The year was 1960 and three curious and harmless ten year old boys were seeking adventure. We followed the narrow, winding creek that bubbled along behind Neal Dufur’s house. A large snapping turtle confronted us and seemed to hiss and growl simultaneously.
We continued on for more than a mile and our hearts beat faster as we climbed a fence. Not just any fence, mind you. This was the forbidden fence that led to Old Lady Gates’ property. She was reported to be missing a few marbles…whatever that meant.
Mrs. Gates had only been seen on a couple of occasions and appeared to be 80 years old and wore an old skirt like granny of The Beverly Hillbillies. The heart rate elevating fact is that two weeks prior she was seen charging out the back door of her house with a shotgun. I now realize that charging might be an exaggeration for an eighty year old but things get magnified when you see a 12 gauge in an unstable senior’s hands.
After crossing the fence, we slowly made our way to the small, abandoned shed that, unbeknownst to us, was in full view of granny’s kitchen window. We liked to putter around in the shed because it seemed as old as the Civil War and, truth be known, we thought we might capture (steal) a bit of history from the war.
We’d been rummaging around the shed for a time when out of nowhere, we heard screaming and hollerin’ like World War 3 had commenced. This was not the war we’d envisioned. We looked out from the dilapidated front door of the shed and sure enough…Old Lady Gates was marching across her backyard and yes…she was toting that feared shotgun.
We watched in horror and ducked as she raised that evil weapon…and following a string of never before heard profanities, fired it in our direction.
As you might have guessed, three petrified kids bolted as one from the shed and did their best imitation of Jesse Owens running the 100:meter dash in Munich. In our frenzied state, we were certain the crazed woman was reloading and that buckshot in the buttocks was our likely fate.
It’s funny how time tends to make one embellish these types of memories.
But this much is true…granny was mad as hell, she surely wielded a shotgun, her mental faculties were impaired, and she despised intruders on her property.
It is probably also correct that she fired that shotgun in the air just to scare the livin’ daylights out of these three criminal trespassers answering their mother’s question of ‘Mike, did you pee your pants?.
** Dedicated to Tom Finholm who organized this adventure and whose jeans were surely as wet as mine.