One summer day, Dad stuck an old wooden door up in a cedar tree and made us an instant tree house. It was complete with a comfortable seating arrangement of branches, a front door ladder, and a quick escape back door down a slanted branch. We also had a special nail that held a neat, rusty hook we found, but what made our tree house the envy of all the kids we brought home after school was the bat pole.
Of course, Bat Man was our most favoritest TV show, and with that simple addition, we had reached the height of childhood joy. Whizzing down a pole at lightning speed to take off on our “Bat Bikes” to fight crime in the cornfield–it just doesn’t get any better than that.
I was a sensitive child who was always burying some half-decayed animal I’d found and scrawling a meaningful epitaph in crayon on a piece of scrap lumber. My brother chided me for this goofiness and was certain that I must have a mental imbalance.
Once I made him rescue a mouse from the jaws of death (a.k.a. a cat). After much cat shaking, Tim finally had the poor creature in hand, whereupon it bit him and died. The cat was bit put off and had no interest in a dead mouse, so there was nothing to do but bury the poor thing and go get my crayons. Tim groaned, threw up his hands, remembered the mouse bite, and went into the house to find some antiseptic.
My brother and I were really a “couple of wild indians,” as my grandma used to say, with tough-as-leather feet from running barefoot on gravel roads and a constant ring of dirt around our necks that Mom always insisted on scrubbing ’til raw and bloody before going to town.
He and I spent long hours playing cave men–the essential equipment being cow bones and bits of dog hair–chasing “dinosaurs” through head-high weeds, barefoot of course since Nikes weren’t a part of prehistoric man’s wardrobe.Thinking back on our childhood entertainments, so many relied heavily on throwing things–throwing rotten eggs at the junk pile, throwing algae from the stock tank at each other, and throwing cow pies at anything that moved. It makes me wonder why, when I wanted the Presidential Patch for Physical Fitness more than life itself, it was the throwing part I flunked. Maybe if they had let me use a cow pie…