Living just east of Crazy

Boyhood adventures on Oxford Lane (Part 3 of 3)

Written By: Eddie Snipes - Aug• 14•12

After a night of heavy storms, a bright and sunny morning emerged. Greg also emerged and wanted to play. We headed to the apple trees but stopped when a strange object blocked our path. It had a

long pole with a cable, and on the top several smaller poles stuck out. It was a large TV antenna. We didn’t know what it was, but we soon discovered something wonderful.

The metal rods were soft metal. We were supermen, able to bend steel with our bare hands. I grabbed a rod, bent it, and it folded. And snapped off. I took it and bent it again. The rods were only good for one bending. They always broke apart when straightened. Greg grabbed one and displayed his superhuman strength. We took turns playing supermen until all the rods were broken and too small to bend. Then we were off to another adventure.

When I came home, our landlord was talking to my dad. He wasn’t happy. It turns out, he came to fix the fallen antenna, and found it more damaged than he expected. It wasn’t a natural storm that caused this damage. It looked more like hurricanes Eddie and Greg.

I admitted what we had done, but explained we thought it was something that didn’t matter, so we played superman. “Where did you think the antenna came from?” the landlord asked me.

You know, I hadn’t even thought about that. I guess it seemed more like a gift from heaven. We didn’t question its origin. We just saw an opportunity and took advantage of it. I wonder how much our rent went up after that adventure?

One day my dad called me from the carport. “Come look at this, Eddie,” he said.

I went outside and a dirt dauber was caught in a spider’s web, and the battle was on. The hunter had become the hunted. The dauber was pulling against the web, but the spider was hitting his back legs with strands of web as fast as she could do it. The dauber tried to sting, but the spider had the advantage. The dirt dauber couldn’t hit the spider through the tangle of webs. They battled for a good ten minutes. The spider was gaining ground and it looked hopeless for the dauber. Then the spider made a mistake. Like a prize fighter, the dauber delivered a lethal blow and the battle was over. A helpless spider lay still while the dirt dauber untangled his legs and flew off. It was a prize fight I never forgot.

Other oddities occurred on that porch. One morning a bat was huddled in the corner, hissing at us. Consumed with curiosity, my sister walked over and poked it with her finger. It hissed and made the ugliest face I’ve ever seen. It had very sharp teeth, which it bore gladly. I decided not to poke it, too. Those teeth looked dangerous.

Dad was at work, but the landlord came over and took the bat to destroy it. He said something about rabies, but I’m not sure if the bat was actually infected or just sick.

Our landlord had an upholstery business a short walk from our house. During one of our explorations, we stepped into the shop to see what it was. I saw a red and white machine and heard angels singing. It was a coke machine. A very old coke machine. It was round and the bottles hung down from a circular railing. It only cost a dime, so we ran home to get money. We dropped our dime in, lifted the top, and pulled a bottle through. Greg tried to save a dime and tugged on the next bottle, but it only allowed one bottle to pass.

Each time I had a dime, I’d run to the shop to get a coke. This went on until I stepped on a tack. I never wore shoes, so it went right into my heel. After this event, our landlord told me I couldn’t come into the shop again. No more cheap cokes.

The trees between our house and the apartments behind us provided good shade and a few adventures. I found a cat and while petting it, a jolly dog bounded along. I decided to introduce them. I picked up the cat and shoved it right into the curious dog’s face. The dog was willing to make friends, but the cat was not. The cat hissed and clawed rapidly at the dog. He hit the dog about a dozen times before he could react. I felt a little guilty as the dog ran away, howling as he went. I put the cat down, taking care not to make any dog-like motions.

On another day, I played under the trees when something hit me in the head. I looked around, but saw no one. Then something bounced off my head again. I studied the area, looking for the cause when an acorn bounced off my head and landed on the ground in front of me. Someone is throwing these at me, but I didn’t see the culprit. I looked around until enough projectiles led me to the probable location. Then I saw it.

A squirrel was in the tree, biting acorns and throwing them at me. I tried throwing them back, but he was a much better aim than I was.

Does anyone else have these weird encounters? Or is it just me?

After living on Oxford Lane a year or two, my parents found a house to buy in Marietta, Georgia. We found out we were leaving the old house and its cold rooms. This is the house with the gas heaters. The place where I blew out the heater and almost blew up myself and my cousins. It’s also the place where I singed my behind on a heater.

In the winter, the rooms were not exactly warm. When I got out of the tub, cold air wrapped around me and froze the drops to my skin. My grandmother had given me a Mickey Mouse shampoo bottle. It was great for playing in the bathtub, but it had a slight defect. The feet of Mickey housed the shampoo bottle cap. But there was a crack in the plastic that held the feet to the cap, so it often fell off. It wasn’t a big deal to me because, for the most part, the feet stayed on.

One cold winter day, I climbed out of the tub and rushed to the heater in the living room. It’s where me and my sister always ran to so we could stay warm until the water dried off our naked bodies. I’d stand in front of the warm heater while holding the towel in front of me. It was my privacy curtain. A corner of the towel was in one hand, Mickey and a towel in the other. While standing in front of the heater, the feet of Mickey fell off. Naturally, I bent down to pick them up. When I bent over, I heard a strange sizzling sound. Then pain shot through me and I stood up and screamed. I had pressed my bare bottom against the metal heater.

I laid across the bed and whimpered as Mom put burn ointment over my well-done rump roast.

The house had another surprise in store for me. We came home from somewhere and I rushed to the table to sit down. Mom and Dad brought dinner home and I was ready to eat. My sister was the last one in the house and she slammed the door closed. It was an old house and it shook when the doors were closed. On this day, the globe covering the lamp shook loose. It fell and I was under it. It hit me square on the noggin and shattered in pieces. I felt it, but it didn’t really hurt. But that didn’t stop me from screaming. I cried and made sure everyone in Newton County knew I had been assaulted by the globe.

Mom didn’t believe it actually hit me since there was no blood or lumps on my head. But there was glass in my hair and fragments in a radius around me.

It wasn’t my only encounter with a light fixture in that house. In the living room, a half-globe hung from the ceiling by a chain. I was playing ‘super bear’ with my teddy. On one launch, he landed inside the light globe. I don’t recall why I was in the living room alone, but I decided to get the bear out myself.

I pushed the chair under the light and climbed up. Three feet, too short. I stacked some books on the chair. Still too short. I kept stacking what I could find on the chair until it was high enough to reach the light. I climbed on top of the tottering stack and reached up for my bear. I felt his fur, and then the light globe shot upward. No, I was shooting downward. The book stack went out from under me and I went plummeting down. I hit the hardwood floor with a bang. After my head quit vibrating, I went to find Mom to recover my bear.

My poor bear was lost one day at school. To keep Teddy warm, I had him inside my coat. He always rode with me to school, but I never took him in. But on this day, I forgot I had him in my coat until I was on my way to class. I ran back, but Mom was already gone. I couldn’t take a teddy bear to class because my friends would make fun of me. So I hid him under a bench. My plan was to retrieve Teddy after school and smuggle him back to the car. But after school, he was gone. Apparently my fellow elementary school classmates weren’t as blind as I had thought.

After all these adventures, it was a sad day when I waved good-bye to my friend Greg and the house of horrors. I never met a bee catcher or bee whacker quite like Greg. We made a good team. But now it was time for a new adventure and new phase of life.

Eddie Snipes 2012

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