Those of you with an older brother can probably relate to the following tale. And the older brothers will probably get a big laugh out of it too.
I had the misfortune of being born 28 months too late and became the second son in the family. And so my life was destined to be that of "John's little brother". Even though I love my brother dearly, let's set the pattern to future events. My earliest memory of my big brother was of him helping me up on a kitchen chair and telling me to stick my tongue between the two metal cooling trays on our old refrigerators freezer. I had to stand on my tippy- toes to do it. So there I hung, screaming, while he laughed. My mother soon arrived to see what all of the commotion was about. She hurriedly grabbed the tea kettle off of the stove and dumped the overly warm water all over the freezer and me. This having failed she grabbed a butter knife and used it to pry my tongue loose while adding the warm water.
To this day I don't think that I ever convinced her that it was John's work and not my own stupid idea. He of course denied the whole thing. I am told that shortly there after I stabbed a fork through his cheek. Sadly however, I have no memory of this and he has no scars to prove it.
My next memory was of walking around the side of the house and seeing my brother swinging his metal Tonka truck's blue car hauling trailer around his head on a wire. And just as I was coming around the corner it either got away from him or he let it loose. Either way the results were the same. The end of the wire ended up scratching the pupil of my left eye. Mom rushed me inside and laid me on her bed and applied cold washcloths until my dad came home from hunting. I remember him entering the room with his shotgun and two pheasants. He sat them down and came to see me. They rushed me to a hospital but there was nothing to be done. I had permanently lost the sight in that eye. Now I may have said things as a child to hurt his feelings, but I have never held him responsible for that accident. Both of these incidents happened when I was about three years old. Now lets skip ahead. Near the end of the school year when I was in the fourth grade I had another accident..
There was a gravel pit on the land adjoining the trailer park where we grew up. On this beautiful spring day John and I had taken a walk "out back" (as we called all of the surrounding lands) and on our way home we came through the "pit". Someone had taken out the end of the big hill. There we stood at it's edge looking straight down. About 15 feet below us was a small pile of loose gravel which had dislodged from the wall and it appeared to be about 3 ft. deep. John suggested that we should jump. I said "No Way" about the same time he said "You First" and pushed me over the edge.
Of course John told Mom and Dad I jumped before he could stop me.
The doctor said I must have landed toes first which caused my feet to stay deeply embedded while the rest of me flopped face forward on the ground. There were no broken bones but everything in my feet and ankles was either torn or strained. I would walk again, but I spent the whole summer on crutches.
Just about one year from that date I again had another accident. John and I were fishing down to the river.
It being a windy day we weren't having much luck in getting our fishing lines to the spots we wanted them from the top of the railroad trestle. So John decided WE were going to walk out to the pier that held up the center of the span and fish from the footings. Now there was only one problem with this. I had just gotten a new pair of shoes. Not big deal to many, but I had extra wide feet with high insteps and the only shoes I could wear had to be special ordered and cost a fortune. Needless to say my parents were always telling me to take good care of them. Getting them wet was NOT an option. I never owned a pair of tennis shoes as a kid, it was either dress shoes or barefoot. So it had to be barefoot. But what about the glass? What glass? Why the generations of people fishing usually brought pop or beer and bait and the glass containers usually ended up broken on the rocks under the bridge. Well big brother had a solution to this. Just step where I step. SURE, the minute your foot steps in the water the silt gets riled up making it impossible to see anything in a 2 ft. diameter from where you step. Just come on and be careful. DANG IT......
There is no pain like glass cutting bone. It was the top of a broken Miracle Whip jar....stuck in the bottom of my foot. I have never seen so much blood without it spurting from a wound. We are a mile from home with one bike. My darling brother told me to ride home as he continued fishing. I had to climb up the gravel to the top of the trestle get on the bike and ...pedal ??? I made it from the bridge to the road when I saw dad's car coming. Luckily he decided to come check on us boys with the rest of the family.
John told the parents that he told me not to come in the water.
The cut was too deep to stitch closed and after debriding the wound of dirt, stones and grass without the help of any anesthetics or pain killers and putting in a few stitches to re-attach everything the doctor said it would heal and I would walk again. But I spent the whole summer on crutches... again.
Now we will dance ahead to another incident I well remember. When my brother turned twelve my Great- Uncle Joe gave him a Stevens single shot 12 gauge shotgun. He got to go hunting and I got to be his dog. One day I begged him to let me shoot it just once. Finally he decided to let me, but first he was going to show me how to load it. First he emptied the live shell out of the gun. He let me hold it while he showed me the workings of the gun, how to break it open and close it, how to shoulder it and then he showed me how to pull the hammer back to make it ready to fire. And admonished me to never pull the trigger without a shell in the gun as it could damage the firing pin. Now we will load it and let you shoot it. He was standing facing me and the gun was between us pointed safely away from either of us. He pulled out a shell and dropped it into the chamber. Then he put his hands over to mine as we snapped the gun closed. KaBOOM!!! Someone had forgotten to release the hammer before we loaded the gun. (I didn't know about this until MUCH later) My brother yelled "You tried to shoot me." I showed him that my fingers were nowhere near the trigger and his hand was still over mine, I couldn't have pulled the trigger.
The first words out of his mouth when we got home to our parents was how I tried to blow his head off.
I was in trouble, again, for doing just what my parents had always told me to do...."Listen to your brother and do what he says." All he had to say was, "But I told him NOT to" or "Who are you going to believe, me or HIM." Well for some reason they always believed him. I guess age has it's privileges.
Fort Stanton Ride
2 weeks ago