Mr. Van, and the broomstick.


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Carl Levitian
March 18, 2009, 11:10 AM
For most of my life I've been a huge fan of the stick for my means of non-firearm self defense. I love knives, have carried one since I was a little kid. But I never really thought of a knife as a weapon, just a daily indespensible tool. When I was getting to be a certain age when "cool" mattered, alot of the kids went off on a James Dean trip. In the late 50's switchblades were the knife of fashion, but I kept my boy scout knife. It was a better tool, and if I needed a weapon, there was always a broom around. Mr. Van taught us about brooms.

We had this scout master, Mr. Van. He was a silver haired ex-marine, and he was the demi-god of our scout troop. Our faith in him was such, that if he informed us that next weekend we were going to hike to hell, we'd be bugging our mothers to make us an asbestos scout uniform. To not follow Mr. Van was not something we'd think of doing. He was not just our scout master, he was our teacher, leader, role model, father confessor. He taught us many things, and took a bunch of 12 year olds across the doorstep of manhood.

And one day, he showed us what could be done with a broomstick.

We'd been out for a weekend campout, and on the way back stopped at the little country store by the roadside that was the first place where the dirt road came out to a paved one. Old clapboard building, peeling paint, and sagging front porch, but it had a cold Coke machine, and a shelf full of snacks inside. We all piled in for a Coke and a candy bar, and were about halfway done with our scouting of the candy bar selection when a yell of protest got our attention.

Young Jimmy Parker, one of our younger and smallest scouts had already got his stuff and had walked out on the front porch, and right into the local lowlife bully that had pulled up in a car with a few of his pals. Big guys in black t-shirts with a pack of smokes rolled up in the sleeve, duck tailed haircuts. One had taken Jimmy's unopened candy bar, and when Jimmy had protested, slapped him. They were standing around making fun of his boy scout uniform, heckling him, and pushing him around. Inside the store, we his fellow scouts were in a moment of shock, then somebody yelled for us to go help Jimmy.

Before we could respond, something shoved me aside with a force that sent me bouncing off a cooler, and I saw it was Mr. Van rushing to the front of the store. He'd been picking up a new pouch of pipe tobacco, and had been at the back of the store. As he got to the front door, he paused for a brief second, took in the scene outside, then did a strange thing. He turned to the old man behind the counter, and told him to put the broom on the bill. He then grabbed the broom that had been leaning against the wall and stood it out at an angle, then stomped down on it hard, breaking it off. He then stepped out through the screen door with a section of broom stick in his hand.

Inside, we 12 year old scouts held our breaths, not knowing what was going to happen. Somebody made the comment we should take out our scout knives and go help, but it was all over in a minute.

The biggest of the bullys looked at Mr. Van and made a comment that now they had a big boy scout to deal with. They snickered a bit, and the big guy took a step towards Mr. Van and asked him if he wanted that stick shoved up his---. Mr. Van made no reply, he just hit him.

None of us saw it come or go, it was almost to fast to see. One moment M.r Van had been standing there with the stick held in both hands about waist level, then there was this blur, and the stick wacked right into the bullys face. It was a snapping blow, and the stick was back in both of Mr.Van's hands at waist level before we were sure of what had happened. The bully let out a yell of rage and came at Mr. Van. Only Mr. Van wasn't there.

He'd taken a hopping step to the side, and jumped down off the porch and was out in the dirt parking lot. The main bully followed him and we were sure it was going to be the end of Mr. Van. Mr. Van was a lean built guy, about 6 foot or maybe a bit over, but this country store bully was a huge guy. He was taller than Mr. Van with alot more meat on him, even if alot of it was the big beer gut. His two buddys stayed on the porch, and cheered on thier friend, yelling for him to stomp the boy scout.

The bully tried to rush Mr. Van, arms out to get a hold of him and pin him down, but Mr. Van just would do this side step or back step like a boxer, and every time the broom stick would strike out with a loud wack. The bully would yell with pain, then in an increasing rage, try again to get Mr. Van. He'd come in swinging ham sized fists, but again the stick would wack, and the bully would scream in pain and killing rage. Blood was running down the bullys face from where the stick had split the flesh on his face. Again the wack on a hand, or wrist, then finally Mr. Van did this ducking side step and with both hands drove the end of the stick into the bully and gut level. There was a woosh, like someone had pushed a big bellows together, and the bully crumpled into a fetal position in the dirt of the parking lot. Blood flowed from his face, one hand, and it seemed like some of the fingers on one hand were broken. He was done. Mr. Van had beat the stuffing out of him with a little bit of broom stick. It had only taken a minute or less. I know, because I don't think we 12 year old scouts could have held our breaths much longer.

About that time the sherriffs car pulled up with the red gumball on top going, and big guy in kahki's and a badge got out. It was sorted out in a minute, and cuffs were put on the bully in the dirt. The two others had drifted to the side and run off durring all this. The sherriff asked little Jimmy if he'd do him a favor and testify that the bully had slapped him, so he, the sherriff, could charge him with assault on a minor and get rid of him for a while. Jimmy said he would. Names were taken, phone numbers and adresses. A deputy did most of that while the sherriff and Mr. Van had a talk. The sherriff had seen the globe and anchor tattoo on Mr. Van's arm and had grinned. It was summer and short sleeve shirts were the order of the day. On the sherriffs forearm was a fadded very similar tattoo. I don't know what they talked about, but it seemed like they came to a agreement. As Mr. Van was walking away, herding us back on the old school bus that belonged to the church that sponcered our scout troop, the sherriff called over to Mr. Van.

"Hey Marine!"

Mr. Van turned, and the sherriff called "Semper Fi!"

"Semper Fi!" called back Mr. Van.

It was a quiet ride home, with Mr. Van sitting up front in a thinking mood. Much later, when we got home he talked to us. Told us how sometimes the world was not a nice place, and things like this happen. Told us that we needed to know how to defend ourselves. We were told to go out to the woods before the next meeting on Friday night, and cut ourselves a stick as long as our forearm and about as thick as a broomstick, and bring it to the next meeting.

That next Friday night, we found Mr, Van had gathered a collection of sports safty gear from a handfull of different sports. Hocky face masks, catchers masks, shin guards, hocky gloves, football shoulder pads. And spare sticks. That summer a bunch of kids learned what can be done with a piece of wood. Where to hit, where to jab, how to block a knife, how to strike back right from the block. There was long stick techniques, and short stick work.

I think it may have been one of a very few truely life changing summers of my life.

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TMM
March 18, 2009, 05:51 PM
a great story... could you explain the moves you know, or direct us to a website with the same info?

wish somebody taught me things like that when i was a kid. I was pretty naive in my youth.

TMM

bikerdoc
March 18, 2009, 07:24 PM
Good story.
Lesson learned - dont screw with a man who knows how to use a stick

sixgunner455
March 20, 2009, 01:22 AM
Yet another outstanding tale, Carl. Thanks!

sm
March 20, 2009, 02:42 AM
Carl,

Thank you again for sharing.

PTK
March 20, 2009, 02:54 AM
Thank you VERY much for sharing. I just read that out to a few younger friends. I do wish we had folks like you in this area in person. :)

inclinebench
March 20, 2009, 04:02 PM
That is a great story. But I am afraid in our modern litigious society, some parents would try to have Mr. Van removed, and certainly would not allow him to teach young boys how to defend themselves. Sad times we live in. We need more Mr. Vans in this world.

bikerdoc
March 20, 2009, 04:28 PM
We need more Mr. Vans in this world.

And more Carl Levitans!

Dimis
March 20, 2009, 10:59 PM
My how things have changed
great story i just wish the world had stayed that simple cause now a days you know that even a respectable boyscout leader/marine would be criminalized into a vicious serial stick attacker even if he was defending the kids

Kingcreek
March 23, 2009, 11:59 AM
great story!
note: broomsticks are not what they used to be. ash or hickory is now pine but still better than nothing.
I've used black locust for most of my "walking" sticks but I cut some osage orange (aka hedge around here) and planked it through a band saw and its making some real sweet sticks- thinner but strong as hell.

Gunfighter123
March 23, 2009, 12:56 PM
I agree that broomsticks are not made like thay used to be.

About 8 years ago I tried to use a broomstick and almost got killed .

Went out to the parking lot at lunch for a smoke -- worked 2nd shift. As it was dark and a summer night , the parking lot was in dim view. So , i'm standing there and looking for my co-workers to come out --- I see a person , kneeling by my friends open car door. I walk over and as I get close { 10 feet} I see it is not my friend but a guy stealing his car stereo ---- LIKE A FOOL , I run to the building and grap a four foot broomstick that I used to clear metal chips off the lathe I worked on.
Out the door I go and this guy is still by my buddies car. I get close {4 feet} and ask "what are you doing"
--- this guy turns and stands , he's BIG , maybe 6" 6" ---- he says to me " get the fxxx out of here " and I can smell the booze on him ---- so I pull the broomstick from behind me AND HE LAUGHS and says "i'll stick that up your asse" --- I laugh and tell him to come try.

Well , he turns his back to me and when he spins around , has a 8" blade knife out --- he does a "fancy move" with it and I get this BAD FEELING he knows how to use it !!!
As he comes at me , I hit him AT LEAST 5 times in the arms/hands -- NO EFFECT !!! I dodge around a parked car and break off a car antenna -- I drop the broom and start to swing the metal antenna -- he swings the knife and I feel it rip thru my shirt -- IN A PANIC , I get lucky and hit him in the face with the antenna --- he yells in pain/anger and I get a little more distance between us.

NOW I do the smart thing -- turn and run. Maybe 30 yards away , 5 or 6 of my co-workers are seeing what is going on and they start to yell etc. The "bad guy " takes off running around the building -- I tell my friends to call the police and then I DO ANOTHER FOOLISH THING.

I run thru our building and out the other side to the street in front , looking for this guy. ALL OF A SUDDEN , a car turns on their headlights and tries to run me over !!

Yep -- he is in the car with his other scum BGs and I jump over a parked car and by the time I get up -- they are gone.

I'm shakeing like a leaf and freaked out !!! My co-workers come thru the building and tell me how close the car came to hitting me etc. -- about 5-10 minutes the police come and I tell them what happened.

They look around the cars { more then one was broken into } and they find a pair of work gloves in my friends car that has the name of the BG written on them !!!! The cops know this guy and tell me how lucky I was he didn't kill me.

Guy was on parole and I went to court etc. after he was arrested -- he got 3-5 years in the state pen.

Lessions learned ;
Get a bigger stick or better yet , something metal.

GET HELP and don't become a "dead hero " !!!

Caliper_RWVA
March 28, 2009, 10:19 AM
The guy could have just been on something and didn't feel the broomstick (scary). I think about the only brooms with a real stick anymore are some of the straw brooms. Most push brooms have the most flimsy broomsticks, I think it wold just break over the BG and not hurt that much. There's always dowel rods from the hardware store though.

The car antenna is awesome. I remember playing with one in a junkyard once and quickly realizing how effective a weapon it would be. Launches lug nuts really well too! Unfortunately, car antennas are going the way of the broom handle too.

Mp7
March 28, 2009, 12:01 PM
clapclap.

nice story. Thanks.

RyanM
March 28, 2009, 01:05 PM
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=95156&stc=1&d=1238257255

It's sad that the generations who'd be willing to stand up to help someone, even a child, are quickly dying out. Sometimes any age is too young to go.

lesterg3
March 28, 2009, 01:50 PM
Great story.

Dimis
March 28, 2009, 09:41 PM
anyone notice that figure 92 looks like christopher walken?

the people are still willing to do the right thing it just costs them more now

KevinAbbeyTech
March 28, 2009, 09:51 PM
Hmmm, Broomstick vs. Boomstick?

ssjones
March 28, 2009, 10:30 PM
"anyone notice that figure 92 looks like christopher walken?"
I think you are right! Great story Carl and very well written!

http://reluctantoptimist.files.wordpress.com/2009/03/239816.jpg?w=300&h=241

TrapperReady
March 30, 2009, 08:21 PM
Figure 89 could be captioned "General Patton pretends he has a machine gun".

seeker_two
April 3, 2009, 05:59 PM
Thanks for the story and the reminder of what a good Scoutmaster can teach.....

....somehow, I'd believe that following summer had far fewer bullies around than summers before.... ;)

Fred Fuller
April 4, 2009, 02:01 PM
http://www.geocities.com/glendoyle/bata/

lpl

If you enjoyed reading about "Mr. Van, and the broomstick." here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!