Storyworth wants to know about my neighborhood where I grew up. We lived on Bryan Street in Chillicothe, Missouri, a small town in North Missouri. Our home was an older three bedroom requiring constant upkeep. My younger brother and I shared a small bedroom off the back of the house next to the carport. My two sisters had their own bedroom, as did my parents. We had a back yard circled by a white picket fence, containing a shed, a clothesline, and a swing. We also had a couple of burn barrels next to the alley. Those days people burned their garbage, not sure where they dumped the ashes. We had dogs and cats for pets.
Mom was a stay at home housewife, as were most of the women in town. Dad worked for the state highway department, and would come home in a black state pick-up, until one day the higher ups decided state employees could not take state vehicles home. To make extra money he worked Saturdays at the sale barn moving livestock from pen to pen to the auction arena with a whip. He would work long hours during the summer when contractors were pouring concrete for roads in the region. One day he told his boss that he was tired of never having time off in the summer, that his kids were getting older, and he was going to take a week off and go on vacation. He didn’t get fired. We all piled into our 1959 Black Mercury station wagon, which I later named the bat mobile, and headed out west. We camped out, boys in the tent, and the women slept in the car. We drove to the top of Pike’s Peak, where there was still snow in the summer, and going back down the brakes overheated, and we had to pull into the parking lot at Santa Land to let them cool off. On the way back through South Dakota we stopped at a café in Pierre, ordered hamburgers and fries. The waitress sat down at our table and lit a cigarette. I guess it was her way of showing hospitality to out of towners. But I digress.
Our house was conveniently located. We were one block from the elementary school, and two from the high school. We were a block away from a family owned market where we did all our grocery shopping. Supermarkets were yet to come. During the summer and after school I would run with the local boys like a pack of wild dogs. We would play cowboys and Indians and sword fight with sticks and laths. I don’t think anyone ever got seriously injured. Sometimes dogs would run with us and get into dog fights, which we’d try to break up. When I got into junior-high I had a paper route and learned to avoid vicious dogs. “Oh, he won’t hurt you,” she said as her mutt sank his teeth into my pant leg.
Some days I would go down to the creek with my BB gun and shoot at frogs. I don’t think I killed any, but one day I was able to capture a frog and put him in a coffee can and took him home. I had heard that frogs hibernate and come back to life in the Spring. I decided to experiment and covered my frog with water and put him in the freezer. The next day I took him out and put him on the counter to thaw. When the ice melted, he just floated there and was as dead as a door nail. My mother freaked out. So much for reincarnation.