It’s a wonder that at sixty, I am still alive and have my body parts intact. As a kid growing up in Chillicothe, I had some close calls. I am reminded by the scars to this day. Here are but just a few examples from my first eight or nine years (the 1950's).
One day, my friend and I were throwing rocks at the window panes of an abandoned Phillips 66 station. The windows in the back were very high above the ground, more like a second story actually. As we threw rocks they would just bounce off without the desired effect.
So I got closer. I stood directly below a window that tilted out. I said, “Watch this!” I threw a rock as hard as I could. It shattered the window alright but what I didn't think about was… gravity. The exploding glass fell straight down on me!
I covered my head with my hands and screamed as the glass fragments hit the ground all about. By some miracle, not one incoming missile cut me, but I did feel the chards hitting my head and shoulders.
Another time my dad had just bought me a new “machine gun” size water gun. Wow, that was the best thing a kid could get back then! We traveled to visit my cousins in Fort Scott, Kansas. They lived near the edge of town and had cows and horses all over their property. There was a single strand of barbed wire fence that wrapped around the house to keep them out.
We went into their house and for the first time I met my new cousins. I was so excited about seeing kids my age; I wanted to show them my new water gun. I said, “I'll be right back, I want to show you something.” The water gun was outside in the truck and it was getting dark. I ran and jumped off their wooden porch not using the steps. I had not remembered about the barbed wire… The barbed wire strand caught me just above the tip of my nose and just below my eyes.
I did a backward somersault landing back on my face. I lay there crying with blood running everywhere. No doctor was called and applying a dampened compress stopped the bleeding, but I still have the scars.
Another time, it was my first two wheel bike that got the best of me. I turned the bike upside down and started playing with the pedals while spinning the wheels, you know how kids do. I was really turning the wheels fast and then it happened. Somehow, my finger got caught between the chain and the big sprocket. It only made it to the third cog in the sprocket, but I was screaming bloody murder.
Mom and a neighbor lady rushed out to help. Unfortunately, they knew nothing about bikes. When you turn the pedals backwards on the old bikes, the brake engages. This means basically that they needed to take the chain apart to get my finger out; but they did not know how to do that.
I'm still bawling like a baby and the lady next door suggested that they take my finger all the way around the sprocket to get it out! Hearing that remark, I then began yelling for "Daddy" who had gone off to work somewhere. Again, no doctor was needed. Yes, I still have a scar and a crooked middle finger from that mishap.
Finally, when I was young I loved to play hide-n-seek; I guess just like any other kid. I was really good at it and being the smallest kid in the trailer park I could fit into some really small places. My dad was home with his truck on this occasion and I thought to myself…they will never find me in the side-box of his truck! As the person who was “it” counted to a hundred, I slipped into the side-box and shut the door behind me.
I could hear everyone coming into home and I heard some being caught. But they never found me! Soon it became very quiet and I tried to open the door, but there was no handle on the inside. It was dark in there so I yelled for help, but to no avail. I found out later that all of other kids in the trailer park had been called in to eat dinner. And when a kid back then got called to eat, you stopped what you were doing and ran home.
Now it was “screaming time” but no one heard. As I struggled with the door I found another problem. My coat was caught on a hook that dad would hang stuff on. I stopped crying and worked to get it loosened. But then I realized that it was not my coat but a part of me that the hook had “hooked!”
Now my screaming took on a new sense of urgency. It had been almost an hour and finally the door opened and Mom said “I have been looking everywhere for you, you come out of there.” Still crying, I said “it” has my skin and I can't move. There must have been fifty people gathered around as they extracted me. Again, no doctor was needed.
But, I was in bed for three days healing up. It was during this recovery period that I first learned that I had another mother. She had just remarried was coming to get me and take me back to California with her to live.
Now that hurt more than anything else in my life to that point. I had to leave the Mom and Dad who had raised me since I was a baby. But it all worked out in the end and that's yet another story to tell.
Caption for Pic1. My real mom and new husband, Lloyd. They were picking me up to go to California.
Caption for Pic 2. My aunt and uncle raised me. They were Mom and Dad to me.
Caption for Pic 3. My sister and I together for the first time since we were separated years prior.
Caption for Pic 4. They (Mom and Dad) came to California to bring me back to Chillicothe.