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Memories - Life's Little Snapshots

Well folks, it is Christmas as I write this. Christmas always brings up old memories for me. The neat thing is - it only seems to bring up the good ones. I had a marvellous childhood and tons of memories as a result. I know this may be boring but here they are anyway :)

Gang wars - Growing up on Furby Street was a gas. We were never bored. One favourite pass time was gang wars. Each block had it's own gang composed of the kids that lived on the block. And there was no opting out. We all had to do our time. Each gang had a scout. Ours was michael. He had snot running from both nostrils down past his chin. He was a great scout since no one would dare hit him - would have taken a week to clean their hands up. The only problem we had was michael only knew one number, and that was three. Therefore, we were always prepared to be attacked by or to attack a gang of 3. In hind sight, I guess we weren't to bright either - we always believed him.

The really good battles involved wooden lances and cardboard armour. Any old broom stick would do. We spent hours down by the river sharpening the end on the rocks. A quick raid of the corner store would net enough boxes to make some really cool jousting armour. We would then challenge other gangs to jousts and the battle was on. A full piercing of the armour constituted a kill. Again, in hind sight, we were pretty dumb I guess. Lots of armour piercing but don't recall any kid ever being pierced. I guess God loved us even then :)

The Farm - My brother and I used to go to Grandpa's farm in Killarney most summers. Several firsts of my young life occurred there. These were heady days. Grandpa had us convinced that the local welder was an alien who would do evil things to us if he ever caught us alone. He had this fire stick that looked pretty lethal. And he had this face mask thing so that our molten fat would not splatter on his face while he was deep frying us. I did not like him. Of course we got even for that by sending Gyp (grandpa's dog) after the cows. He would chase them for hours once we got him started. That was not a popular pastime with grandpa. One of grandpa's favourites was when we would tease his bull. Every summer the same thing would happen. We, feeling bigger and braver than last summer, would sneak into the field and see how close we could get before high tailing it for the fence. This would usually happen as soon as he twitched an ear. The bull would come after us, we would head for the fence, then we would chicken out and climb the old combine in the middle of the field. Mr bull would then spend the rest of the day circling the combine in case we were stupid enough to come down. Meanwhile, Grandpa had conveniently gone deaf and we would be kept out of trouble the rest of the day.

My first time driving - Grandpa had an old tractor he kept parked by the farm house. I had watched him climb on, turn the key, and drive off to do whatever it is tractors do. This fascinated me no end. One day, I climbed up on the seat and saw the little silver thing he turned to make it go. I turned it and just about crapped myself. The tractor lurched a few times and rumbled into life, slowly moving out into the yard. I was a tad concerned. I knew the peddles did something but I could not reach them. I saw other handles and levers but had no idea what they were for. I grabbed the steering wheel so I would not fall off and realised ... I WAS DRIVING ...... Wow - this was cool. I managed to drive a loop around the barn and was feeling pretty good. Grandpa's pickup was sticking out past the end of the barn and on my 3rd loop I got to thinking ... I should not hit his truck and damage it. The damage was done. It seemed like every time I came around I got closer and closer to that truck. I panicked.  Having no idea how to stop I realized I need some way to tame the beast. I decided to run the tractor into the fence around grandma's garden figuring that should do the job. Well sir ... it did the job. But only after chewing out a good piece of grandma's garden. We shall not go into the gory details of supper that night.

My first beer - I love a beer as much as the next guy, but it has taken years of dedicated practice and self sacrifice to get to this point. I very clearly remember the first beer I ever tasted. Brother and I were helping Grandpa bale one very hot summer day. You do not know the meaning of hot until you bale hay by hand. Our job was to ride the wagon and pull the bales off the end of the bailer then stack them at the back of the wagon. Hard work for a couple of very young lads. And the bales never stop - you pull them or they fall off the wagon. After about a hundred hours of this on the first morning, we stopped for a break and a cool drink. Ooooppsss - Grandpa forgot to bring something for us young'uns. So we had beer. Farmers do not believe in cold beer. You have to let it sit in the sun for many, many hours so it kind of blows up when you open it. But we were thirsty and slugged that sucker back like a pro. Now, I have tasted some nasty stuff in my long, long life ... butt, nothing comes close to that taste. It took a lot of will power to overcome this memory in later life.

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