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My Brother's Adventure Broke my Legs
I was not always the careful concientious grandpa you see today. And for those of you who really see something different, kindly mind your own business. I do not wish to reveal to the world that although I am in my 60's my mind is still straggling behind in the late teens. It is both a curse and a blessing and as my father observed some time ago, its a pitty that youth is wasted on the young. Now I know what he means. And for the first time I like that movie, can't remember the name, but it is about a person who is born old and gets younger as he ages. I want that for about 20 years!
In the care free days of my youth, I'm still talking about the 7 year old boy, I tried a lot of risky stuff. It is only by the grace of the all mighty and a few soundly landed whacks that I avoided a life of crime and subterfuge.
Most of my ne'er-do-wells were the fault of my brother, Butch. He was either the reason that I did the dirty deed in the first place, or the only reason I got caught. It was his fault I got caught smoking cigars, it was his fault that I got caught in a lie, and usually it was his fault that I got caught stealing, I should say, borrowing. Okay, it was stealing but it wasn't stealing for pleasure. I would only steal when I was in desperate need of something that I could not get in a conventional way. Maybe cigarettes and Nehi and Coca Cola are not really desperate needs, but to a hayseed like me, it was the simple pleasures that motivated me.
I liked the old days when the gas stations were actually “Service Stations” and the Coke Machines sat outside in front. You know the kind where the bottles are stacked up all in a row top to bottom of the machine. All you had to do was put your nickle in, open the door, and pull one of those frosty cold sodas out of the machine. Oh man, life's little pleasures. 'course, if there was no nickle, a boy needed to be clever and figure a way to outsmart the machine. That's why most kids carried church keys with them at all times. You never knew when you might need a church key and they worked equally well with the old stacked bottle machines and the cold water bath machines, you know the ones where the bottles of soda were kept cold in a cooler of water. Both of those machines could easily be defeated through the use of a church key and straw. All you had to do is reach in and pop the top off of your favorite soda and quickly stick the straw in and drink as fast as you could. Then the other brother or pal could go in for a quick drink and then both of you could high tail it out of there full of soda and with a a darn good laugh.
Goin to Church
The trouble with that kind of thinking is that you cannot commit crimes without following them up with a couple of lies. Now on Sunday, we learnt that both of those are sins and that our souls were in jeopardy. Fortunately, I knew a couple of stories about the preacher that showed me a way of escaping sin. He was a sinner too and he was forgiven every Sunday. I figured early on that was the way to go. I never missed a Sunday goin' to church for a long time because I needed redemption for the week's deeds. I knew why people felt so much better after goin' to church 'cuz I too felt much better and lighter and forgiven and loved. There existed a second bonus to this scheme, too. Mom would brag to her friends and my grand mother about how I never would miss church and how I might be a preacher some day. At the time I thought that I couldn't drink and gamble enough to really be a preacher but I never took that fantasy away from my mother.
Freckle Faced Trouble Makers
Summertime is like a magic time to a couple of trouble makin' freckle faced boys who are lookin' for nothin but trouble. Well this summer was no exception and was turning out to be the best of times. My brother took me places a 7 year old had no business goin'. Come to think of it, neither did an 8 year old. But there we were doing it. Exploring woods that no other human had ever seen. High jinxing the neighbor's cows and stealing milk right from the source, and borrowing things to make a fine campsite in the woods.
When we weren't at the creek capturing water dogs in an old tea kettle, or fishing, or swimming, we were making mischief along the pasture or behind the house or jumping off of stumps or digging tunnels into the hillside.
Crawling Out the Window Climbing that Cottonwood Tree
One of the things that we liked to do all the time is crawl out of the bedroom window and climb up the old cottonwood tree. We were lucky indeed to have one just outside our bedroom window. It was so perfect. We climbed out that window practically every single morning during the summer and climbed on up to the top branches. We could then swing back and forth and drop on the roof. Now you did have to be careful and mind the amount of noise you made because for some reason mom did not want us dropping on the roof. So you had to be quiet if you wanted to spend any quality time up there.
Getting down off the roof was the challenge. Butch had a little on my reach and could grab just that much farther and he could reach round the cornice and swing down to the window ledge where holding onto the cottonwood and the window frame he was able to somehow grasp the window ledge and prise himself in. I, on the other hand, could never accomplish this task without assistance. For me, it took a leap of faith, and a good hold on the cottonwood and a snatch from my older brother and I could land in a place where I could also be prised into the window opening as well. The whole plan resulted in disaster only a couple of times. Fortunately, we had stacked some boxes and other stuff below to break our fall if it came to that.
Cat Stuck in a Tree
We had pulled this trick dozens of times. Never one time when we were climbing up the house, did we think about how to get down. We just always did. And It always worked out. I cannot tell you how many times we passed beyond the point of no return in our lives and never once died. We got close a couple of times, but we survived. I can still remember that day as if it were yesterday. In a way it was. I got up on the roof of the house and we did the usual scaring birds and such. But when it came time to get off the roof, I lost my nerve. I have no idea why. Isn't that simple? Something I had done at least a hundred times, I suddenly could not do.
I was like a cat in a tree, no problem getting up there and no amount of coaxing could bring me down. Even that darned cottonwood seemed somehow that day to have a frightful appearance. Thinking back, I can only think of that tree as a black and white tree. Odd isn't it?
Arms wide open!
Anyway there were not very many options open to us. Butch told me to go around to the other end of the house and he would come around and we would think of something to do. I fearfully scooted to the other end of the house and waited for Butch. He did come around but I did not like his solution. It was to jump. He assured me that he would catch me. “Jump, jump, I will catch you.” He called. It took nerves of steel and I had to close my eyes, but eventually I did jump into what I thought were his open arms. Him down there on the ground reaching for me, promising that he would catch me. And me flying through the air. I landed on the ground, Butch had miscalculated the trajectory and was about 20 feet too far from the house. I was exhilarated, I had escaped death. I was however, a bit sore.
I had broken both legs. Can you believe it? Both legs! I was young and so was able to heal rapidly. But for about a month I had two legs in casts and the doctor not wanting me to heal in a crooked way, fastened my feet to a bar a little more than shoulder width and that is how I stayed for at least the next month. I had to be carried everywhere. I was 7 years old and had to be carried to the bathroom.
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