In every large family there are those who have the knack of getting away with everything and those who always get caught. Unfortunately for Mike, he was one of those who always get caught. He and Bill could both be up to their necks in what they shouldn’t be doing, but Bill had the knack of stopping in time—just a little before Mike got caught.
It was that way with their Sunday shoes. One Saturday Pop was going to the shoemaker’s so he told the two of them to give him the shoes they were wearing so they could be resoled. Pop told them to put on their Sunday shoes, but warned them that he didn’t want to see so much as a scratch on them when he came back.
After Pop left for the shoemaker’s shop, Bill suggested that he and Mike go hop a streetcar. The idea was agreeable to Mike, so they walked the block to the streetcar line. Hopping a streetcar simply meant jumping on the back bumper and holding on for a free ride on the back of the car. They jumped the first car that came along. Bill landed cleanly but Mike didn’t quite get high enough and didn’t have the leverage to pull his feet up on the bumper, which meant his nice Sunday shoes were dragging along the street!
At the first opportunity, Mike jumped off, stumbling off-balance onto the sidewalk. His shoes! They weren’t scratched—they just had nice big holes burnt clear through the toes! He knew he was doomed. And then he saw it—the big mass of blue uniform, a policeman. He grabbed Mike, spun him up against a wall, pulled out his billy club, and thoroughly lashed the back of his calves with the leather thongs. He spun Mike around again, and with his face right in Mike’s said, “My name is Officer Schultz, my badge number is 742. Now you go home and tell your daddy what I just did!” Mike shook his head yes, all the while thinking no, no, no. No way to explain, just go home and face the music.
Slinking in the door, Mike spied Bill calmly sitting there like all of the world was at peace. Apparently he jumped off several blocks later, unaware of Mike’s predicament. Just then, as luck would have it, Pop walked in, looked down, and then his eyes bulged. “They’re not your Sunday shoes! They can’t be your Sunday shoes! Nobody could do that to a pair of shoes in less than an hour!”
All Mike could do was shake his head, yes. Pop just kept backing away across the room pointing down and shaking his disbelieving head. It was one of the few times Pop ever seemed unnerved. Mike doesn’t remember being punished, but he did get a new pair of Sunday shoes!