(NOTE: The following is a preview for a book I am working on. Some of the stories will appear here and some will be only in the book. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I have enjoyed writing it).
I remember one typical summer day back on Hall Street in Amarillo, Texas. I was in my front yard with several of my neighborhood buddies. We were gathering to head off to one of the four or five fields we used to play in. The last of the bunch showed up on their bicycles. As they pulled up, they all yelled in unison, “WE HATE GIRLS!!! GIRLS GOT COOTIES!!!!” The rest of us responded in robust agreement and wondered aloud how anybody could ever question such a universal truth. This truth has been passed on from father to son from the dawn of time. Regardless of age, all girls have cooties. The ONLY women on the planet who do not have cooties is one’s own Mom and, possibly, The Virgin Mary. All the rest are terminally afflicted.
For us in those early days, we had one supreme area of protection that shielded us from the neighborhood girls and their attendant cooties. Surrounding Hall Street was four of five fields (depending on who was counting) that we practically lived in when not in school. They were of various sizes and locations and each had its own particular attraction (more on that later). The neighborhood Dads all assured us that it was against the law of the Great State of Texas and probably also the law of The Almighty Himself for a girl to enter any of these fields. We were safe there. For our own protection, it was incumbent on us to get their as early as possible on Saturday morning and not return until supper (in retrospect, I think this may have been a parental plot to get us out of and away from the house on Saturdays). In looking back over forty years ago, I do not recall ever seeing a girl in any of those fields. Well, wait. There was one. Oh. Um, never mind.
It was our purpose in life to avoid any of the cootie infestations that had afflicted our older siblings and all adults. We did not understand back then that we would all eventually be infected and there was not much of anything we could have done to prevent it. Not knowing that, we used every tradition and trick in the book to avoid the inevitable. We had a lot of work to do back then you see. There was World War II to re-fight, countless rabbits to torment and an unending supply of lizards, snakes, and mud puppies to deal with. We had baseball games to play and candy to swipe from Mr. Russell’s store and from the Toot N’ Totum. This great struggle of boyhood took place in the fields surrounding Hall Street.
This is our story.