Of course, you realize this means war

We waited all day and into the early evening for the “panhandle punks” (that was the name we give them) to show up and get the surprise of their lives. You know, they never showed up that Saturday or the day after. We were in hiding and ready for war both days and they never showed up. At the end, we figured they were either too full of ice cream or were too busy playing four square or (shudder) house with the girls. ( A word of explanation: girls back then used to play “house.” That’s when they got in the garage and played like it was their house and they had tea parties and other girl stuff like that).

Well, we never saw the punks that weekend and figured the girls had made good on their part of the deal so we had to make good on our end. We took fifty or so of our GI Joe’s over to Gail’s (she was the boss of the neighborhood girls) and made plans to play four square. Never let it be said we did not honor our word.

“We don’t want em,” Gail pronounced as we stood at her front porch, bags of GI Joes in hand. “We made a bargain and we’re sticking to it,” I was unmoved by her casual dismissal. Gail shut the door right in our face without so much as a howdy do.

“Works for me!” Larry was thrilled that we did not have to give up our GI Joes or play a dumb game with the girls. We turned to leave and right behind us was the five meanest girls in the neighborhood along with EVERY one of the panhandle punks. There was twelve of us facing two-hundred and fifty (well, maybe twenty five. Oh, twelve) panhandle punks and their new “girlfriends.” We stared at each other for a spell when one of the punks got the nerve to speak. “What are you little boys doing here?” I did not recognize the speaker but was later told it was a fellow called Billy. “Ya’ll got no business talking to ANY of our girlfriends.” I was okay with that and said so. “I ain’t got no time to mess with any dumb ole girls anyway.” I was happy to be done with them.

Billy walked up and got right smack dab in my face and told me that I was NEVER to call his girlfriend dumb.

“YOUR GIRLFRIEND!!!???” So that’s it! Them girls done gone and got into their heads. I laughed out loud right smack dab in Billy’s face!! Just then a bunch of clods flew from the other punks at us. Most missed (they weren’t very good at clod throwing).

Everybody froze and I walked right up face to face with Billy. “Of course, you realize this means war.” It did too and we were ready.

 

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Ice cream and sweat

We agreed with the girls that they could have our GI Joe soldiers (the were NOT dolls!) three days a week and we would play four square twice a week with them. They wanted half our Joes up front.

“Not in this lifetime,” I wanted to make for sure they could produce what they said they would. “You just show up at the field at 2:00 tomorrow and we will show you want we can do,” Gail was as serious as can be. Our Joes stayed put until then.

The next day was Saturday and we had a tough time waiting til 2 O’Clock. We did sneak up to the field about noon or so but the place was empty. We went back to Stewie’s backyard while Gary rode his bike up to the Dairy Mart to see if maybe they were already there. Gary came back after a bit out of breath from riding hard. “Every guy from that neighborhood and every girl in town is at the Dairy Mart!” Gary was panting by now. “The place is packed inside and outside!”

“I’ll be dawged! I was stunned to figure them girls had up and done what they said they’d do.  Larry jumped up. “Dang! Let’s go! We got stuff to do!” As one man, all twelve of us (this was one of those rare days when at least one of us was not grounded) made a beeline to our beloved field. Just as we expected , it was completely empty save the full-time residents.  Yup, it was ripe for the taking.

We was going to take the place apart (i.e. wreck all the tumble weed forts they had) but discovered the windstorm from last night had done the job for us. Yet another sign that God was on our side. We had no idea if and / or when the punks would get back from the Dairy Mart so we just decided to hunker down in every low place (there weren’t many here) and wait. And waited. And waited.

Round about suppertime, we decided they weren’t coming back. The girls had said they would get those fellows off our field and they did.  Those girls sho nuff tricked them fellows. While they got tricked off of what they thought was their field, we took our field back. They were eating ice cream with a buncha girls and we were waiting and sweating and waiting and sweating. Ice cream. Sweat…..ummmm

Next week: Of course, you realize this means war!

Facing the inevitable

I didn’t know which was worse. Taking a bunch girls on to help us get rid of the bums and rats that stole our land or running away. My mom and dad would be matter than a striped snake (and striped snakes are ALWAYS made) if I took off. Besides, I wouldn’t get Mom’s pancakes and that, well, Mom made the best pancakes on the Panhandle. So…we decided to at least listen to the girls. Argh….

The following Saturday morning, we met with all of the neighborhood girls (somewhere north of six million it seemed) to see what cockamamie idea they had.

“You know, most of the boys are older than you all”, Gail began. “Yeh, and you know boys at that age like girls” she continued. “That’s disgusting.” Larry was all fired up against this idea. I told the fellows  to hush up and hear them out.

Gail went on, “Given that they like girls and they have invited us to visit them at the fort they just built, we could go out there and visit with them and get them to take us to the Dairy Mart on Western Drive”. The Dairy Mart was a about three miles from the eastern edge of the field. (My brother and I worked there in high school). While they was at the Dairy Mart, we could sneak onto the field and fight them off when they returned. Margaret didn’t think they would be back. I have no idea why.

“Well,” I thought it might just work.  We agreed to that plan. “Wait just a doggone minute” Gail was angry about something. “Don’t forgot our side of the deal. In exchange for luring them off the field, we get your entire collection of GI Joes© three day a week AND you all have to play foursquare with us twice a week.

There’s two problems with this plan 1) I mentioned earlier that GI Joe is a combat soldier and the first thing he’ll do is whip Ken. 2) The girls would be getting free ice cream which should be ok with the foursquare deal.

“Take it or leave it,” Margaret stood her ground.  “You could bring us some ice cream” Stewie was a sucker for ice cream. “I’ll see what I can do,” Gail offered.

Afterward and back in Stewie’s backyard, we were no convinced. “I don’t think we got the best deal outta this”, Larry was madder than a red hen. “But I don’t see any other way.” We figured we had two hundred GI Joes among us and they would make short work of the three or four “Ken the weenie” dolls the girls had. There was, however, nothing for it.

NEXT WEEK: Feminine whiles

A trip to the big city!

(With your permission, we will take a side track from The Clod Wars and take a detour of sorts)

The wife and I had the opportunity to go to Las Vegas last weekend. You know Las Vegas, right? It’s in Nevada and that’s a four hour plane ride from here due west. It’s in the desert which means it is pretty hot most of the time. Anyway…

I went there on business and took the wife with me. We figured on maybe seeing a show and then going to Hoover Dam. Ought to be a fun time.

We stayed in one of them fancy resort motels. There’s lots of them there and they have all kinds of stuff to do. Why, in the main hallway of the fancy hotel we stayed in they had this great big room with all kinds of tables for playing cards and other tables where folks threw dice all across the table for some reason. The game with dice was called craps I think.  Then they had these other machines that folks called “one armed bandits.” I don’t know why. Oh, and they had lots and lots of pretty girls all over the place. I don’t know why either. None of them seemed to be playing any games.

Well, we were walking through this big room (you can’t get anywhere in these places without walking through the big game room). and all of a sudden, I felt a stabbing pain in my right rib cage. I looked and there was nothing near my right side except my wife. I asked her what hit me and all she said was “You know.” Well, no, I did not know and said so. She didn’t say a thing as we kept on walking. She wasn’t happy about something or other and it was too close to dinner to start a fight.

I was enjoying the walk through the big game room and all the scenery when, without warning, I suffered yet another stabbing blow to the ribs cage. It was on my left side this time. I looked left and there was my wife and nobody else. “Did you elbow me just then?” I asked. She looked at me with what I would call an ornery face and said, “What do you think?” I told her I had no idea and asked her why she had elbowed me. “Well, if you don’t know, I am sure not going to tell you.” I had no clue what all the fuss was about but, by now, we got to the elevator and to our room. The only time I got elbowed was when we were going through the fancy game room. She never did explain herself. I let the matter drop.

I still don’t know what she was all fired up about.

 

The unholy alliance

Given that we had been run out of “our” territory not once but twice, we were in  no mood to hear any guff out of the four meanest girls in the neighborhood. They laughed and laughed until I thought they were going to collapse. When they got back to almost normal (for a girl), they stood up (they had fallen down from laughing so hard) and faced us.

“Ya’ll are ridiculous”, Gail said, stifling yet another laugh. “Yeh, no kidding, Margaret added with a guffaw. “You know they are easy to get rid of, you know that don’t you?” Alice added, “But you all don’t know you have a secret weapon.”

“Secret weapon?” I was incredulous to imagine that these girls would ever stoop to think that we didn’t know about our secret weapon. “Of course, we know about our secret weapon!” Stewi tried to sound smart and all that. Larry had no clue about any secret weapon and said so. (Rule #1 – NEVER admit you don’t know something to a girl-EVER). That just made everything much worse.

Margaret laughed and said, “WE are your secret weapon!” All of us laughed in unison at that out of this world remark. “You! That’s a joke!” I was dead serious even when Larry asked how these girls could be out biggest secret.

“We’ll tell you on the condition that you all have to play four square with us at least two Saturdays a month AND let us use your GI Joe’s with our Barbie.

“NO WAY!!!” We were in complete unison on the matter and there would be no discussion. “OUR GI Joe’s play with YOUR Barbie!? Not on this planet!!” I replied at the top of my voice “You’ve got your Ken doll! Use him.” “GI Joe is much tougher than Ken,” replied Alice. She was right on that for sure but that did not mean they could make our GI Joe play house. He’s a combat soldier and that’s just the way it is. We would not budge.

“Suit yourself,” Alice was unmovable. “Hope you find a new field to play on!”

With that, we gathered up our Moon Pies and RC Colas and left for Stewi’s back yard. No way were we going to agree to Foursquare and loosing our GI Joes.

Next week: A new attempt

 

Licking our wounds

It took quite a spell to get all ten of us into the safety of Stewie’s backyard and the protection of his fence. That fence didn’t help much as our enemies continued throwing clods over the fence and into the yard. We retreated even further into the safety of the garage. That attracted the attention of Stewie’s dad who, upon realizing his back yard was being littered by clods, went out and ran those skunks off. We were, for a time, safe.

It was late Saturday morning by now and we were confined to the interior of the garage with a whole bunch of Saturday to get through yet. Larry went out to scout the area and was met with a merciless shelling of “Panhandle death clods,” as we called them. He was lucky he survived. We were unsure whether we would ever see daylight again until Max had the idea to walk down to Mr. Walker’s store and get an RC Cola™ and a Moon Pie™. We would be safe as Mr. Walker’s store was the opposite direction and further away from the field. Those skunks would leave us alone there. We would be safe out back and could talk over our plans for counterattack.

We forgot about the neighborhood girls.

Here it might be the time to explain the neighborhood girls. They were the bane of our existence. If memory serves, there were about a million of them. Unless we got to our field real early in the morning (btw: my Dad told me it was against Texas state law for girls of any age to be on the field at any time), we had to put up with them and their girly goofiness. Their entire agenda was to entice, invite, or otherwise rope us into playing with them. I’m sorry, but our “Man Code” forbade us from playing house, handling any kind of dolls (G.I. Joe™ was the sole exception), playing some goofy game called foursquare, and anything other than what met our man code. It was just that simple. We were ten years old, for crying out loud! Well, Stewi and Rusty were eight. You get my meaning.

So, on this sunny Saturday morning we went to Mr. Walker’s store, got our RC Colas and Moon Pies, and settled out back of the store to soak our sorrows. (for some of us, It took more than one Moon Pie to drown the sorrow). Mr. Walker even came out to see if we were ok. He went back inside his store and no sooner than the screen door slammed shut than we spotted the four orneriest girls in the neighborhood. Alice, Margaret, Brindley, and Gail came around the corner, stopped dead in their tracks, and stared at us. After what seemed to be an eternity, all four broke down laughing themselves silly. Girls do that you know. Our man code did not allow us to throw clods at girls so we just stood there and stared as meanest of a stare that anyone can muster.

Next week: An unlikely alliance.

Setting the trap?

Now that we had a plan, we needed to get things going to take “our land” back. The barbed wire fence that bordered the southern edge of our field ran nigh on to a mile or more. Least wise it seemed that way. The memory of its length is a little fuzzy forty years later. Anyway…We had to figure out how to get on the field, to the fence, and gather up the tumbleweeds we would need while avoiding detection from the “enemy” and (more important) the sorghum bull ( see my entry of March 29, 2016 for an explanation of the sorghum bull). We weren’t too worried about the enemy (they weren’t that smart anyway) but, knowing the sorghum bull was behind us was downright scary. Larry reminded us that the sorghum bull was always gone at dinner time and most weekends. Knowing this, we could plan our time to get started.

Luck was with us that Saturday morning. All ten of us made it to the field and to the fence super early. We were fortunate too that none of the “girls” of the neighborhood were up at that hour. (I’ll explain the neighborhood girls later). All that was great but, what made it greater still is there had been a windstorm over the night and the entire field of tumbleweeds had been caught and snared by the barb-wire fence. Instant fort! Yup, we were lucky!

At this hour of the morning, the sorghum bull would be out and about though we did not see him. Maybe we got even more lucky if he was gone to one of his “shows.” The fellow what owned him showed him off a lot. Maybe we were gonna be lucky again and he would be gone. We assumed he was and went about our business, especially after Larry reminded that he was always gone on the weekends. Life is good!

We entered the field from Stewi’s house which was about a quarter mile or so to the barbed wire fence. As I said earlier, it was now covered with tumbleweeds. You would not find a happier bunch of fellows anywhere on the Texas Panhandle than the ten of us. The day was clear, no ornery ole girls anywhere, and The Almighty Himself had built us a fort.

We got to about ten or twenty feet from the fence and stopped to admire our indestructible fortress. All of a sudden, a sky darkening sea of clods (and a few rocks) flew through the air in our direction. Those same ornery snakes from the other day had snuck into and taken over OUR fort!! How dare they!! We took a terrible “whuppin.”

Oh, we tried our best to fight back but, not only did they attack us from OUR fort, they somehow or other got behind so that we were getting bombarded from the front and rear. There was nothing for it but get back to Stew’s house.

Next week: Licking our wounds.