Well, tales of stitches, broken bones, and casts. This will be in “Notes About Growing Up” which I am editing now.
Many kids, especially young boys, wind up breaking arms and legs and getting stitches as they romp about playing and sometimes doing things they should not have. Was I any different? Of course I wasn’t and I have the stories and the scars to prove it. To wit:
Breaking my arm. This is a funny one. We were at TR’s house in his front yard playing with our cousins Paul and Mike Seyler and their friends George and Jack Highfill. What were we playing? Not hide and seek or tag but throw me and my sister on a big tire inner tube and see if we would bounce. Two of them would pick me or Terry up and toss us in the direction of the inflated inner tube hoping we would hit its die and bounce. Well, we never seemed to hit the thing, we would hit the ground and the bigger boys would grab one of us and try it again. But one time Paul and one of the Highfills did score, I hit the tube, bounced, and then hit the ground, but not in a good way. I jerked up screaming and holding my left arm and ran in TR’s house to my mom and Aunt Mildred (Sissie). They took me to Denton to Flow Memorial Hospital’s emergency room and X-rayed me: I had cracked my left wrist. They put me in a cast which I wore for six weeks as a first grader which my class mates signed and made playing on the jungle gym kind of hard. But one other thing I recall is how mad Sissie got mad at Paul, boy did he catch Hell for that! I do not know how much trouble the Highfills (or my cousin Mike) got into but I could ask George one day (he’s a Facebook friend you see as is Cousin Paul). Finally as an adult I broke my right arm but that is another tale for another book.
Busting my knee open. Another weird one – aren’t they all? In third grade my friends and I were playing Army and had my sister and her friend Jackie Johnson tied up to our mailbox on Hampton Road as mock prisoner s of war – Germans of course in our imaginary war. When a car drove by we played like it was a Wehrmacht Panzer and jumped in the ditch and pretended to fire bazookas at it.
We did this several times until I became a real casualty of this little war. A car came by and I jumped into our make believe trench that was the bar ditch and my knee landed on a broken bottle. I jumped up shrieking grabbing my knee which was squiring blood out like crazy.
My sister screamed to be untied and followed me in. Mom or dad put me up on the washer or dryer and my knee was split wide open and the inside of it looked like mashed up tator tots and lots of ketchup! We rushed to the hospital and they stitched me up (dozens of stitches I might add) and put on a big bandage I had to wear for two or three weeks. My dad feared I might have permanent damage and according to my mom the sight of my bloody knee actually made him sick, something I would have never expected. I could not bend my leg and had to sit with it propped up in class. As a result I could not go out at recess and one student stayed in the room with me and we played with some of my toys I brought from home- I still recall Kevin Richardson and I rolling my Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars on the classroom floor. That’ll teach you to not jump into a ditch without looking first, right? Indeed it will.
My right pinky. This little incident was another fluke too. One day when were at Les Mills’ Studios taking our organ lessons I was playing on the wrought iron support of the front door’s awning by the sidewalk and street. I climbed up and down the thing until I slipped and my pinky caught a piece of iron sticking out and it sliced it right open and once more my blood was squirting all over the place. So like on the other painful stories above we rushed to get me medical care and of course more deadening, stitches, and pain.
Now as I write this I am 54 years old I can still see the scars on my knee and my pinky. Brief visual reminders of how kids used to play before helicopter parents and the attempt to protect everyone from everything at all costs arose and also deprived us of some fun, albeit at the cost of stitches, bandages, and casts – that remind us to be careful after all. One learns by doing. Sometimes with a cost that is more than the teaching moment’s experience itself. But one still learns.