Summer was best. Long days. No school. No shirt. No shoes. But Winter has its points. There are many deeds that can be accomplished in the cloak of dark after a short day of sunshine. One of those "deeds", invented by Charlie, was called: "Hey Mister, You Dropped Something".
All that was needed to play this game was a hubcap and swift feet. (We usually substituted a tin can because we were always losing hubcaps.) The goal of the game was to convince a person driving by to stop and try to determine what had fallen off of his car.
We would hide behind the tree in Ernie's front yard or the big hedge separating Charlie's and Buddy's yard waiting patiently for a passing car. (58th Street was not a major thoroughfare.) The game was played by quickly jumping out behind a passing vehicle, throwing the tin can on the pavement and yelling, "Hey Mister, You Dropped Something". Running like hell and hiding was the next step.
If the car did not stop, you lost. If the car stopped, that was good. If the car stopped and someone got out, that was better. Best was when several people got out of the car and searched for what had fallen.
One night a newcomer to our neighborhood, Dale, was with us. Dale wanted a turn throwing the can. After several requests, we finally agreed to give him a turn. After all, Dale could throw objects straighter and harder than each of us. (Dale was to later become a professional baseball player. A pitcher, of course.)
We were hiding behind the hedges in Buddy's yard when a car rounded the corner at Ernie's house and made its way slowly toward us. Light from the glaring headlamps filtered between the branches of the hedge making distorted shadows dance quickly across the ground. Dale whispered that he was ready.
It could have happened because the car was moving so slowly. Maybe Dale was too anxious. Perhaps he just wanted to impress us on his first turn.
As the car was passing, Dale jumped out from behind the hedge and made a tremendous heave of the can with his strong right arm. The sound that came to our ears was not that of metal striking pavement, but that of metal striking metal. Dale had hit the rear of the car.
We dove under the branches of the hedge. On our bellies, afraid to breathe, we peered between hanging leaves into the darkness. Eventually, we saw a bright circle of light approach. The light seemed to be floating in air as it grew closer and closer. Too soon the light was almost directly above us illuminating the base of our hiding place. In the bright circle of light that played on the ground, we could see a pair of large, shiny, black shoes and the cuffs of dark blue pants. Then we heard a strong baritone voice above the shoes, as if coming from the sky: "What are you boys doing?"
It was quite a while before we let Dale have another turn. However, he became famous in Panama Park as the boy who hit a police car with a tin can.