We were messing around in our yard on a summer Saturday when we saw it happen. Schultzie, the McCormick’s ferocious black dachshund, had spotted a skunk and raced after it as fast as his stubby legs could carry him.
The skunk ran into a small drainpipe that ran under the road between our yard and the field beyond, and Schultzie followed without hesitation. The skunk came out and waddled into the weeds of the field, never to be seen again. Schultzie did not. Keith called for him, but he didn’t come out. We looked in one end of the drainpipe, then in the other, to see if Schultzie was close enough to grab. He wasn’t. We was back in the pipe, his stout weiner dog body firmly lodged back somewhere in the gloom. We heard him, barking furiously.
We all went home to tell our parents. Soon a crowd gathered. The adults discussed and attempted various forms of rescue, but they all failed. So, the adults did what adults did in the ’60s when something weird happened and there was no other apparent solution: they called the fire department.
The fire department! They’d never come to our neighborhood before! That was exciting news, so the crowd clustered around one end of the drainpipe grew steadily. The Dads decided it would be a good idea to bring over a cooler of cold beer, and maybe a bag of chips or two. By the time the fire department got there an impromptu party had broken out, with the adults chatting happily and savoring their beers on a hot summer day and kids racing around for a better look at the fire crew and their equipment. The trapped Schultzie, on the other hand, was largely forgotten.
The fire crew decided to try to flush Schultzie out using some kind of foam concoction. As they prepared to do so and more beers were drained, the tension built. The flushing went forward, the foam shot into the drainpipe . . . and soon Schultzie came jetting out the other side in a gout of foam and water, soaking wet and a bit scraped but otherwise none the worse for wear. The mob of kids and Moms were happy that Schultzie had survived all the excitement. The Dads, on the other hand, decided they may as well crack open another beer and discuss the fire department’s rescue technique, so they did.
It was a red-letter day on the Circle, and it was tough to sleep that night for all the excitement. That day has always been vivid in my memory. I thought then, and still think now: this is what a neighborhood should be like.