Parents always know what’s best
All of the recent rainy and cold days bring back memories of the rain we use to have in the spring and summer months. Boy, those were good days; the first words out of mom’s mouth were, “Harold Jr., you be careful in the ditches and do not get ringworms!”
I did not even know what a ringworm was at my age, but I did know that the ditches were full of water and would be fun to play in. The rain had caused our forts to wash away and they had to be repaired because the bigger boys would be picking on Betty, Jane, Bubba and anyone else in our neighborhood that was smaller than they were.
Our ditches stretched all over the neighborhood, but our favorites ran from behind Betty and Jane’s house to Laura and Lynn Alligood’s house, almost to Nicholson Street. Our favorite ditch was the swamp behind the Jones’ house; I will talk about that later. We figured out that we had taken our tetanus shot so that took care of anything that we might catch in the dirty water. Remember the days when you left John Small School and your parents told you to walk over to the health department and get your tetanus shot?
Betty and Jane were smarter than us so they told us about the tetanus shot and the things it prevented. Ringworms were not on that list. Anyway, let me tell you about our forts in the ditches.
We had three major forts that were packed with rocks, china balls and slingshots that all got washed away in the rain. So the ringworms had to wait and repairing our lost fort was the only thing on our minds. We would let the mud squeeze between our toes in order to repair our forts and never wear our shoes, because that would tell our parents where we had been. Once we got them repaired and fully stocked we were set for the big boys in the neighborhood. I remember one fort in particular behind the twins’ house that had a roof. One night we slept in that fort and attacked Laurie and Lynn’s new doll house. Betty and Jane were involved; they will deny it to this day, but we know the truth. That was not a good idea because the ringworms might have been better than what our parents did to both of us!
Now, let me tell you about the swamp that was beside the high school. The town ditch ran all over town, and it ran under a big tile that went under Ninth Street at that time. We built a fort inside that piece of tile so that we could hide there and catch the mosquito truck that spayed for mosquitoes twice a week in the late afternoons. We could hear it coming and jumped out of our fort and ran behind it like everyone else did that grew up during my generation. The spring rains caused mosquitoes to be more abundant that time of the year. Riding our bikes behind that fogging machine was against our parents’ wishes also, but we got by with it. We all have lived to tell about it just like so many other things that we were told not to do, and should not have done. We did not have a worry in the world.
Despite my mother’s better judgment, I never caught ringworms or got sick riding behind the mosquito truck and I am thankful for that. The older I have gotten, the more I’ve come to understand how smart my parents were. We were “foot loose and fancy free” as young children growing up, and we were lucky that Dr. Dave did not have more patients. Please let me encourage all young people to listen to your parents and do exactly as they tell you because it certainly is not their first rodeo. We learned ours the hard way and do not let that happen to you.
They were the best of times with the best of friends and in the best of places — The Original Washington!