I grew up on the southwest side of Amarillo, Texas. I could walk two or three blocks and be out of town. Back then, out of town lead to vast, empty fields. They were a perfect canvas for a little boy in search of high adventure. The field that is most prominent in my memory was at the end of Hall Street where we lived. I really don’t remember how big it was. It was big enough to fulfill all of the adventure needs of a bunch of little boys. I need to tell you here and now that I have no memory of any girls ever setting foot on that vast field of clods and tumble weeds. Actually, I think it was probably illegal and most assuredly too dangerous for them.
Let me paint the picture. The field was bordered by a housing area, a farm, and another adjacent field. The neighborhood had not less than a dozen little boys aged from six to about ten, I being among them. Most parents back then ran us out of the house early on Saturday and usually did not want us back until supper. Half the time we went bare-foot. I never knew what sun block was and I didn’t care. You see, we boys back then had an agenda and the field at the end of Hall Street was the location for the fulfillment of that agenda. Our purpose back then was to re-fight every battle of World War II. I don’t have any memory of fighting any other war than that one and we never did get around to fighting the Japs. It took us all of our pre-puberty years to rid the world of the Nazis and it was desperately hard work.
This was serious business for us and our weaponry reflected it. We had two means of inflicting casualties. The primary weapon was what we called a clod. Dirt in the Texas Panhandle has enough clay in it to naturally form grenade-sized balls that we called clods. These were used mostly as direct fire weapons and they hurt. It’s a wonder we never lost a single eye ball among us. The secondary weapon we used when things got really nasty was a plain old rock. We used rocks as artillery. There were more than a few of us that left the war zone early from an artillery induced head wound.
Course, the really important part of re-fighting WWII was when and how one died. Those among us who played the role of the hated enemy usually died in a hail of bullets from the great and glorious Americans. As I usually played an American, my eventual death was a little different. (bear in mind that all of us died every Saturday on that field). The act of death was well thought out and done in such a way and manner that the maximum number of people on the field would see and be duly impressed with the way in which one met his glorious and brave end. I myself almost always died as a result of a single bullet to the heart. My death throes were without compare. Such was my bravery and love of country that before the bullet could kill me, I would manage to single-handedly destroy three Tiger tanks and an entire battalion of the toughest and most blood thirsty Nazi soldiers you’d find anywhere. I left behind a bloody and desolate battlefield with the absolute assurance that my name would be spoken of with great reverence as the savior of America. In my later years on the field, I also left behind the girl of my dreams. For reasons I don’t remember, I called her Peggy. I can still see her now, pining away at the loss of her one and only true love. It bothered me to leave Peggy all on her own so I went to war less and less as I grew past 12 or so. She eventually changed her name to Karen and we’ve been together ever since.
The field was long ago swallowed up by the neighborhood. I have no photographs of the location of our great and glorious deeds. I wonder if the residents who now populate the field know of the carnage and bravery that took place where they now live in peace.