Getting the Point

Mom had jus’ purchased six lugs of apples from the traveling fruits and vegetables salesman. They were neatly stacked up in what had been our garage, but renovated into a family rumpus room.

Both Mom and Dad were gone to Eureka as it was a few weeks before Christmas. They left Adam and me alone while they were gone.

It was a mistake. We were bored as it was raining and we weren’t allowed to go out in it—even though we had already.

So, looking for something fun to do, we decided to take a green tomato stake and some fishing line and make ourselves a bow. The remaining stakes became our arrows.

Next we needed to find ourselves a suitable target. It turned out to be easier than we thought it would be.

When our folks got home and saw how badly we had shot up the apple boxes, we got one butt-whipping each. Then we spent most of the night peeling apples for Mom to turn into pies and sauce.

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Hard Head

The sun had dropped behind the Sages Riddles by the time I came to the last deliveries in my paper route. They were down a steep, gravel road, 100 yards south of Redwood Drive.

Once finished and knowing I had to climb back uphill, I shifted to the lowest gear on my 10-speed. Then I stood up on my pedals and pumped as hard as I could.

A few seconds after reaching 101 and turning up the hill, a speeding pickup truck came over the rise. Leaning from the truck’s bed was a large cream-colored dog.

The dog and I had jus’ enough time to make eye contact, before our heads clacked together. The dog yelped, my jaw clicked shut and over the side of the hill I rolled.

My eyes were black, nose bloodied, lips like hamburger and my ears ringing. It took me a while to retrieve my bike and limp home.

And after explaining what happened and why I was later than normal, Mom responded, “Good thing you have a hard head.”

Trading Up

Both of my sisters, first Deirdre in 1967 and then Marcy two-years later, were born at Seaside Hospital in Crescent City. In order to pay for their births and Mom’s hospital stay afterward, Dad paid Dr. Kasper with a whole cow for each child he traded for with my Grandpa and Uncle.

What did our dad trade? Child labor — in the form of my brother and me.

Blackwater

The building at Redwood Drive and Highway 101, next to the former Yurok Volunteer Fire Department was originally used by Judge Hopper. But the good Judge had retired a few years earlier so the building was left unused for a while.

After a couple of years it became the business office for Bob White Realty.

However in the interim it was the community center for the small neighborhood. The center had a pool table, two or three pinball machines and a juke-box with all the current music in it.

My friend, Robin Kohse and I used to cop a few coins from my Dad’s cuss-jar and go down the street to the center to play pool and listen to tunes. Robin had even figured out how to turn the juke-box up so we could really enjoy the sound.

One late afternoon, the two of us were shooting a few rounds of pool and playing 45s from the juke-box. One of those 45’s was “Black Water,” by The Doobie Brothers.

It was one of my favorite songs and the only time I was able to hear “rock music,” besides at school or on the school bus. My parents only allowed two-kinds of music in the house: country and western.

When the song came on, the game of pool stopped and Robin and I started using our pool cues as guitars. As we strummed and sang the song at the top of our lungs, we also started dancing around the pool table.

We were so caught up in the music that we didn’t notice the figure standing in the doorway of the center. However as the music started to fade, I looked over to see Deputy Walt Woodstock watching us.

He had his arms folded across his chest, trying real hard to look tough.

Walt couldn’t hold himself back from smiling though as he started laughing. Then without a word, he turned and walked back to his patrol car.

Robin and I stood there watching out the windows of the center as Walt drove away. Then we looked at each other and started laughing until we couldn’t laugh anymore.

Evidently we didn’t have sense enough to be embarrassed about getting caught dancing around, playing air guitar.

Scareborne

We were doing exactly what we were not supposed to be doing: playing on the roof of our home. But since mom and dad were at work, we figured we could get away with it.

Dad had already warned Adam and I about climbing around on the roof. He found out we were playing on the roof after I had jumped from the house top to the redwood picnic table below and it collapsed.

One would have thought the butt-blistering I got that day would have taught me a lesson. Nope.

As I walked back and forth along the ridge of the roof, I could hear Adam calling me. He was standing on one end of the teeter-totter Dad had built a couple years earlier.

Adam wanted me to jump on the end with the hope of landing on the roof. I told him it wouldn’t work but he insisted.

He was a very good insister.

Adam shot straight up 30 feet or more then in the blink of an eye, tumbled head-over-heels into the ground. The sound of his body hitting the earth was like a plastic basket of wet clothes.

He jus’ laid there unmoving.

My first thought was that I had killed Adam — my second thought was Mom and Dad are going to kill me. In response, I ran from the backyard and into the field across from out house. I hid in the trees thinking Adam was dead.

Then I saw him in front to the house. Adam was drinking a soda as if nothing had ever happened.

Black Sock Confession

It was the afternoon of the Senior Prom. It was also the day I created a real nuisance of myself with one of my best high school friends.

It happened at Jeri’s home after I asked if I could use one of the back rooms to get dressed. Being the nice girl she was, she said yes.

This also included taking a shower.

Had Jeri known this was my idea of getting ready, I’m sure she’d have backed out of the request in a hot second.

As I recall, I was jus’ coming out of the bathroom, with puffs of steam floating over my head, when in the front door walks Jeri’s mother. The look on her face told me pretty much everything I needed to know about what sort of trouble I was in.

Jeri raced to my rescue though, explaining that I was simply there to get ready for the Prom. Her mother stopped, took a breath and relaxed.

Personally, I think Jeri saved my life that day.

Later on Jeri’s mom noted I was wearing white socks instead of the black ones, forgotten on end of my bed at home in Klamath.

She asked, “Are you trying to corrupt my two girls by wearing white socks with a formal suit?”

I didn’t have an answer and every sound that came from my mouth sounded like a stutter.

Jeri’s mother let me off the hook with a laugh. At the risk of embarrassing myself, Jeri let me borrow a pair of her black socks to resolve the problem.

So, yes, I wore a pair of girlie-socks to my Senior Prom.

Jeri was straightening the Slade-blue bow-tie I had on when she said, “You know, after all the trouble you’ve caused today, you should be taking me to the Prom.”

While I can’t do anything about not taking Jeri to the Prom that year, I do have a drawer full of black socks. And rarely have I put on a pair that I haven’t thought about that afternoon so long ago.

Never Saw It Coming

Grandpa Bill didn’t mean for it to happen. And I never saw it coming.

We were in his workshop, where he did minor horseshoe repair and other odds and ends. I was fascinated by the clanging of the hammer on the anvil and the heat and steam that poured off the furnace and water tank.

Grandpa Bill pointed out a rubber mallet that he said I could use to strike the anvil while he was heating a shoe in the fire. Happily, I picked it up and swung it as hard as I could.

The rubber hammer caught the edge of the anvil and rifled back at me. Like I said, I never saw it coming.