Fall rains filled the seasonal stream nearby and it was irresistible to a young Grayquill. Dams, mud, neighbor boys and a little brother to direct, made the possibilities endless. Grayquill laid awake at night planning the next bigger and better dam. Grayquill had one problem at age eight it was those new Red Wing boots his father had bought him to start school with. Along with the new boots was responsibility and instructions, “The very first thing you are to do when you get home from school is change into you old boots before going out to play.”
“Okay, sure dad, I’ll do it”
Let me stop here for a little perspective. My father had not more than a year earlier auctioned off all his farm equipment and move his six children to the Pacific Northwest. He had no trade, the work he found paid less than a wife and six children needed, the auction money was mostly if not completely used up. Nothing extra was bought during that time. Good boots were a thing my dad would spend money on even for a small boy. My dad and I had sat and greased those new boots and he taught me how to care for them.
Walking home from the bus stop took so long, Grayquill was anxious to not waste any of the remaining daylight hours after arriving home. Forgetting his father’s instructions he dropped his school stuff and headed out the back door to where his friends waited. Down the hill across the street and into the deep gully the boys went. The water was thrilling as they watched it rushing by. Rocks soon were being tossed into the chosen spot but they were directly swept away. Obviously boulders were needed, not fist sized rocks. Four or five small boys can be exceedingly productive and soon had maneuvered boulders into the stream, they held. Now came the smaller fist sized rocks filling in the cracks. Little by little the passage way for the water became narrower and narrower and the water began backing up. It wasn’t long before the water began pouring over the top of their dam and it became clear it would need to be higher. A bigger base of boulders would be required. After two hours of dam building in the rain and mud, Grayquill and his brother heard their fathers whistle calling them to dinner.
Dad met the boys at the back door. Both were made to strip, change into clean clothes, and then came the spanking for not changing the boots.
The next day brought more rain, and phase two of the dam was at the top of Grayquill’s agenda. Rushing into the house dropping his school stuff and straight out the back door went Grayquill minus his brother. Brother was changing his clothes and boots. Grayquill didn’t really even notice his brother had not followed. For he was focused on water, new boulders, giving direction to the neighborhood boys which boulder should go where. The two hours passed quickly and covered from head to toe in mud and grit came his father’s whistle calling him to dinner. Out of the gully he crawled caked in mud. Grayquill’s dad meet him at the back door and this time the spanking came even before the dirty soggy clothes could be extricated. Grayquill remembers that spanking hurting a bit more than the day before. Hmmm…could it have been his bum was still a bit tender from the previous day’s paddling?
The next day brought more rain, and phase three of the dam was at the top of Grayquill’s agenda. Rushing into the house dropping his school stuff and out the back door he went…Well I think you get the picture. Grayquill heard the whistle, Dad met Grayquill at the back door and another spanking occurred. Grayquill’s father sure was consistent. Grayquill remembers this paddling hurt considerably more than the previous two.
The next day brought more rain, and phase four of the dam was at the top of Grayquill’s agenda. Rushing into the house dropping his school stuff and heading toward the back door, Grayquill stopped and changed his boots.
Now you have heard a boot tale. D’OH!