Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 488
The story opens with the narrator explaining that
during those years between Korea and Vietnam, when rock and roll was being perfected, our neighborhood was proclaimed an Official Blight Area.
He paints a picture of a neighborhood in decline and not firmly grounded in a real time and place. He says it seemed like Richard Daley had always been the mayor and always would be and creates a sense that time is moving slowly or things aren't changing.
Things do change though. The guys form a band and spend the summer together, driving around and courting women. David says,
We’d hang around watching till the cops showed up, then scrape together some gas money and go riding ourselves, me behind the wheel and Ziggly fiddling with the radio, tuning in on the White Sox while everyone else shouted for music.
The kids are also aware of what their futures could hold if they don't walk away from the area they live and the people around them. Even when they try to do better, though, they're held back by their circumstances. The narrator says,
We had liked being the No Names at first, but had started to seem like an advertisement for an identity crisis. The No Names sounded too much like one of the tavern-sponsored softball teams the guys back from Korea had formed. Those guys had been our heroes when we were little kids. They had seemed like legends to us as they gunned around the block on Indians and Harleys while we walked home from grade school. Now they hung out at corner taverns, working on beer bellies, and played softball a couple of night a week on teams that lacked both uniforms and names.
The problem is that "there seemed to be some unspoken relationship between being nameless and being a loser." The streets around them are numbered, not named, and Debbie tells David that the north part of town is better because the streets have names.
He and his friends all try to find better paths by leaving town and making something of themselves, but ultimately they lose touch, and David isn't sure what's become of any of them beyond what they left town to do. When he returns to town as a young adult in college, he can't find any sense of them or of the person he used to be. He says,
I hadn’t been back for a couple of years. The neighborhood was mostly Mexican now, with many of the signs over the stores in Spanish, but the bars were still called the Edelweiss Tap and the Budweiser Lounge. Deejo and I had lost touch, but I heard that he’d been drafted. I made the rounds of some of the bars looking for his song on the jukeboxes, but when I couldn’t find it even in the Carta Blanca, where nothing else had changed, I gave up.
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