Gathering the sandwiches, (peanut
butter I'm almost sure) made by my mom, rolling up the old quilt rescued
from the outbuilding (a cherished heirloom today), and taking my cherished
Montgomery Wards Western Field Single shot .22 cal rifle , I hugged my mom
and headed down stream to adventure...I was going camping by myself! I was
ten years old.
I followed Kerrs Creek for miles, into uncharted and forbidding country
which likely no white man had ever ventured, almost down to opposite the Big
Springs outlet into the creek. The afternoon was spent in fortifying my
campsite and gathering fire wood to repel the night beasts lurking behind
every tree, I cached a goodly supply of rocks suitable for throwing, near to
my hand and felt I was ready to get some sleep whenever nightfall came. it
came and I wasn't really ready, my provisions were gone, I faced the real
likelihood of starvation. The comfortable bed I had made in a sandy cove
beside the creek got rockier and rockier and the night's blackness got
deeper and darker. I soon had exhausted the batteries on my trusty Jack
Armstrong 2 cell flashlight checking out the things that lurked behind every
tree, and except for the campfire, I now was alone in the dark. My firewood
was rapidly become scarcer and scarcer and I hugged my trusty dog close to
my chest and fell asleep.
I awoke cold and hungry and wet from the morning dew, my dog had deserted me
during the night. My fire was cold and it seemed a good idea for me to head
home to food and warmth. I arrived before anyone had awakened, the back door
was unlocked and the porch light on. I fell asleep on the old wicker couch
in the living room. Mother was finally able to get rid of the fleas I had
picked up from the dog in a week or so.
A lifetime of camping has steadily gotten more comfortable and enjoyable but
none as memorable as my first solo expedition.
Can any of you of imagine being allowed
to do such a thing today with all the pedophiles lurking behind every tree!
They lurked even then, in the schools and churches and playgrounds and one
confronted and dealt with them as best one could, generally by running. It
was part of the growing up experience, the getting ready for real life
experience. Our parents did not think they had to protect us every hour of
the day. As we grew in wisdom, they recognized it and slowly, ever so
slowly, slackened the bonds that kept us near. I imagine most of us by the
time we were 15 or 16 has escaped death by drowning, falling, cutting, and
other things many more times than we ever told anyone. By that time we were
pretty well prepared to stumble through life, doing the best we could to be
honest and honorable individuals!