Golf Ball Indian:
Growing up in poor circumstances can lead one to be creative and sensitive to finding ways to make a buck. Being 12 years old in 1948 was no exception except to say having a paper route brought in ten dollars a month but eight dollars went to my mother and the two bucks was spread thin. So to take up the slack some of us kids went down to the Tuxedo Golf Course which was eighteen holes and looked for golf balls in the out of bound and bushy areas. It was summer vacation from school and we had time on our hands. The way it worked is if a golfer hit a golf ball into the rough he or she sometimes could not find their ball nor would they look for it too long especially if the golf course was busy with players. Where we came in was to search the roughage for the lost golf balls and then clean them up and sell them back to other golfers. We weren’t given permission to do so but they generally ignored us. Still some of the kids decided to help the golfers lose their balls by watching where a ball fell and then waiting for the golfers to start walking toward the next hole and the place of the ball they had just hit. The golfers marked the spot in their minds and on the way generally got into a conversation with the other golfers as they headed down the fairway. Meanwhile some of the kids would slither thru the grass and pick up the golf ball and then disappear until the golfer got tired of looking and gave up then spotted a new golf ball and went on with the game. Like all things the disappearance of golf balls became more than normal and the golfers and management at the golf course caught on. Now I never stole any golf balls but did find the real lost ones but as far as the golfers and management were concerned we were all guilty. I usually arrived early in the morning to look for balls but I wasn’t the only one; the early birds get the worm and in this case the golf ball. We would all search the brush and grass until the golfers started streaming in and then some revert to stealing the balls,
Well I wasn’t paying attention to the other kids I was concentrating on finding when all of a sudden someone grabbed my arm. I looked up and there was Johnny the Indian. We called him that as he was Johnny on the spot meaning he was fast and quick and some of the kids had warned us that he was on the look out for the ball stealers. Well he had me and was saying in a very soft-spoken way slurring his words but the message was clear.
You sure are in big trouble kid and there is no one here to help you. Stealing balls is going to cost you and that’s for sure. He then gave me some instruction. I am heading back to the clubhouse and I have to stop at each green and fix up some bad spots. You will ride with me in this golf cart and be with me as I fix the holes. I do not want you more than five feet away. I nodded shook my head up and down to signify I understood.
He then said they would deal with you at the clubhouse. I moaned and groaned about how unfair this was because I hadn’t stolen any golf balls. I pleaded with him to try to see my position and was sure there must be another way to take care of this My words fell on deaf ears and he said you should have thought about this before you got in trouble. Now shut up and follow me. Well he worked on five greens while he was keeping an eye on me,
He would work the damaged spot and had to stoop over many times to place a special divot of grass in the damaged area. I had been looking around and knew that at the next hole we would be close to a fence and where there was sufficient cover if I could get away. He was working this green just like all the others and was within five feet of him as he instructed. He bent over to replace a damaged spot and the opportunity came. I kicked him in the backside; he fell flat on his face and I bolted for the fence. I was long legged and was gathering speed when he tackled me. I hadn’t even made it to the fence. He picked me up by my left my arm and slapped me lightly along the right side of the head. Boy did that smart. He then swore at me and yelled. “Now you have done it” I’m taking your straight back to the clubhouse. Words came out of his mouth like a torrent and they werent audible.Then all of a sudden he started laughing. I was visibly shaken up and his laughing made it very tense and I thought I’m really in the soup this time. By then he had marched me back to the green. He spoke harshly and said what is your name and don’t lie to me. It is bad luck to lie to an Indian and kicking one in the A---is bad medicine. He seemed to change his tone then and was half laughing as he spoke to me. He said something like I don't believe it kid you actually made me look ridiculous.
I bluttered out that I was sorry and I had that slap coming but he had put me in a bad spot and I had to do something.
I looked at him and said. My mother will tongue lash me, my father has a strap with my name on it and I will have more pain at home than you can give me. He started laughing again and said. Kid you got some guts to kick me and then have the brass to make excuses for it. He then grabbed me and marched me back to the fence. I didn’t know what was coming next but I was sure it wouldn’t be good. He took a hard hold of me and put his face close to mine and said. I am going to let you go. You know why? I shook my head no and looked at him in a strange way. It was half relief and half curiosity. Show me the golf ball you stole and turn your pockets inside out. I said I didn’t steal one and I haven’t got one and did as he asked.He laughed again and said I knew that right off and was just trying to scare you. I said it worked- He laughed and said I did not count on you trying to get away but you left an impression especially on my A----.
Now get the hell out of here and don’t let me catch you again. And Kid, don’t let anyone tell you us Indians are not ok. He laughed again and walked away and I hollered back. Some Indian you are; you don’t even have a feather. He reached into his pocket and showed me a feather. I bust out laughing and so did he. This day came with a price. No golf balls to sell, no future golf balls to sell and no extra money. But who could I tell about it. If word got back to Mom I wouldn't be able to sit down for a week. No one would believe me anyway.