We took a tour of our old haciendas recently via showmystreet.com.
Looking at the photo of 851 Nebraska in Norman, Oklahoma — the house that I lived in until age 6 — flooded my mind with memories, some cute, but more than a few bloody.
When I clicked on our house, I could not believe that the huge, iron wagon wheels that Dad had cemented into the ground on either side of the front porch were still there after more than half a century. Thankfully, they no longer serve as trellises for rose bushes.
I fell into those suckers when I was about 3 and was trapped, and bleeding, for what seemed like an eternity. I’ve hated rose bushes ever since.
I also remember bleeding in the front yard when I was maybe 4 or so.
The neighbor’s big collie stood almost as tall as me. That qualified her as a “cow” as far as I was concerned. So it was perfectly legit for me, dressed in my favorite red cowboy boots and turquoise color cowboy shirt, to rope and then flail her when she did not “get along little doggie” as I desired. That’s when she put her alligator-like jaws around my mid-section and went “chomp”. Not that hard, but hard enough to make her point.
When I was about 5 my best friend Steve Madden and I were racing through the house, probably screaming “ponado comin,'” as you do in Oklahoma. Steve ran out the back storm door. It closed and latched right when I got there. So when I hit the glass at full speed, my right arm went right through it, slicing the entire underside open to the bone. I remember Mom wrapping my arm in a white towel that was blood red by the time we got to the doctor.
Peewee Duck Pecker
I’m not sure how much I bled, but I know how much it hurt when Peewee would peck me on the head. Somebody gave me the cute little duck for Easter, and everyone probably thought “how cute; wonder when the neighbor’s cat will get it?” But Peewee lived. And grew way big. Turned out he was a gander goose, not a duck at all.
He was mean and so territorial that I was afraid to go into our back yard, less he’d thwack my head. Even so, he was my demon goose. So when he got disappeared one day by my parents, I cried. I was placated with a lovely tale about Peewee moving to a lovely farm where, where he’d beaten up the resident goose and assumed his gaggle of girly geese. It made me proud of Peewee (but I was sure relieved he was gone).
I don’t think Blondie was bleeding when my older sister Cathy brought her home one day, but the poor little cocker spaniel pup was shivering and terrified. Cathy had seen a demon neighbor boy trying to drown her in the ditch, so Cathy punched out the kid and brought Blondie home. She was a good dog. And Cathy was awesome, especially when it involved putting bullies in their place.
Two other vivid memories don’t involve blood, but they are *strong ones nonetheless.
Hidin’ and Gettin’ a Hidin’
One memory is so vivid that it’s like a video in my head, even though I was only about 3, really little. Somehow I snuck off and climbed inside some random car that was parked in front of our house. I could peek out and see Mom, the Dad, then others searching through the bushes and then running around the house calling out my name in a panic. I thought this was great. When I leaped out of the car — surprise! — I was not given a standing ovation. I got a major whuppin’ and was told to lie on the bed and NOT to get up until told to. I did not move.
When I was even younger, maybe 18 months old, and dressed in my overalls, I would push up against the hallway, really hard, and become invisible. I don’t actually remember this. But I’ve seen a photo of me being invisible. And the look on my face is precious. You can tell I am absolutely thrilled at being invisible, at being able to stand right there, not five feet away from Mother, and yet she could not see me.
I don’t remember the woodwork carnage inside the house, but I am told it was ugly and widespread. It seems I liked to ram my pedal tractor (like a tricycle but with a tractor body) right into the walls and leave black tire marks on the woodwork. Knowing how fastidious Mom was with housecleaning, I can only assume that it was my ability to become invisible that kept me alive. That or maybe I’d run into the backyard and risk the wrath of Peewee rather than Mom. I knew she wouldn’t come after me because she was as afraid of Peewee as I was.
When I was 6, we moved about a quarter-mile west, to the “new” edition of Nebraska Street. That was such a BIG deal in Norman that the local paper wrote a story about our brand new brick house. But not everyone was happy about it. Just before we moved, I cried and cried. Then somebody finally told me that I could keep all my toys, that I did not really have to leave them for some other kid, despite what some sister might have implied, at which point I was happy to move.
In fact, I was thrilled to put as much distance between me and those flesh-ripping rose bushes as possible. Man, I hated those things.
* I would have sworn I’d already blogged about them, and a couple of others herein, but a Google search has not uncovered them. Forgive any duplications. I suffered a traumatic goose-related brain injury as a child.