Tommy and Timmy O’Malley finished their Saturday chores in no time flat, and then they flew on their Schwinn bicycles to their friend Freddy Schmidt’s house to enlist him in their grand scheme to ride all the way from their Beverly neighborhood in Chicago to the toboggan slides in the Palos Forest Preserves and ride down them on their bikes.
They had vowed to do just that when the flew down the run on their toboggan in February, and now it was the middle of June in 1959 and the Russians hadn’t attacked yet and they had the whole, entire day yawning before them, and they had absolutely no adult supervision.
And they really wanted their pal Freddy Schmidt along for the daring expedition, because he was absolutely indefatigable and would not let them turn back. He was a goal setter and a goal achiever, and he was of good German stock and had had hard work and hard play beaten into him by his father, Karl.
“This is gonna be great,” Tommy told Timmy as they flew down the hill on 106th Street to the Schmidt house at the corner of 107th and Prospect.
“Yeah,” was all Timmy could say. Timmy and Tommy were Irish twins, meaning Timmy was almost exactly nine months younger than Tommy. Tommy was nine and Timmy was eight, but he considered himself almost nine. So he had trouble keeping up with his older brother. “Slow down, would ya?”
“Come on, little Timmy. We got a lotta ridin’ ahead of us. You better get loosened up now, and you’re never gonna make all the way to Palos.”
“I’m gonna make it. And I’m gonna beat both you and Freddy to the top, and then when we go down the chutes, I’m gonna go so fast that I’m gonna go into orbit.”
“Sure. Come on, let’s be jet fighters and go blast Freddy.”
But when the two jet fighters got to the Schmidt house they couldn’t blast their buddy because they couldn’t see him.
That’s because Freddy and his big brother Michael was standing behind an enormous mound of potting soil that had just been dumped in the Schmidt yard.
Oh, did we tell you: Karl Schmidt and his brother Hans were florists and operated a shop behind the house, with a greenhouse attached to that. They saved on labor costs by dragooning Freddy and Michael into doing all heavy shoveling and hauling.
Karl Schmidt was out supervising and when he saw the O’Malley boys appear, he said: “Just in time. We have extra shovels. Work will be good for you.”
Tommy looked at Timmy and Timmy looked at Tommy and they looked to get far away from this forced labor camp.
So Tommy said: “We were going to go for a bike ride with Freddy.”
“Freddy is not free until this dirt is all in the greenhouse. Like I said: We have shovels for both of you.” Karl Schmidt had the life-long view that all Irish were natural shirkers, so he smirked. “But then maybe you boys don’t know how to work.”
Tommy and Timmy took that as a challenge to their Irish pride, and they hopped off their bikes and set to helping Freddy and Michael, and soon they joined into a natural competition with Ireland against Germany, and in no time flat, the Irish had hauled more dirt than the Germans.
Karl Schmidt pronounced himself pleased with their efforts and allowed as how his second son could go for a bike ride with the O’Malley brothers. He had never in his life imagined that the Irish could work so hard. But then he didn’t know that they had plans to launch themselves into orbit at the Palos toboggan slides.
They did all that and they made sure to wave as they rocketed over the Schmidt greenhouse.
And, of course, they were all home in time for dinner and dutifully went to Mass the next morning with their respective parents.