June 14th, 2011
It was a just like any other boring day in the summer of 1989. I was 9years old and my two best friends and I were in the familiar predicament of having nothing to do. None of our usual activities seemed like they would do the trick today. Basketball didn’t seem exciting enough, water balloon fight, not hot enough, too hot for video games inside the hot house with no air-conditioning. It was Dawud, Duane, and I. You could call us the three musketeers because we did everything together. After much debate and negotiation we arrived at one of our favorite activities of the summer, back trails. For those of my readers who aren’t familiar with what a back trail is, here is a simple explanation. Go to any block in surbarea Queens NY that is fortunate enough to possess a backyard and observe the connection of houses. If you pay close attention to your backyard and your neighbors backyards you will be able to see the path that links all the houses together on one side of the street. Whether that trail leads you crawling over low garage roofs uniformed in a row, or up a large berry tree to procure the sweet and delectable berries that stain terribly or even scaling and traversing a wooden fence like a trapeze artist from Barnum and Bailey’s circus to evade Carlos’ crazy pit-bull Zabu, back trails were always an adventure. So back to our bright idea to do a back trail, we were feeling particularly adventurous that day and decided to do one of our longest most treacherous back trails, the Jamaica Line. It was aptly named the Jamaica line because the entrance to the trail was located just outside Jamaica Park. It originated at Jamaica Park, crossed the LIRR train tracks, and two avenues and numerous unknown neighborhood houses before terminating just before Hollis avenue. With such a close proximity to Jamaica Park we were forced to become even more involved with the train tracks. We would climb the dirt hill hidden near the park entrance, and perch near the trestle. From that vantage point we thought it funny to throw rocks and pebbles at not only passing trains but also at the people passing beneath the trestle overpass where we lay in wait for any unfortunate soul to pass. It was out of nowhere when Duane yelled “Look out, the train!” we could barely turn our heads as we glimpsed the locomotive speeding down upon us without hesitation. The speed of the train causing a kind of backdraft that sent the three of us stumbling backwards, even making Dawud take a small yet hilarious stumble a few steps back down the dirt hill. (Duane and I laughed until we thought we would piss our pants watching Dawud struggle to regain his footing.) So you can imagine our distress in seeing two uniformed officers appear from out of thin air and command us to get down immediately and don’t try to run. We froze with fear as we were cornered and forced back down the dirt hill. A minute ago we were Gods atop Mt. Olympus raining down rocks rather than lightening. Now we ourselves were mortal once more, and in a lot of trouble. Turns out the train conductor, the same train that had nearly hit us…he believed he had in fact hit us and called the police to investigate. In addition someone complained some boys were throwing rocks at people off the train tracks. A short police escorted ride home later and I was at the mercy of my parents. I think I would have preferred to stay with the police officers. Well one thing is for sure, I wasn’t bored after that, and we never did the Jamaica Trail again.