Friday, October 21, 2005

Growing Up in a Small Town

I was thinking back to my childhood and realized how thankful I am that I grew up in a small town. Sparrows Nest was the finest place on the planet for any child. I remember the warm summer nights playing in our sprawling backyard trying to catch fire flies, going down to the corner drugstore to buy a fountain soda from old Mr. Withers and sometimes bumping into Mr. James there, our mayor who also owned the local bowling alley. Every once in a while Sam would take me for a ride in his police car and let me sound the siren and flash the lights. I’m not sure why we had law enforcement in our town, nothing ever happened except for the time Mrs. Littleton’s chickens broke loose after a big storm. It was a funny site to see all these chickens running around town, one even made its way into the mailbox destroying all the letters that were to be sent out that day. Mrs. Littleton was a widow; her husband was the town drunk and was killed when he decided to take a nap on the train tracks. Rumor has it that they never found his right leg and if you go to the tracks on the anniversary of his death and listen closely you could hear something or someone crawling along the tracks. Some people say that it’s just the tracks settling while others insist it’s Jack looking for his leg. I never went to the tracks.

My town was actually kind of strange because it was as if time stood still while the rest of the world moved on. It wasn’t the 1940’s or 50’s that I grew up in, it was the 70’s and 80’s, and yet we had that laid back life from long ago that had never seemed to pass us by. It was kind of like a twighlight Zone episode.

When I was ten my friends and I discovered a cave in the hills surrounding our town. Being kids we had to explore. It was me, Tom, Glenn, Jason, and Bobby; we were the best of friends and swore to each other that we would remain friends forever. We sealed our promise by spitting on our palms and shaking hands. That was 24 years ago and the only person I ever here from now is Jason. We ventured forward into the cave, we had Glenn run back to Tom’s house to get some flash lights; Tom’s dad was a coal minor so we assumed that he had flashlights or lanterns, he brought back three lanterns. We lit the lanterns, well Jason lit the lanterns, he seemed to be an expert when it came to lighting things, which made us a little uneasy because we had our suspicions about him and the fire that was set to Mrs. Littleton’s chicken coup that killed everything inside and made the town smell like roasted chicken for 3 days. As we entered, the air started to get musty and thin, we were probably 50 yards in when we heard that sound that still haunts me today, which is a little unsettling, now being a dad. It was a sound that we were all familiar with and yet we looked at each other as if we couldn’t place it. It was the sound of a crying baby, but what was a baby doing in here? We went further trying to follow the cry, it was difficult because the sound echoed off the walls of the cave which turned out to be bigger than we had imagined. Finally after 10 or 15 minutes we came to the source of the crying. It was a baby, wrapped in a blanket placed along the side of the right cave wall. We were ten and eleven and had no clue what to do. Our suspected arsonist picked up the little guy who turned out to be a girl and began to rock her. It was pretty neat that he knew what to do; it made sense though because Jason’s mom had a baby girl last year and Jason could always be seen holding her. We exited the cave and walked down the hill until Mayor James on one of his daily strolls through town stopped us. We explained the story to him and he took the little girl to our local doctor’s office/house. The baby was healthy and it turned out that the little girl belonged to Ms. McKreely, who disappeared about a year ago. Everyone thought that she got tired of this place and just left. The story that was printed in the Sparrows Nest Tribune was that Ms. McKreely had an affair with Tom’s dad and became pregnant. Tom’s dad gave Ms. McKreely some money to leave, but she only moved a couple of towns over and lived in secrecy until she had the baby. Not wanting the responsibility she brought the baby back and put it in the place where she and Tom’s dad would always meet.

A few months later Tom’s mom and dad broke up and they both moved away. That was the last time I saw Tom. As for Glenn, Jason and Bobby, we remained friends through our teenage years. Both Glenn and Bobby went to work in the mines while Jason and I moved away with our families. Jason became a veterinarian in Delaware after serving some time for setting fire to an abandoned house that turned out to be home to several cats. Me, I moved to Pittsburgh where I attended college and currently working in the media industry.

The above recollection from my childhood is a complete work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual people and their lives is completely accidental.

Cheers,
B.

9 comments:

Lori said...

Hmmm, I sense the makings of a novel. Maybe you could work on one in your spare time! :) Of course, there's always NaNoWriMo, just a one month commitment to novel writing insanity!

BStrong said...

Lori,
Thank you for your flattering comment however, I don't even see a well written postcard in the near future. Not because of time, but because I don't feel that I have any skills when it comes to writing. I have had people tell me that they like reading my posts because my writing style is easy to read. I can take those comments as, I write like a sixth grader, or that there is a glimmer of talent that I possess.
B

angela said...

you totally had me going! i was getting all jealous that i didn't have childhood memories like yours! ghost stories, friends in a life-long saliva-bond...man, that's good stuff!

thanks for the entertaining blog! keep it up!

Kim Ayres said...

You seem to be missing a highly intelligent dog/kangaroo/dolphin who can run/bounce/swim for help/fetch lanterns/alert the authorities about illicit children stuck in the mine/well/base of the cliff...

BStrong said...

Angela,
I'm glad that I was able to entertain you. I will eventually post another.

Kim,
I'll remember that and weave it into my next story. Kangaroos, dolphins and dogs have all been done. I'll have to think up something unique, maybe a sloth. That would make for a very long story.
B

Asher Hunter said...

You had me going! I swallowed that story hook, line and stinker! Now I feel all gullible and silly. LOL. Very well written.

Stella said...

Oh what a great story, reminiscent of Huck Finn et al

Had me going too

Beckie said...

Very funny. You had me going for a while there. It was the baby story that made me start doubting. : ) My kids really are growing up in a small town and will have childhood memories somewhat like these. Our town is only 1,200 people strong...although we do, unfortunately, need our police force (if you can call it a force, that's laughable). In the last year our bank was robbed and just a couple weeks ago 2 employees of a truck-stop/gas station were murdered. (We live by a major interstate) But those occurences are so rare that they sent our little town reeling for weeks, maybe months.

Anyway...we're talking smalltown America here. At it's best. You could have been talking about us!

BStrong said...

Asher - Thank you for visiting my blog. I look forward to hearing from you again. Kim says that my next story needs some type of Lassie character. Stay tuned, you never know when the next one will pop up.

Stella - It would have been nice to grow up in a small town. "Growing up in a small town" isn't that a Mellencamp song?

Beckie - I was hesitant to use the baby but I couldn't think of anything else, it just popped into my head. News of a double murder in the city wood last for a day where I live and then the media would move on to some incredible movie premier.

1,200 people, that's pretty intimate. My mother-in-law grew up in a small town, population 350 including livestock.

Cheers to all
B