by Dave


 [ 741 ] +

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I grew up in a small town in western Kansas the only male in a family of three older sisters and my mother. Dad was a nice enough guy but he wasn't really worth much except to himself. My grandma and grandpa lived in their own place a few blocks away. So then, grandpa was the only male around and he wasn't in good health so I was mostly on my own. I don't think it bothered me all that much, being the only guy. I pretty much went my own way and did my own thing and was only interested in me anyway.

I had a life changing event occur during the summer of my ninth year, I got a bicycle, aka. a "bike". The freedom my bike gave me was phenomenal to say the least. Where it had taken thirty long minutes to walk downtown I could now get there in mere minutes. Places, like the river, that were simply too far were now easily reached. The horizon of my life had expanded and seemed almost limitless to a nine year old self-centered boy who had secretly harbored a great deal of wanderlust, wanderlust that was only satisfied by reading way ahead of my grade level. But now - I could actually go and come back all in one day.

When I went "Adventuring," like going down to the river, I always went with some of the guys I ran around with. But when I went "Exploring" I usually went alone. I liked to stick my nose into places, places that only I knew about. Little hideouts - a way in and out the back way - a place I wasn't supposed to be.

I was free - free to go here - free to go there. Explore this place. Delve into that place. As most boys a wont to do I went a lot of places I had no business being. Not breaking and entering really, Just going in where the lock wasn't locked. Like a big old barn out in the country. I would poke around in those places enjoying the smells of old oil and grease, sweat and paint, creosote and dust.

I only took three things during these jaunts. Any loose change would somehow end up in my pocket, pop bottles could be turned in for cash money no questions asked and lead. Lead could be melted in an old coffee can and all sorts of neat things could then be made that a boy would find interesting. Oh yeah, I took an occasional shotgun shell - usually in bad shape and not worthy of being fired in a shotgun.

I never took tools as I understood that tools often meant someone's livelihood - even if they seemed to be broken and rusty. That's because I'd seen old men use such tools on the farm to do honest labor, labor that would not have taken place except for those no account looking tools. And besides that, I myself had done some fixing of things my own young self with tools such as those. Truth be known - I had no access to any other type of tools until I was grown and gone from my ancestral home.

So there I was, free to roam pretty much wherever my desire took me. That was, at least, as long as I was home before dark, or, home by supper time, if I knew what was good for me. Which I usually did as I was generally hungry and missing a meal really WAS a big deal.