The Washington Times - October 21, 2008, 01:23PM

I was shocked when I heard the story about the cops arresting an 89-year-old Ohio woman who kept a boy’s football that landed in her yard.

When i was growing up, that’s what old people were expected to do. Every neighborhood that one scary old lady or old man who every kid knew would keep whatever landed in their yard. It was natural law: They were old. It was their right. They didn’t have anything else worth living for.

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Our parents would actually side with the old people. They’d say:

• “You shouldn’t have been playing with that football in the street.”

• “That’ll teach you to be more careful about where you leave your bike.”

• “Next time you have a brother, you won’t tell him to sit on that old lady’s lawn.”

Whenever something of ours landed in an old person’s yard, it provided us a moment of growth and self-discovery — an opportunity to find what we (and the old person) were really made of.

Could we jump the fence, retrieve the object and return before the old lady catches us? Would the old man shoot at us? Does the old person know our parents or where we live? These were the questions that burned in our brains in such moments, and we planned our search-and-rescue missions with military precision.

Sometimes our parents would make it an official childhood moment by making us go to the old person’s house and apologize for the inconvenience and politely ask for the ball back. Those moments still stand out in my memory as some of the scariest, sourest times of my youth.

And now, 40 years later, I find out we could have called the cops on the old lady?! We could have probably sued the old bat for all the stuff she kept!

Where’s the justice?

The only reason I was looking forward to old age was the chance to be that scary old man and keep everything that landed in my yard. I was planning to collect everything and then open my own franchise of the Sports Authority. Now what’s the point?