Ralph Higgins

Ralph Higgins
color pencil sketch by Gayle Higgins

Quotes I Like

"If you do not take an interest in the affairs of your government, then you are doomed to live under the rule of fools."

– Plato


Sunday, September 19, 2010

"Come on Baby, Light My Fire"

I’m not sure if I was a bad kid, if I was just mischievous or if I became demented prematurely, but I was just thinking of what it was like to be raised in a large church with a bunch of buddies who were crazy.

If my dad had known what was going on behind the scenes I wouldn’t have lived to experience the true and indisputable insanity of puberty. My dad was a quiet and spiritual man with an Irish temper and the physical prowess to back it up. I loved and respected my father as I did my “Italian” mother, who was both protector and consigliere for her two sons. There were times when she would go to bat for us even when we were guilty as sin. My parents were a good team. They understood the “good cop, bad cop” routine.

I have many, many friends to this day that I have known from when we were kids in the church. But church was more than fire and brimstone for some of us. We were the pre-teen dingbats who were allowed to sit together in the back row, as long as we didn’t start a fire or a fight.

Many of our unorthodox practices would never be found in the church creed. For example, my buddy Johnny and I once snuck out of church, crept upstairs just over the auditorium and lit off a huge firecracker that brought the entire congregation to the gates of glory. My job was to “flick” it out the window, where it would not have caused a problem, but I missed it, panicked and jumped back.

Boom! The thing was like a clap of thunder inside the church. There were a few heart attacks and some “Hallelujahs,” but, in truth, the congregation had never been so uplifted and some even thought the rapture had occurred. Eventually things settled down as the deacons sprinted from the auditorium in search of the culprits.

Johnny and I were in an empty room upstairs when we heard the footsteps of the search and rescue team and the barks of the hounds. The only place we could find to hide was behind a curtain in one of the classrooms. We stood quietly with our backs to the wall and the heavy curtain touching our noses. Our hearts were pounding like the kettle drums in Space Odyssey.

What neither of us knew was that our feet were sticking out from under the curtain. Suddenly the curtain was ripped open and we were face to face with the minister’s wife. She had an angry look on her face, but must have been quite certain of the identity of the perpetrators, because she looked sternly at both of us, then slammed the curtain shut and walked away without saying a word. The only thing we could figure was that her son was normally with us on these escapades and maybe she thought he was hiding somewhere else in the room. To this day I think I saw a slight smile starting to form as she stared into the face of two of her favorite kids, both of whom must have looked terrified. Maybe it was the feet of two morons poking out from under the curtain that softened her wrath.

That’s just one of many stories, but I don’t want to give our grandsons any ideas. Can you imagine what would happen if my youngest grandson known as “Animal” ever got loose in a church?

Here he is..."Animal"


  1. Hahahaha!! He'd cause some trouble...no doubt!!

  2. Would you recommend his grandfather as a tutor?

  3. More stories...Please! I love hearing your childhood escapades. I am such a rule follower that it is hard to believe I came from such a troublemaking rebel.

  4. Shannon - I wasn't a "troublemaking rebel." That wasn't really me. It was a kid that just looked like me. I was at home doing my homework. That other kid got me into a lot of trouble with his pranks.

  5. I know better! You are still the same kid just in a bigger body.

  6. Awwww.....look at my little angel with horns! :)

  7. Ralph, love the fact your daughter (I am guessing she is that) wants to hear more. Let her hear more. It's to late to mess her up now!

  8. Malcolm -
    Yep. Both are my daughters. I don't know how they turned out to be such fantastic young women with a father like me. Maybe it was in spite of me...

  9. Being your brother, I can verify most of your stories, since I was usually close by. In fact, I frequently got blamed for your pranks because I lacked the intelligence to run away and subsequently got caught. Keep writing, Bro. I love reliving our fabulous childhood through your stories.