Thursday, March 28

I was bored…I had set around all day long awaiting the guys return from their cousin’s house where they were made to go and visit. I couldn’t poke fun at them, for there were times I was required to go to a relative’s house for the same type of nonsense visit. How were you to convince your parents that it was deadly boring to sit at your aunt so-and-so’s house all afternoon when she didn’t care if you were there or not? After all, once you reach twelve years old, you’re old enough to stay by yourself and deal with anything in life that might come up while your parents are away anyway.

I waited and waited, watching whatever was on one of the three channels we got on TV. Finally, I decided to go for a bike ride down the woods road, just for something to do before it got dark, because we had already had dinner and it would be dark soon. I guess the guys won’t get home until after dark and then they will have to do homework and get cleaned up for bed. After all, tomorrow is a school day. Mom warned me to make sure I was back by dark. Yesssss Mommmmm, I chided in a long out drawn manner…silently voicing my displeasure for hearing that same threat all the time.

How many times I wanted to just say, “Or what?”, or maybe…“I’ll do as I dammed well please, okay?”…or maybe even “Don’t worry about it”.

Yeah right…that would be like the little mouse flippin’ off the hawk as it approaches with talons flared and ready for the kill. My last great act of defiance…

My Dad would beat me senseless if I ever talked to my Mom like that. That is after my Mom whipped me from head to toe with her little flimsy, whippy forsythia switch, leaving welts all around my body as the switch contacted my butt and wrapped its full length around me, all but cutting the flesh as it licked at my tender skin. Child abuse by today’s standards I’m sure…but normal punishment back then for not following directions or parental protocol for being a “SPEAK WHEN SPOKEN TO KID” which was how it was then! We were never killed or even tortured by that…to the contrary, we were made to understand to remain straight and fly right. That was training that followed me all through life and I and proud to report that I have tons of friends and was never jailed in the sixty-two years I’ve walked this earth.

Back to twelve years old in 1963…

I jumped on my bike, hoping my long, drawn out sass didn’t sound too bad…buying me a talking to, or a cuff along the head. I started peddling and heading across the yard to the driveway, turned right and shot past my grandparent’s car, heading for the woods road at the edge of their yard. In a flash, I cleared their yard and rifled down the old woods road at near warp speed. I peddled along the red clay trail to the old mine pit, where I would enter the old mining road leading to the old ore pit that we used to fish in.

Before I got to the pit, I came onto our neighbor riding in his jeep. Bob was just puttering around with Dave, my friend from down the road, so when they asked me if I wanted to ride along, I said sure. I hid my bike in a stand of sumac bushes and jumped into the rear seat of the rag top jeep. Off we went, touring all over as Bob turned unto the old railroad bed that lead to a town on the other side of the Barrens. I wasn’t concerned, because even though it was fifteen miles to Pine Grove Mills, we would be back in time for me to get home.

UNTIL we sputtered to a stop some twelve miles from home. We had just broken down. The engine turned over, but wouldn’t fire off.

Great…just great. I was twenty minutes from home and now stranded with Bob and Dave near Pine Grove.

No cell phones in those days. You had to have money and be near a pay phone. Very few people would let you use their phone because every call away from your area cost money. I was stuck…or I had to start walking. I knew if I stayed there I was dead…and if I started for home, I had to go the long way to pick up my bike…BUT, if Bob got his jeep running, they would pick me up on the way back, so I bid them farewell and was off.

I ran down the railroad bed as fast and as long as I could before tiring and having to walk. Wow, it was getting dark, so I knew it was an ass bustin’ coming no matter what, but the later the worse it got…so I ran some more.

I never did see Bob and Dave before getting to my bike. When I got there I was almost ready to pass out. I was soaked from sweating in the sweltering 82° humid evening air. I popped onto my bike and peddled for all I was worth, as it became difficult to see the road now.  

When I pulled into my yard, I jumped off the bike and stumbled into the house, leaving the bike to find its own landing place…

As I prepared myself for a beating from Mom for being late, I noticed no one was in the kitchen awaiting my return. There on the table was a note from Mom, saying she took my brother and went over to see my Grandmother…and I was to get washed up and ready for bed until they returned…

I went outside into the now cooler night air and leaned over the banister at the end of the porch and threw up.
Years later I thought of that evening and figured God had granted me a stay of execution for my attempt to get home…because after all, you know…it wasn’t my fault. I also had a faint realization that it could have been a lesson for a smart assed kid that sassed his Mom un-necessarily….who knows.      

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