I’ve been thinking a lot about the fun we had growing up on Highway 81. I realize when I refer to it as “Highway 81” I;m giving it an entity all it’s own, but to me it is a place of dreams, young love, first friends, family; well, a dream that is so real to this day that I would return there in a flash if it could only happen. No a/c, none of today’s easy living amenities, but some of the happiest memories of my lifetime.
It was out there, on Highway 81 that I learned the necessary tools of my life today. I wrote my first poem, read my first book, met my first friends and probably the ones who will continue to be my best friends until our deaths. Many of them are gone on ahead now, but many remain — Diane, Lou, Margaret, Mavis among the first to come to mind. My date for our eighth grade graduation movie is gone now, but what a life he had! He was stationed at the Pentagon on 9-11. When he spoke about that at a class reunion so many years later my blood ran cold again. I knew someone in New York, mainly the son of a older couple I took care of here in Owensboro at a critical time of their lives, who worked in Manhattan, a couple of blocks from the towers, on that day. He lived across town and didn’t make it to work that morning, but I spent some tense hours with his dad before he got that call thru. Sorry, thinking about Billy made me think about Bill.
So, big Brother didn’t change much after we moved to the country. He just had a lot more space to create his mischief, and some older cousins to teach him a few more bad tricks. Not that he needed lessons on that subject. He made a “see-saw” across a barbed wire fence for us (I think it’s called a teeter-totter these days), then he held me suspended in the air on it until I fell off, ripping my right arm from the wrist to my shoulder. Not a deep cut, but I remember holding my arm in the air watching the blood pooling around the ripped flesh as I ran crying to my Mother! Sometimes I still wonder how she survived our childhood without going completely insane! She calmly got out her usual first aid tools — the old sheet, the Black Diamond Liniment, and the soapy water to clean the wound. I still have a scar to this day, but nobody I knew ever went for stitches back then. I’m sure the city kids did, but we were country kids, and my mama didn’t raise no sissies!
Big Brother didn’t stop there though. He burned our Uncle Joe’s barn down in the process of showing me how our new house was fireproof! The house was built of cinder blocks — actually fireproof, but when the holes in the blocks are stuffed with hay and a match is held to the hay, inside the hay barn–it just ain’t a pretty picture! My most vivid memory of the outcome of this however was Uncle Joe, standing among the debris the next morning, shaking his head. I later learned he only said it saved him the trouble of tearing the barn down later — meaning, of course, after he got his hay out! He was one really cool uncle!
Miss Victoria, the next generation!