Gut Rumbles

September 21, 2003

how did we survive?

When I was 10 years-old, we moved into the house where my mama still lives today. At least 100 houses stand in that area now, but only about a dozen existed when first I came to live in that neighborhood. I was surounded by woods and in a perfect Huck Finn world.

I met the Moffet boys and the Salter boys. We ran the woods, played an idiotic, acrobatic game called "tree tag," where we found the biggest, hoariest live oak in the woods and ran like squirrels along the limbs to avoid being tagged by "it" and fell out of the tree every now and then. But the ground was soft and as long as you didn't land on a root, you were okay and right back up in the tree. We ate a lot of candy and junk food back then, but never got fat.

What causes that?

My daddy took me to see the movie Sparticus one Saturday. I entered my gladiator stage after that experience. Builders were throwing up houses left and right in the neighborhood, so it was no problem to find a piece of plywood, steal it, grab a handfull of nails and saw the plywood to shield porportions. Then, you built a handle to grab with your fist, you found an old lawn chair and nailed a strap to the back of your shield, and you were ready to rumble.

Of course, you had to make a sword, too. I always preferred a 4X1 inch board, because it was easy to work with, and it wasn't too heavy. I cut mine about 2 and 1/2 feet long, just like a Roman short sword, and made a really good hilt on it. Finn Moffet made a sword out of a two-by-four and he was hell for 30 seconds into a fight, but his arm got tired after that. Then, I could kill him.

We had circus games every day for an entire summer, beat each other's shields into sawdust, killed each other with bloodthirsty abandon, then just suddenly got bored with being gladiators. We found a field full of reeds that flew like spears if you cut them just right.

So, we had SPEARFIGHTS! We split into two teams and cut reeds with the energy of young boys filled with peanut butter and jelly. Once we had 100 each, the war was on. I had five guys on my team, and the enemy was lobbing random spears, one at a time, that stuck in the ground where they hit. I conceived the idea of a volley and a charge.

We launched two spears each, as quickly as we could throw them, and charged the enemy fort. We stampeded them, overran the fort and stole all their spears. VICTORY!

Why nobody ever got stabbed or had an eye put out is a mystery to me.

Somehow, doing that, we never got fat.


Back in the day when tires had inner tubes, there were the nefarious rubber band gun fun wars. Nothing like being hit in the face with a half inch wide band cut out of an innertube. The red rubber innner tubes ones made the best. Why we had eyes and noses after all of that I'll never know.

Posted by: Toad on September 21, 2003 07:18 AM

Opps forgot, Medevil knights doing tournament on bicyles with peach basket lids for shields and broom hande lances. This didn't stay popular due to the uncoordinated head on collisions and the repairs needed on the bikes.

Posted by: Toad on September 21, 2003 07:26 AM

Oh this brings back memories of dirt clod fights, jumping ramps on our bikes and riding anything with wheels down dead man's hill.

Posted by: Phill on September 21, 2003 08:03 AM

We had bottle rocket wars in our back yard for a week before and after the 4th of July - and my daddy bought the bottle rockets!
We also loved to walk on the melting ice on the pond back behind the woods when it was in the stage where it moved up and down when you walked on it - no one fell in but my dog, and then I went in after him and pulled him out and carried him the 1/2 mile back home in 32 degrees- I was 10 - and not fat.
I feel bad for kids now - most of their folks schedule them to death with soccer, dancing, whatever, that they can't go and do all the stupid shit things we did.
We had lots more fun, I'm sure of it.

Posted by: Beth on September 21, 2003 08:47 AM

My brother always managed to get firecrackers despite their being illegal in California (what isn't, that oughtn't to be?).

We had a grapefruit tree in our backyard, and all summer long the tree would drop the rejects, no bigger than a marble, to make room for the big'uns that would ripen and be sour enough when eaten to pucker everyone within seven miles.

We'd gather up a bunch of the rejected baby grapefruits of the right size, take a length of pipe, and set up a little mortar to shoot those suckers over the garage.

Last I checked, we both still had both eyes and all our fingers.

Posted by: McGehee on September 21, 2003 09:14 AM

"We ate a lot of candy and junk food back then, but never got fat.

What causes that?"

My guess is non-stop TV, computer surfing, video games.

Having every fun thing outlawed for safety reasons. Skateboarding, etc.

Hordes of lawyers just waiting for parents to sue the crap out of each other when one kid falls down and scrapes a knee in another kids driveway.

It's a sorry-assed society where kids have to sign a waiver before they even walk into their friend's front door.

Fuck lawyers, and insurance companies They are ruining this country.

Posted by: donawana on September 21, 2003 11:07 AM

At my elementary school (1960's) lunch/recess was the teachers smoke break. While they were busy puffing away on the wind protected side of the school, we hellions were engaging in non-sectarian chestnut fights in the fall, snowball fights in the winter, anything not nailed down fights in the spring.

Then they tore down the Mason hall next door. It took us about thirty seconds to start tossing the asphalt shingles like a frisbee at kids at the opposite side off the playground, who would then whip them back.

Apparently this was sufficiently dangerous that the teachers were finally compelled to stop us. What a buncha spoilsports! Nothing keeps you thin like avoiding grievious bodily harm while doing something really stupid.

Posted by: Biased Observer on September 21, 2003 11:45 AM

Thanks, Biased (or do you go by BO? ;) ) that had me LOL. We did bicycle tag every now and then; this was best when done on a dew-wet lawn.
Probably my 'best' one was when a couple friends and I built an underground camp. We started to dig a tunnel to another hole we had already dug and covered over. We had erected a tripod over the hatch to the hole so one could haul up buckets with the pulley atop the tripod while the other dug. We ran out of steam, digging is hard work, and we did not have enough wood to do a good job of shoring up the tunnel. Then the rainy northwest winter came.
One of the friends and I went out to the camp one day it wasn't raining. We ducked under the tripod, unlocked and laid back the hatch, and looked in. The water table was about 6" below ground level; the water in our hole must have been about 6' deep. No more digging until summer... (never did make it back)
The rope was still hanging from the pulley. I put one foot in the loop on one end, grabbed the rope above the loop and the other end hanging from the other side of the pulley, and began swinging back and forth under the tripod.
There was an intuition in the back of my mind that I should keep hold of both ends of the rope in the same hand, but I could not think of the exact reason why. After several swings, I decided to try it the other way. I let go of the loose end of the rope with the hand holding the looped end I was riding on. My timing was perfect. The loop with my foot in it went up so abruptly my hand was torn off the rope, the other end of the rope, still in my dumbshit hand, went down, and I plunged headfirst, straight through the hatch hole, into the water.
There was a ladder under the hatch. I found it quickly and climbed back up.
My friend was lying on the ground, helpless. As I reappeared through the hatch, streaming water, fortunately having suffered no serious scrapes or breaks in my abrupt downward entrance through the hatch, he began laughing twice as hard.
Usually, I was extremely sensitive to being laughed at, there was little that made me angrier, but this time, I couldn't hold it against him.

Posted by: Daniel Day on September 22, 2003 11:27 AM

I will never complain again when I find grapefruts, or any fruits on our land for that matter, in disformed shapes, or in odd places agian! I have skinny children!

Posted by: Jeffinna (jennifer) on September 23, 2003 01:18 AM

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