Chapter 5

The Good Old Days

Target Practice

Like all histories, it is bound to happen that you might recall an incident that had skipped your mind. So I will go back to 1929 or so lest I forget the incident. I have already mentioned Billy Bisneau, who was a friend of my brother and I. At any rate, we wandered into an unlocked boathouse belonging to a man named Gokey, who boarded with Joe Bigwharf. There we found a box of 22 or 38 caliber cartridges. Billy was a few years older than my brother and I and naturally we idolized him and generally went along with anything he could dream up in the way of excitement.

 In this instance he thought it would be great fun to shoot off these shells. So we repaired to the back of the Shade Roller Plant. By laying the cartridges on a large rock and hitting them with a smaller rock, we managed to shoot most of them off. Afterward, when we brought the remaining shells home to our mother and explained how we had such a good time with them, she had what my father would say was a shit hemorrhage. After snatching the remaining cartridges from us and thoroughly tenderizing our nether parts, she sternly told us that forever afterwards we were not to play with Billy Bisneau.

Forever, at that time, was at least a couple of days. But in that far-off time when a day was almost a lifetime we missed the ingenuity of our friend, who certainly had an imagination equal to Tom Sawyer’s.

 Waxing Philosophic

Anyone who reads this will probably remember those long days when you were young, when each morning would start an adventure that never seemed to end. When night finally came, and you were tucked in by your mother and finally the almost equally long night was over, the day before seemed to be something of the long past. Although it was so long ago, it seems hardly longer than yesterday. I doubt that any kind at that time honestly believed that the time would come when he would be fifty or sixty or seventy. I firmly believe that when you are observing a very old man, you are actually seeing a young child locked in an elderly body. In his heart he is crying “Oh, to live once again, if only for a day, one of those endless and perfect days when I was nine or ten.” Oh well, enough of philosophy.

Sex 101

This recalls to mind another incident involving Billy Bisneau. One day while we were playing around the cattle sheds, he ventured to instruct us in the mysteries of sex, which he in turn had probably learned from an older friend. I should like to point out here that my brother and I were already well versed in this subject. My mother, whom I have never known to lie, had already told us that babies were found under cabbage plants. Apparently those women who were unwise enough to go snooping under cabbage plants and found a baby were thereafter, for some reason, stuck with it. At that time, women had their babies at home and a midwife would come in to give them a hand. I noticed that each time a new little stranger appeared, my father would tell us that my mother had fallen downstairs to explain her being in bed. Being an especially bright child, I naturally assumed she had tripped over a cabbage plant that someone had thoughtlessly left at the head of the stairs.

To get on with the story, Billy Bisneau told us some weird tale, the details of which were too horrible to relate. As it happened, a small dog was passing by which Billy immediately captured and stuck its head in a cow stanchion. He then offered to demonstrate the facts of life to us with this creature. But I think the dog was a male, because after studying this animal fore and aft, we found nothing in its anatomy that could lend credence to his story and his demonstration turned out to be a miserable failure. In a discussion with our Aunt Leona, this episode was mentioned. We were again forbidden forever to play with Billy Bisneau.

As I said, I have never known my mother to lie. Years later, when I was married and had twelve children of my own, my wife would go to the hospital and another little stranger would appear. But I was not fooled. I can go along with a gag as well as the next guy. But all the time I went with tongue in cheek to the hospital and barely concealed a smirk at the nonsense told me by the obstetrician. All the time I was desperately searching for the hospital cabbage patch which I intended to demolish forever.

One might assume that during the late twenties and all through the thirties that there was little to do, especially since there were few radios in the neighborhood. Of course, around the beginning radios were difficult to tune and were more in he nature of a scientific curiosity than a source of entertainment. Bear in mind also, that there was very little to keep one indoors, especially during those warm and early evening hours of summer. Most people would sit on their porches and chat or gossip with their neighbors, or occasionally holler at one of their children who had become a little too noisy. At that time there were no speed demons screeching their tires on a takeoff. Indeed, there were few cars at all. People then had not forgotten how to walk, and on those rare occasions when a driver went a little too fast, he could hear screams of rage all along his route and certain punishment when, not if, he was caught. There were few young and smirking punks then. The law and, of course, the adults, wou not abide either. An arrogant kid then had to be as handy with his fists as he was with his mouth, or at least have half a block start, because when you ventured to verbally assail a man, you were expected to take your licks as a man. And men had little patience with snotty teen-agers.