Messy Cover Up
On Facebook this morning a Roby Alumni shared a Google Earth view of his homestead on KatKlaw creek at the very edge of Abilene to the south. This is an area I was familiar with as a boy. I lived at 2118 Jannette St. from 1953 until 1960.
I roamed the area between South 1st St and Kirby Lake on my bike. My friends and I might be found on Treadaway Blvd, checking out the coeds on the McMurry campus or at the VFW swimming pool on North 1st St. Since I went to school with the Hendrick Home kids…I often spent the night at the orphanage and we would explore the woods to the east. We stopped at the Mrs Baird’s bakery for warm bread and butter often having to endure the tour we had all been in a hundred times. Sometimes they would just give us the bread and cut us loose.
Which brings me back to the Google Earth view of these areas. Most things south of South 27th street didn’t exist. We would hunt first with BB guns, then pellet guns and finally shotguns. Like most boys back then we were bird hunting…just birds of any kind. I may be held accountable for the number of tweet birds I put to rest…something I can’t imagine now. During the Dyess AFB buildup a new housing development went in and the kid who lived 3 houses down moved into a brand new house. Now while I hated to loose him as a close neighbor the new house sat on Elm Creek. I mean right on it…less than 50 yards from the “woods”.
The “woods” included Elm creek which at the time was a narrow ribbon of stained water running the red dirt banks. To us it was large enough to build rafts, fish for mudcat, light campfires and occasionally spend the night camping. The raft in this story ties in with the previous story about my broken ankle.
Now Larry Mashburn was my friend and his mother was named Delores. She endured raising two boys with another group of boys never far away. One of Delores’ hobbies was plaster of paris art. Little doodads poured into molds and painted in mostly primary colors to sit about or hang on the wall.
Now one day as I went down to the creek with my walking cast on…which I knew to never get wet. I realized that the rain from the previous night had caused the creek to swell and move and sort of boil. Larry suggested that we could move the raft downstream a little to a opening that would be larger once the water subsided. I really don’t remember if I thought about the possibility of falling in and dismissed it….or if it never really occurred to me. But fall I did.
Most can probably remember that sick at your stomach feeling that happens right after you realize that you have done something really dumb and you can’t walk it back. In Larry’s back yard I wiped and scraped and rubbed the cast trying to clean it while it soaked and slowly melted around my foot and the little rubber heel. After about 30 minutes of my best effort and Larry’s laughter my cast, which had extended from below my knee to the ball of my foot…leaving my toes exposed, had changed into a stack of semi-rigid white gauze collapsing around my ankle. We .. I ..was toast.
Then a moment of inspiration occurred when I spotted a bag of plaster of paris in the corner of the garage where Delores had left it for me to discover. This was just too easy. Larry agreed, made perfect sense. So we started the process of mixing a slurry of the white powder and repositioning the gauze around my leg. After several batches of material and our best efforts to reconstruct what had been there before we had a cast of the right size and proportions. We had a stark white, new looking leg cast. We then set about aging it by signing it with several different pens and rubbing a little dirt on it. After a couple of hours we declared success. No one would ever know except us. I peddled my bike home using the ball of my foot noticing it didn’t feel quite as firm as it had before. But then I only had about a week until the cast was scheduled to be off. Surely I can make it till then.
Arriving at the house I decided it would be best to avoid my Dad. He seemed to have a sixth sense about me and my general innocence. I also noticed that when I walked there was a little white dust left at every step. So, for the rest of the night, I sat, hopped and generally stayed in the kitchen area where the linoleum tile make the dust hard to see. However it unraveled quickly the next morning. Mom discovering white footprints all over the house and then received a phone call from Delores. Apparently my friend Larry turned states witness when confronted by the mess just outside the garage at their house.
There is that sick at the stomach feeling again. Which returned a third time a few hours later when Mom let Dad know how much the doctor charged to re-cast the leg. I was grounded so long for that … the seasons actually changed by the time I saw Elm Creek again. But sure enough the raft was in a much better spot.