One night my brother Allen and I woke up to a commotion in the hallway outside our bedroom door in the big house. The light in the kitchen across the hall was on, and we could see Mama in her nightgown and Daddy in his boxer shorts and work boots.
We must have asked Mama what was going on because she told us to stay in the bed we shared. There was a snake in the kitchen and Daddy had to kill it. The last thing I remember about that incident is Daddy carrying a three-foot long (or so it seems in my memory) snake out of the house. What a hero! He surely saved us from certain death (we didn’t know that chicken snakes are not venomous. We didn’t even know it was a chicken snake.)!
During the day we liked to play outside on a swing set that Daddy had set up in the front yard. The house was set off the black topped country road by a long dirt driveway probably a quarter of a mile, so they didn’t worry about us playing outside unsupervised. It was the early 60’s and no one had even heard of child molesters or kidnappers. Our biggest worry was avoiding wasps, snakes, and poison oak, or being caught outside without Mama during a sonic boom.
One day I must have forgotten that I didn’t need to hang upside down by my knees on the crossbar unless there was an adult present to get me down. I hung there forever, or so it seemed, screaming my head off before Daddy came running out to rescue me. I wonder where Allen was? He probably left me there on purpose. We were only two and three years old, so probably not. Again, Daddy was my hero.
Worse than getting abandoned upside down on the swing set were the jets breaking the sound barrier. You never knew when one would fly over, and the deafening boom it made when it flew faster than the speed of sound was enough to make you run for Mama, which we did often. You could tell them by the double trails of smoke their engines left, but by the time you noticed them, it was too late. It was like a giant clap of thunder, only deeper.
The big house near Van became the source of many memories. Stay tuned. . .