My next door neighbor, Gilmore, was always the envy of me and the kids I knew. He had some supreme confidence which was a result, I suspect, of being the only child of older parents. He was sleek and slender, well-mannered, perhaps a bit smarmy, and never went without.
Garnet and Louise, his parents, were Scottish, and both projected with a brogue that made you see plaid. He was gruff and mustachioed, with silver hair which certainly exceeded conventional lengths for older citizens in the early sixties. Louise was his sweet counterpart; demure and always conservatively attired with a welcoming smile.
One might say they lavished Gilmore with whatever he thought necessary. He was the first to own and master a ten-speed, twenty-six inch Schwinn. He was soon pulling block-long wheelies, while the two-inch diameter balloon in the rear spokes gave the two-wheel vehicle the sputtering sound of a moped.
His dad ran a pool hall which closed after his death in 1965. His mother sold all the tables, and then purchased enough slot car equipment for Gilmore to establish a ballroom sized race track. It had to be forty feet long on both sides, with a straight side and a ramp, loop, tunnel, and obstacle side. It was about twenty feet wide at the far end and five at the low-speed curve end. Only two cars could run at a time, in case you thought his design was ostentatious.
There was a secret passage in the far wall, between the Oasis cigarettes and Falstaff beer signs. It led to his parents' walk-in closet (which I hid in once playing hide and seek).
When Gilmore's mom was out, we sat about smoking cigarettes which had somehow come into our possession. I remember Gilmore smoked Newport, Randolph (I'll get to him at a later time) had Camels and Winstons he snuck from his parents, and my brother Albert and I had either Pall Malls or L&Ms, depending on what our dad had bought.
We learned smoking styles from Gilmore. The first rule was that cigarettes most be held in the crotch of the index and middle finger; never by the finger tips, unless you were a girl. Another important rule was to never hot-box a smoke you were taking a puff from. Also, never let the ash get too long so it's not under your control. Though it should go without saying, always light the right end.
Gilmore was the first to get a motorcycle. It was an Indian. He had his own car, a '69 Corvair convertible, that I heard he bought when his trust fund kicked in.
Gilmore, or Gizmo, as some called him, was like a Bugs Bunny character to me, who was always a step ahead of everyone.
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