12/11 – By the power of Grayskull

Back to Burnside. Our core group was Mayland, Billy, Brian and I. Chris had severe asthma he never really came with us onto our treks into the woods. One of our favorite spots back then was Torza’s miniature golf that was on Hillside ave. We used to cut through the condo’s behind our apartments to get there. There was also an underpass on Hillside ave that we would go through. The mounds of bird shit that were in that underpass were humungous and gross but did that stop us? Nope! At the mini golf we would always play each hole a couple of times and at the end was a clown and if you got the ball in its nose you’d get a free game. We used to always run up and drop the ball in the nose but then they caught on and put up a cage to block little delinquents like us from playing all day long.

There was one time when we were playing in an open area near Torza’s that we got to through the woods. Well in this open area was a small area of quicksand and Brian got stuck in it. He slowly started getting sucked down begging us to get him out. We were all trying like hell to pull him up but we couldn’t – not even with all of us pulling him up. We started to panic and I think Billy ran like hell all the way back to the apartments to get Brian’s Mom. We stayed and just kept pulling but he kept going down. Right when he was almost up to his neck with his arms sticking up, Billy shows up with Brian’s mom. She found the power of Grayskull and pulled him all the way out with one arm screaming the whole time. We were just standing there like “woh she’s strong”! Never underestimate the strength of a Mother in a state of panic.

The courtyard of our apartments wasn’t just a parking lot. It was our wrestling mat, snowman making, tree climbing, hide and seek domain. There wasn’t much grass or many trees in there but we made use of all of it. I think the biggest piece of grass and the easiest tree to climb was right in front of my apartment so that area became like a central meeting ground. That tree was always base for hide and seek. I always lost and I would be “it” forever!!!! It always got to the point where I could never find anyone and just quit. Then Mayland would lead the “poor sport, poor sport” jeers.

The basement below my apartment was the laundromat for our side as was the apartment right across the driveway because we were the middle apartments. The poor people that lived in the one across from me must have wanted to kill us. We would go through the front door and run down the stairs at full speed and out the back door that led us to the backside of the complex – the area where “Halloween” was and the condo’s behind us. We must have sounded like a fleet of elephants going through there and we’d always get yelled at but did we stop? Of course not.

Then there was The King of the Woods challenge. For some reason it ended up just being me and Brian. I think the other kids just wanted to make the obstacle course and watch us so they could mock us. They drew up this crazy course that we had to follow in the woods, then swim and crawl in part of the Hockanum river back there, then crawl up a dirt/clay  mini cliff to the finish line. It was just me and GI Joe – for the win. We took this shit seriously (Me and Brian anyway – I think everyone else was just laughing at us). I thought he was going to crush me – I mean he lived for this kind of shit. I remember wading through the nasty ass river almost to the cliff which was the end, we were neck and neck and both tired and panting ready to fall down. We clawed our way up that clay cliff – wet and nasty and we were both an absolute mess by this point. Brian slipped and reached for me and hit me right in the nose. He fell – I won. I was KING!!! I gloated and beamed and talked all sorts of shit and I think they all said “shut up Butch” and that was it. My moment was celebrated by only me. Then Brian gets up and takes off his shirt and he had all of these black leeches all over him. I didn’t get any for some reason. Maybe I have bitter blood. My moment stolen and outshined by a bunch of leeches, nice.


About Alton B. Etheridge III

My Last Years of Childhood is about my musings as I relive my childhood in words before I get too old to remember!
This entry was posted in Childhood, Confessions, Life, Memoir, Nostalgia and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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