Time and memories are funny things. If something traumatic happens to you, the details of that situation can stick in your mind very clearly over long time periods (decades). If it is an average day, it is easy to forget what happened to you even just a few days later.
A short while ago, I wrote an article that described an event that happened to me and my friend Mark when we were 16 years old. In this article, I revisit that event from Mark’s perspective. The picture shown above was taken at the scene of this crime and includes me in the middle and Mark on the right-hand side in the Chicago White Sox shirt.
Although Mark and I have been friends since the third grade and we experienced the robbery together, we have not talked about it much since the event. In fact, we talk more about the day that I showed up in third grade in the middle of the year, wearing dark purple pants and a light purple long-sleeve shirt! Mark vividly recalls that day, when the new kid came into the classroom, directly from the city of Chicago.
We have often talked about those cars he owned, or even about the day that we were working beneath my car replacing a starter. It was during that day when we saw two girls walking by us. The second time they came by, I got out from beneath the car and stopped the girls to tell them this (even though I was full of grease and dirt!):
We want to take you girls on a date!
For many years after the robbery event, we avoided talking about it. Now almost 40 years later, we did talk about it recently and I was surprised by some of the details that Mark told me. I asked him to write down these memories so that I could write this second article of this series.
I should preface his account by telling you that Mark has been blessed with an unbelievably great memory. I think both of us are above average in this regard. Although the following picture was taken a few years after the robbery, I wanted to include it so that you could see what Mark looked like in his late teen years. Mark is the dark-haired guy on the left and the guy with the lighter hair is 3danim8 in his younger years!
The Robbery From Mark’s Perspective
As I exited the passenger side of my car and began to walk around to the back of my Firebird, the suspect car pulled up right behind us. Immediately both doors swung open and the dome light from within the suspect car illuminated the interior and I noticed two men inside.
My heart sank when the passenger stepped out and pumped a shotgun in the air and pointed it at us and said: “HOLD IT!” My immediate reaction to this was to think: “Is this a movie?”
Right at that time, Ken was exiting the driver’s side of my car and I didn’t have any time to warn him of what was happening. My first thought was to make a run for it down a nearby alley, but that idea was gone as quick as I thought about it because they moved towards us so quickly and grabbed us.
The guy with the shotgun had it pointed at Ken’s back and the guy with the pistol pressed the barrel of it to the back of my neck. All that went through my mind was thinking about what it was going to be like to get shot. How would it feel, I wondered? Will I die instantly? Will I suffer?
The feeling I had was that each of my legs were like cement blocks. I was unable to move due to the fear and I believe that I have never felt that way again. I was silent most of the time until I moved my neck and the suspect holding me said to me: “… Don’t turn around and look at me!” I told him I wasn’t going to turn around and told him he was hurting me with the barrel of his gun.
At one point during the robbery, a car had passed by as we all stood in the lighted hallway. We could easily be seen from outside due to glass windows on the hallway door. As the car passed, one suspect says to the other: “Could be a cop!”
So the suspect holding Ken lowers his shotgun from Ken’s back and the suspect holding me lowers his pistol. Seconds later after the car passed by, I could see out of the corner of my eye the shotgun go back up to Ken’s back and the pistol went back up to the back of my neck.
This behavior told me one thing: they were nervous. They were afraid of doing what the were doing to us, but I believe both Ken and I were more afraid than they were. With two guns against none, I thought this was a very lopsided fight and our lives could end as quickly as this all began.
I think I was most worried when one of the suspects said we were holding out on them and they would have to shoot us. At this point, I noticed the watch on my wrist as my hands were up against the wall, so I unclasped it over my shoulder and gave it to the guy holding me. This act seemed to calm them down.
Mind you, the whole duration of this robbery was probably no more than 5-7 minutes, but it felt like an eternity. As this situation was about to end, one of the suspects told us they were going to leave and not turn around until we heard them exit the hallway and drive away.
I honestly thought at that time that we were going to be ok and I was not really worried about getting shot once they left the hallway. I whispered to Ken not to even breathe until we heard that car pull away. I may have seen the back end of the car as they left, but I remember feeling thankful that we were both safe.
Which Details Surprised Ken?
I never knew that the shotgun guy had pumped the gun before he stuck it in my face. If I had seen him do that, I am sure I would have been even more fearful of the situation. Having a gun in your face is one thing, realizing that the bullets probably have been put into the chambers is another.
Secondly, I don’t remember the other car driving by. I also didn’t remember the guy saying he was going to shoot us, but I do remember pleading with them to NOT shoot us.
Finally, I asked Mark if he remembered the crime they committed after they robbed us. His recollection was virtually the same as mine. Now it is time for me to complete the research to finish this story. As you will see, these were not nice guys.
Final Thoughts and a Funny Story
After I told Mark that I published this story, he called me to tell me something I didn’t know. In the first picture of this article, the young man on the left side of the picture is our friend named Mike Lewter.
Mark recalled that Mike was supposed to be with us on the night of the robbery. Mark was at Mike’s house when Mike asked his father for permission to come over to my house on that night. This is how the conversation went:
Mike: Dad, can I go over to Ken’s house so we can do some weightlifting together?
Dad: No Mike, why do you want to grow your muscles anyway? The Russians are going to come over here and get you and put you to work in the salt mines because you have all those muscles!
No, I can’t make that up. I told you that Mark has a great memory.