About a mile and a half. Thirty minutes. From Varnum Drive to Main Street in East Greenwich, I’d make the trip in the early 70′s. Sometimes via First Avenue, sometimes via Division Street. Division Street meant walking up, then down the hill.
Anne Marie and I walked to Woolworth’s. We stood gazing at a Rolling Stones album. It cost $5.99 and the cover was a pair of jeans, but pretty much only the zipper. And the zipper worked but there wasn’t anything behind it. My mother never would have allowed that album in the house. Besides, we only had money for singles. She picked “Joy to the World” and I chose “If.” Three Dog Night and Bread.
Sometimes I’d meet up with Kathy. She lived off Love Lane and would be waiting for me on Division as I trudged up the hill. Then we would saunter down to Main Street, for pizza at Two Guys from Italy, or the sweet and sour combination plate at Cathay Garden (egg roll, chow mein, sweet and sour pork – $2.50). Maybe stop at Earnshaw’s afterward.
My favorite place to spend allowance money was the Buz Terry Music store. I could browse sheet music to all the latest songs. If I bought one, I’d bring it to Mrs. Bowser on Hall Street when I had my piano lesson on Wednesday afternoon. I bought the sheet music to “Half-Breed,” and it had a great photo of Cher on the cover, all dressed up in animal skins and feathers. One dollar.
One day, I was walking alone and had just passed the fork at Division and First. I was continuing up Division when a guy on a motorcycle stopped and asked me if a wanted a ride. He had long hair and a beard, and was wearing faded bell-bottoms. I was probably fourteen. I knew I wasn’t supposed to take rides from strangers, but I accepted. I’d never been on a motorcycle before. So I climbed on the back and he sped up the hill, then coasted downhill to the post office on the corner. When he stopped, I climbed off. He asked me if I wanted to do something with him, and I told him I was going shopping. He peered at me and might have figured out I wasn’t even close to eighteen. He shook his head and peeled away.