THE DAY I FELL DOWN

Lighthouse

Chantry Island lighthouse off Southampton Ontario

 

Did I lead a charmed life as an active, adventurous young boy?? Did I actually put enough preventive thought and safety planning into some of my more life-and-limb-threatening activities?  Or is it just that what was, to a horrified adult retrospect, not really that dangerous?

How did some of us ever survive to grow up? Most (but not all) of my questionable young antics involved getting high – I loved to climb things.  I have written of being 9 years old, and scrambling to the topmost branches of a mighty, old oak, located on the highest elevation in town.

When I entered my teens, a trusted friend and I often crossed the river on the arching steel support trusses, beneath the new bridge, ignoring the possible 50 foot plunge to the river below. In the summer by boat, and in the winter by walking across frozen lake ice, groups of us went to an island a mile offshore, and climbed to the top of the 100 foot lighthouse.

It is possible that large rocks, and chunks of logs got up the inner stairways, and accidently fell on the roof of the attached, unused, derelict, century-old storage shed.  When the caretakers bricked up the entrance and added a steel door with a stout padlock, I went around the back, and used the 1 ½ inch copper lightning-ground cable to reach the observation level.  Apparently, only to prove I could.  These were reconnaissance missions only – no bombing runs.  The view of a flat lake, whether liquid or frozen, isn’t really that spectacular.

In the early 1950s, what passed for the cognoscenti of our little town were all agog, waiting for the release of a book. A ‘famous writer’ from Toronto, 100 miles south, had researched 8 lighthouses in the north end of Lake Huron, including ours.  When the book finally arrived at the General Store, I managed to sneak a copy off the shelf, and quickly read what he’d written.

He said that, after climbing the circular metal stairway inside the lighthouse, the view from the top was magnificent…. only; our lighthouse had solid wooden floors every ten feet, for storage, with unrailed wooden stairs ascending from level to level, East to West, then North to South, etc.

I don’t know if he ever actually set foot on the island, or just did his research from the pub. It was the first time I caught an author lying to me.  Sadly, it wasn’t the last.

Alone, and with my friend’s help, I reached the top of many of the town’s public buildings. The arena was easy, but boring.  I got to the roof of one church, and the top of the bell-tower of another.  He and I sat on the roof of the three-storey bank building at the main intersection.  When his mother was late, and he was locked out of the second floor apartment in the building next to it, we scampered up the front and went in the balcony door, or up to the roof and down through the skylight.

The view from the top of the 120 foot water tower, next to the oak on the hill, was worth it. The climb was simple.  A steel ladder reached to within 10 feet of the ground, but was right beside the overflow pipe.  A foot placed here, and a grab there, and soon we were at the top.

It was so easy that my girlfriend caught us lurking near it one evening, as she walked to the library, and wanted to know what we were up to.  When we explained, she demanded to accompany us.  With him pulling and me providing a shoulder, we all soon enjoyed the lights in the town 5 miles away.  Crazy!

The day I fell down, I started with my feet firmly on the ground. I was in Grade 7, and returned to school after a September lunch break, to find a gaggle of boys surrounding a burly Grade 8 lad.  Slowing to eavesdrop on the conversation, I heard that he was bragging that he knew a way to make someone unconscious. ‘Bet you don’t!’ ‘I bet I do!’

To prove his claim, he needed a victim willing volunteer.  Why is everyone looking at me?  “Now you need to take a deep breath and hold it.  I’m gonna get behind you and give you a bear-hug, and squeeze you really, really hard.  Don’t forget to hold your breath!”

….and I woke up with my face embedded in the blacktop. My nose was bloody.  My lips, especially the top one, were swollen, and I’d lost a tiny chip off the corner of one front incisor.  None of us, me included, really thought this thing through, did we?

“Why did you let me fall down?” “Well, you didn’t collapse.”  “How could I?  You were holding me up.”  He’d set me down, but apparently my knees were locked.  Instead of winding up in a limp pile at his feet, (would that have been any better?) I had pitched forward, like the mighty oak up the street, plowing a furrow with my face.

Nowadays, I ingest an OxyContin, and take along a pillow if I have to wind down a window in the car. Surely none of you readers were as foolish as me.  Do you have a childhood escapade you wish to admit to?   😉

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Flash Fiction #41

Deep Freeze

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deep Freeze

Everything was black and white.  He was right, and that’s all there was to it.  He’d be damned if he was going to grovel and apologise.

Everything about their relationship had become frozen, coated with icy exchanges, every detail covered with the rime of discord.

“Honey?  I’m sorry!  I shouldn’t be so rigid.  You have the right to your opinions too.  We should learn to compromise and get along better.”

….and the sun of their former love began to shine again, bringing back the warmth and glorious colors of their past.  He could visualize a bridge back to former happiness.

 

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

 

The Fellowship Of The Blog – Episode Two

 

Jailbird

 

 

 

 

Before I set even one foot onto the WordPress savannah, to begin this meet-the-bloggers safari, I found that I was being treated like a criminal – an alleged criminal, a might-be criminal. What’s worse is, I have to admit that it’s valid.

The first stop on our trip will be a short visit with Cordelia’s Mom, in the Buffalo area. Like me, she had Cordelia, a daughter who already had a blog site.  Like me, her daughter pushed her in front of a blog-bus on the information super-highway.

Since Shimoniac and I are both about as dangerous to anyone, male or female, as a stuffed Tickle Me Elmo doll, I naively assumed we might meet at the home of one or the other. Not so!  We’re online daters, not to be trusted till we prove we can be.  We will wisely be met at a very public place.

As CM noted, “It’s not as if the writer of a long-established blogsite would turn out to be an axe-murderer.” but there are other disturbing possibilities.  I realise that it’s just as true for us.  If Shim and I follow Hansel and Gretel into the gingerbread house, we might end up being sold to white slavers.  If so, it better be by the pound.  If I cease posting, you’ll know that colonoscopy thing was just for practice.

Actually, since this trip is planned to last five days, I won’t be posting anything till early next week. Don’t despair, and please return then.

After most of a day and a night in Buffalo, we plan to wend our merry way through the Amish Paradise of eastern Ohio, to the country mansion of the Baron of the Blogsites, John Erickson. John has been off the air since about the middle of July.  Repeated emails from both AFrankAngle and me have produced no response, either from John, or his wife.  We fear the worst, but hope for the best.

While I don’t have permission to just show up, I still plan to stop by his place unannounced, to see if we can get some information. So John, if you’re reading this, that’s not the Fuller Brush man, or Avon, knocking on your door.  Failing contact with J.E. or Mrs E, I have a letter I plan to leave, telling of all our love and how we miss him, and urging him to rejoin our community.

I thought John, and perhaps his wife, might like to accompany us to the knife show just to his south, and possibly over to see the Y-shaped bridge in Zanesville, and a couple of strange S-shaped bridges nearby.

Y-bridge

 

 

 

S-bridge

 

 

**

The best-laid plans never survive the first contact with reality. The greatest chance of any success is to adapt, as much and as quickly as possible.

The son booked all three of his weeks of holidays in the summer “shutdown”, when it’s really hot in the plastics molding plant. He asked for a week of leave-of-absence for this trip.  In previous years, others have asked and were quickly granted.  After five weeks of no answer, he was suddenly told by the plant super, that they are just starting a new, large contract, and his leave was denied.  The curse of being indispensible.

In all previous references to Shimoniac, and subsequently, please read, Granma LadyBug. The wife is stocking up on antihistamines and accompanying me for an abbreviated trip.

The day we wish to leave, Cordelia has an unbreakable business meeting. We will be met instead by Cordelia’s Mom, and her mother-in-law.  While BrainRants says he’d like to meet, he has urgent family affairs to handle this weekend.  Perhaps another time….  We can only hope to find the reckless recluse, John Erickson.  This thing is coming apart faster than wet Kleenex.

We’re about to leave, carrying another $3.18 in orphaned American coinage, but promise to return with fabulous tales of genies, and Rocs, and flying carpets…. wait, that’s already been done. Whatever stories I return with, they’ll be brilliant.  See you soon.   😀

Boys’ Club

When I entered Grade 7, I was still only ten years old.  My 11th birthday didn’t occur till the end of September.  There was a boy in my class who was more than a year older than me, because, back then, they failed students who did not achieve scholastically.  Early in November, as we were both hanging our coats up, he dug into his pocket, and showed me something.  It was a bright, brass, expended .22 caliber shell.  Gun nut that I was, it was as if he’d showed me the Holy Grail.  Where had he got it?

It seemed that there was a group of boys who got together every Tuesday night, to fire 10 target practice shots, but you had to be 12 years old!  The range was in the basement of a business on the main street.  It had been a lumber supply and woodworking shop, and the range was in the concrete-lined trough where the saw and planer shavings had been dumped.  With no external lighting, it was accessed from a dark alley which ran behind the stores, not the kind of place you’d want 12/14 year old boys to be today, especially in bigger cities.

I told the men running the show that I was “almost 12”, conveniently ignoring the missing 10 months.  In a school class of 15+ boys, I was usually the third shortest.  Still, there was a boy a year older, who was even shorter.  He and I had to stand on a block of wood to get up to the firing window, where we shot standing up.  After about a year, the building changed owners, and we moved to the basement gym of the now-unused high school.  This was accessed through a rear entrance with no lights until an adult with a key came to unlock a door, invisible in the darkness.  Not much of an improvement.

I didn’t think about it at the time, but there was a lot of time and energy volunteered by a succession of adult men.  The local Game Warden’s wife couldn’t have children, so we were his surrogates for years.  The president of the men’s handgun club, as well as the vice-president and the secretary, at different times, and a police chief, and later a constable, all gave of their time.

Wooden boxes with quilt pads were provided for prone shooting, and a new target holder/bullet catcher was built.  Every meeting night started off with a lecture on firearm handling and safety.  In seven years with the club, I amassed almost 350 hours of gun responsibility training.

As social awareness and political correctness began to flower in the mid-fifties, someone must have decided that there needed to be more to our little group, than just a bunch of boys firing target rifles.  Behind the high school was a city-block sized small lake.  The town had created a pathway around it, with a couple of bridges over incoming creeks, and a couple of lookout/picnic areas, but didn’t have the finances to maintain it.  It was decided that our little club would adopt it, care for it and improve it.

We mowed the grass, raked the path, cut back weeds and branches, and helped our menfolk to mend the bridges.  We put on tag-days in the summers, when the town was full of wealthy tourists, and solicited donations from local businesses.  The shoreline moved in and out because the level of the lake varied with the seasons.  We got a concrete contractor to install, at greatly reduced charge, a small dam with a controllable spillway on the drainage stream.

We cleaned out and expanded one lookout/picnic area, and got a stone supply company to build a wishing-well, with a little spray fountain.  The coins from the fountain went for further improvements.  We bought a bunch of birds to put into the lake, including a pair of swans, four farm-type geese, and some Muscovy ducks, to attract coin-tossers to our little park.

The first summer, we lost a few birds, and some of the rest lost a foot or leg.  There were lots of scenic little mud turtles in the lake, but apparently there were also some snapping turtles with a taste for fowl.  No wonder there had been no floating natives.  Someone designed and built a snapper-trapper from heavy wire and chicken screen.  I and another lad, whose father was a commercial fisherman, were given a rowboat, and the responsibility to check the traps daily.  Turtles caught were shot by the constable and sold to a Chinese restaurant which made them into turtle soup.  We finally caught the old Grand-daddy, which was as big as a washtub.  We cleared the lake and ensured safety for our birds.

The birds’ wings were clipped so that they wouldn’t fly away, although, with daily feedings, they probably wouldn’t have strayed.  During the winters, we rented space in a farmer’s barn at the edge of town.  Pairs of us were allocated two-week periods when we stopped in daily to feed and water our feathered charges.  Fisher-boy and I would get off the school bus, do our farm chores and walk home afterwards.

A couple of years after I left home to get a job, the club dissolved.  There was just not the interest from the younger lads in town anymore, and the adults had more responsibilities and less free time.  The town took back responsibility for the lake, and replaces aging waterfowl.  They have even added a floating spray fountain a hundred feet off-shore.

This was an enjoyable part of my life, when I learned co-operation and pay-it-forward type social responsibility.  I look back on it with great fondness and pride.  I helped make a difference.