I Invent Scuba Diving

 I have mentioned that my dad was a scuba diver and I became a scuba diver when I was 12 and there is a lot of funny stuff that happened with that but when I was too young to certify I wanted in on the magic of the under water world and I knew how to do it. I knew that under water what you needed was air and I was in my pre-knowing about O2 -CO2 days and thought air was air was air. So my plan was simple I would get some tape some straws and a few discarded yogurt containers and hook them all together in a line and then when I went under the water I could calmly sip air as I needed and refill the containers as I exhaled. I had just cracked the age old problem of infinite underwater air supply all with a few pieces of reused trash and a dash of naivety. I have found that it is always easier to solve problem before you are really aware of the scope of the problem. I took my new invention and a pair of snorkeling goggles and headed up to the reservoir to complete my victory over the watery realm. Justin and I rode up on our bikes and I readied myself for a leisurely afternoon of underwater exploration. I waded in up to my chest and put my goggles on and assured Justin that I would only stay under for a few minutes and then he could have his turn. I put the straw into my mouth and pulled my goggles down over my eyes. I plunged under the water and my brilliant contraption failed instantly coming apart into all of its component parts and filling my lungs with a quart of diseased Santaquin reservoir water. I was sputtering out water and strangling as I struggled to my feet in the deep mud. Trying to keep my head above water while Justin was yelling from shore wondering if it was working or not. No, you dumb piece of crap, it is not working - that is why I am dying. What does it look like, Idiot? I thought those things in retrospect at the time I was trying not to drown. When I finally struggled to shore I crawled up on the bank and coughed uncontrollably for ten minutes. I was soaked through, muddy and exhausted from my ordeal when Justin lamented the fact that I had broken it before he even had a chance to try it. The lesson here is that you should always take the first turn when testing a lethal prototype because if you have seconds sometime the first guy will die and you will never get a turn. I scrapped the scuba set and decided a submarine was a more reasonable project for a couple of young men wanting to explore the nautical depths.     

Pitchforking the Carp

Asking for it by looking like this.

 There was a reservoir at the south end of Santaquin that had always been full of what was known in the local dialect as 'garbage fish'. A garbage fish is a non-game fish and in the case of this reservoir consisted of white bass, mud catfish, and the ever present carp. The other fish would occasionally be caught and eaten by legitimate fishermen but the carp was universally despised and I never knew of anyone who actually ate one. Most of the time there would be big piles of rotting carp where disgusted fishermen had thrown them on the bank to die. Sometime when I was about 11 the city decided to clean up the reservoir and stock it with trout which are much more desirable for sportsmen. To get rid of the garbage fish they decided to drain the reservoir all the way down to the dirt. This made for a massive concentration of fish as the pond got smaller and smaller. When it was about half empty, Justin, Ryan and their cousin Nathan and I were going up there fishing everyday because the concentration of fish made them extra aggressive and hungry and it was awesome. The pond continued to drain and when it was down to about ten percent left the fish were concentrated enough and the water was so shallow that we were able to switch from rod and reel and go attack in a fishing melee. We brought spears and pitchforks and went to work hauling out the suffocating fish. We got there early in the morning and spent the whole day knee deep in mud stabbing fish. We were sore, exhausted and sunburned and yet still compelled to press on stabbing and throwing the fish up onto the bank, hundreds and hundreds of doomed carp piled up and rotting in the sun. It wasn't fun after the first hour or so but we were literally unable to stop the slaughter until the sun was going down and we were physically and emotionally spent. We staggered the mile home washed off and fell into bed. After that day we didn't go back for years. I personally didn't fish there for 20 years. I guess we just had to get the madness of killing out of our system and then it was gone.  

Assaulting the Living and the Dead

 Justin's outbursts of violence were not always directed at friends, children, or strangers – sometimes he would assault the dead. At a fairly young age Justin was allowed to graduate from a bb gun and move up and on to a much larger bb gun, a shotgun. I think he was about 12 when we went walking with his younger brother out and about to shoot at stuff. Shooting at stuff was a Santaquin pastime that is exactly what it sounds like and what you would call it when you asked your parents permission to go.
A conversation may go like this: 
“Hey mom? Justin and Kurt and going shooting at stuff can I go with them?”
“Only if you be safe and don't shoot birds or cats.”
Simpler times.
On this trip out to shoot at stuff we had indeed shot at generic small birds known in the Santaquin dialect as 'Tweety Birds'. Tweety birds were the type that my mom would threaten to make me eat if she had found that I had killed one. I never had to eat one but the threat was sufficient to keep my attempts to kill one under wraps. It occurs to me that Atticus Finch may have been disappointed in our youthful predilection towards killing harmless things. It seems odd to me know to recall but it seems like I never intended to kill a bird I just wanted to shoot it. That seems to my adult mind to be an untenable piece of logic but that is how I felt. Excitement over the hunt and the opportunity to affect something at a distance with my power and then almost instant shame for having hurt an innocent creature. Maybe trying to sort out those types of feeling is why growing up is such a challenge. Back to the random shooting. We were walking up a road that fed a small canyon up the road from our houses and we smelled something amazingly foul. It was the most unpleasant sensations of smell I had ever had but its reign at the top of my olfactory aversions was extremely short lived. It was about to be supplanted so massively that it would pale in comparison. We looked over the side of the road and there was a magnificently dead and bloated road-killed elk that had skin that was stretched to the bursting point by the gasses of decomposition. Before we knew what was happening and before we could stop him, Justin had leveled the shotgun and shot the side of the elk, bursting its juicy remains out of their skin containment system in a frothy mess. The smell went from nearly unbearable to vomit inducing in less time then it took to realize what he had done. I don't know if we all puked but I definitely did and we were all dry heaving as we beat our retreat down the canyon road. The air was so hot and the breeze just enough to waft the smell with out dispersing it that it seemed like forever before we were out of nose-shot of the horrible situation. I have seen many people make really stupid impulsive decisions but I think that still ranks up there with the best of the worst in my mind.   

Shooting WD-40

My dad got into scuba diving when we were young and he started amassing gear. Our favorite and the most frequently misused was a spear gun. A spear gun is like an underwater crossbow that uses two large rubber-bands instead of a cross member to shoot a two foot long spear that is tethered to the gun with a rope so you don't loose it. We were never ever supposed to use it at all so that meant that we had to do it on the sly which was not that hard really my dad worked away from the house most days and my mom was never to watchful. One day when Justin and his little brother were at our house I decided to impress them with a little demonstration of the spear gun's awesome power. We started out by shooting it at trees and toys but it was not giving that dramatic impact that I wanted. So I got a full can of WD-40 and set it up on a stump 4 feet away which was about the effective range of the weapon and shot it the spear popped the can but lodged inside and when the can discharged its contents it flew around with the spear inside at the end of the tether. It was awesome, but not as subtle as I had hope so for the next demonstration we decided to go into the old unused house in our front-yard. I think our thought process was kind of funny when you consider that we were more concerned with getting caught and in trouble then shooting cans full of flammable liquid under high pressure in a confined space. For the next demonstration we selected a can of red spray paint and set it up on a counter top in the room that was crowded with machines and parts my dad used in his business. Justin's turn was next so he got to shoot the can. The effect was even better than the lubricant the can didn't even get stuck on the end of the spear and when it was shot it just flew around the room spinning around and painting everything. That is when we realized the flaw in our plan. There was quite a bit of paint on everything and the room was full of paint fumes and we had to make a haste retreat from our spectacular success. When the air had cleared we saw that there were streaks of red paint all over the counters the ceiling and much of the stuff in the room so we did the responsible thing and put the spear gun away and shut the door to the front house and let that paint dry. Months or maybe years latter when my dad was in the front house with me looking for something he finally noticed the paint on the cupboards and the ceiling and wondered aloud how in the hell some idiot painted all of that. Oh if he only knew exactly how idiotic he may have been quite impressed before he punished us.

Ryan Gets Stomped Out

Justin's brother Ryan was and is a very tough guy. He was always the first to wade into danger and conflict and use a two-fisted approach to conflict resolution. When he was 15 or so we went to see him match wills with a steer at the local youth Buck-A-Roo Rodeo. The best part of any rodeo is not the lame scripted banter between the clowns and the announcer, or the heavy girls racing around barrels on overworked horses it is seeing the cowboys get gored or stomped out by the bulls. They usually keep it until the end so everyone is forced to watch the ridiculous events like team roping. Who cares if you can throw a rope around a calf's foot on the run? I am sure it is hard but so is coal mining and I don't watch that either, unless someone gets stranded in a cave in but in fairness that is no longer coal mining it is a miner rescue. The bull riding finally ques up and the announcer is ready with clever quips and music ques for every bull. No nonsense songs culled from the best of heavy metal, rap metal, and beat ass rock and roll of all stripes and specie. The rider is called out and the people from his town or those who know him personally hoot and holler, if you are really drunk you do this for every contestant. Then the shoot is opened and the bull starts to free himself from the irritating thing on his back that keeps kicking him. Adult bulls are huge death machines as heavy as compact cars with a tiny brain that has only evolved far enough to have the bits that make you really mad all the time. The younger kids ride immature bulls that have been castrated so they are less full of hate and rage and mostly just want to be left alone. When they thrash a rider to the ground the usually just run to the other side of the arena and hope something like that never happens to them again. Ryan was riding and when the shoot opened he was doing really well but when his time was up he tried to get free and got tangled. He fell under the steer and it stomped right on him a couple of times trying to free itself from the riding harness. I was sick to my stomach watching him get trampled and go completely limp. He was obviously hurt badly but cowboy code requires a contestant to ignore personal well being and 'cowboy up' which is code for acting like a 500 pound animal stomping your face into the dirt is no big whoop. He stood up and took a few steps and collapsed and I felt sick because I thought he might be dead or dieing. The EMT's ran out and put him on a board and took him to the hospital where all the kings horses and men went to work. I don't remember what all he had to have done but he did have a hoof print clearly on his face and  part of his eyebrow went missing never to return. He had to spend quite a while convalescing and playing video games which was fine with me because I like video games and not being beat up because he couldn't for a while.   

Catching Tadpoles and Snakes

Here is the plan ya'll: we warm up and then bust out en masse all over this kids house capiche

I have written about how my dad was always trying to factory fish whenever he got the chance well it runs in the blood. When Justin and I would go out to catch tadpoles or snakes we would not just catch a few we would try and catch them all. We would get nets and buckets and go put in a hard day of extracting tadpoles and froglets from their home and putting them in buckets and aquariums to live until they became frogs or were neglected and died in the sun. We would have thousands in a bucket and they would start to eat each other when the food ran out. One time in the early spring we found a hibernating ball of about 30 garter snakes and caught them all and put them in the tadpole execution chamber aquarium. You may not think that a bunch of legless animals would be that hard to keep in a box with sheer walls and is made of glass but after they warmed up and got moving all but a few had slipped their bonds and were roaming free, in Justin's house. We had been playing video games and we went to check on them and there were only a few left in the aquarium but they were working out an escape plan and biding their time. We went and took a screen out of a window and put it over the top of the aquarium which we moved outside, which really is a better place for an aquarium full of snakes anyway. Justin's parents were not home so we frantically got to work rounding up snakes from his basement. We were only able to find and catch about ten which left us about 15 short. I knew snakes liked warm places so I set up a trap that consisted of a desk lamp and a box they could hide under and we left the area for an hour when we got back there were about eight snakes in the box and we figured that was good enough to keep us out of deep trouble and didn't bother to mention our scaly Steve McQueens to anyone. We released to other snakes back into the wild and counted ourselves lucky. They probably did too. 

Peeing on the Fence

Matt, not my brother Matt, was a neighbor of Justin's and he was a few years younger and super annoying. He was a know-it-all that would argue with us about everything and would tell on us whenever we were doing anything cool. He would always be hanging around irritating us and try in get in on whatever game we were playing. We would often let him participate in either a reconnaissance role or as a tip-of-the-spear type in dangerous, physically or disciplinary, assignments. Ryan had a cattle prod that he was fond of using on us when ever he got bored. A cattle prod is a stick with leads on the end that when you contact them give you a really good jolt of electricity. It was quite painful and so aversive that we would take great pains to avoid him and his toy. I tell you about the cattle prod because in Matt's back yard there was an electric fence that was basically the same thing just stationary. It was common knowledge that you should never touch the fence if you didn't want a jolt and it was widely rumored that peeing on it would make it double. Sometimes we would touch the fence just to see how bad it would be. It was painful but not unbearable. Matt came out and joined Ryan, Justin and I as we were touching it one day and told us that it didn't shock him at all. This was a lie and to call his bluff someone suggested he pee on the fence if it didn't hurt him at all. He said he would because he didn't care. We stood a little way back while he started to pee on the fence. His stream hit it again and again and nothing was happening. So Ryan decided to help the process along and ran up and kicked Matt hard in the butt causing him to stumble forward into the fence still in mid-pee. He ran into the wire mid thigh and it did shock him contrary to his claims and when it did he jerked back at the waist and released his still flowing penis as he fell backwards onto the ground he was peeing all over himself and screaming at Ryan that he was going to tell on him. We were laughing so hard that that sounded fine to us it was worth it. Ryan didn't get in trouble that day and as far as I knew he never did. Seeing that kid hit the electric fence and then pee on himself was one of the funniest things I had ever seen.

Super Hero Supplier

 I have always like to invent and create things and when I was hanging out with kids who liked to fight I built fighting things. I have mentioned about the water jug and motor cyborg enhancement suit that went horribly wrong and almost broke Justin's arm off. Well, I never let anything like massive failure and a little dismemberment slow me down so I decided to make a range of super hero/wizard-esque weapons based on fire. My customer base was thrilled with the idea and I got to work re-purposing a broom handle and a welding glove. With the broom handle I took a drill bit and drilled a hole right down the end and six inches deep. I affixed a wire loop that held a match over the end of the hole and them filled it up with gasoline and plugged the hole with a rubber stopper. To use the flame throwing stick you would strike the match and throw the stick forward while the match was still igniting and won't go out. If it was time right and the stopper popped out the way it should you could get a pretty awesome stream of flame. The welding glove was a thick leather glove that we would dip in gasoline that had Styrofoam dissolved in it to make it as thick as jelly. When you were ready to get the party started you would light the glove on fire and then wave it around in front of you while the noxious mixture burned in thick black plumes of smoke. In concept I thought it was going to look like you were holding a ball of clear blue flame it was mostly smoke. Not mostly, all. Even though they were not quite perfect Justin, Ryan and I had some fun playing with the stuff and would fantasize about using them in a desperate situation to turn the tide of battle. If we were ever in a battle, which to date we had not been but better be safe and armed with gasoline based weapons than sorry. So I guess 'safe' is a relative term in that last sentence.     

Taller if You Stretch

 Both Justin and Ryan were not very tall but one day Ryan showed me his plan for a remedy. He had rigged a weight to the end of a rope and had set it up so he could tie one end to his feet while he slept and hand the weight off the end of the bed. He had heard that this would make you taller. It did not. I know, because after I saw his ingenious contraption I went home and made myself one. I didn't have any weights so I had to use a brick which I put the rope through and tied to my ankle. It was uncomfortable but it was going to be worth it when I was 6' 4". Unfortunately, all I got for my trouble was a chafe around my ankle and a fitful night's sleep. I was not able to grow any taller but I learned what does not work and sometimes that is the most valuable lesson of all.  

Poop in a Bag

Open bag, insert manure. Repeat if desired. 

Sometimes the attacks were more personal than familial. One time Justin's neighbor girls were out camping in the field behind their house so we decided to go terrorize them. We started by creeping around to sneak up on them and scare them. That was okay fun but then Ryan started picking up dried cow pies and throwing it at them. They were scared at first but then they started to get angry and yelled at us. We started throwing more stuff at them and then Ryan broke out and ran into their little camp and snatched up a girls sleeping bag and shook her down into the bottom of the bag and held the open end up in the air. She was mad as hell and screaming about grievous bodily harm that she wished on all of us. Justin happened upon a fantastic plan, we should throw the cow poop into the bag. Bully genius. We grabbed up a few cow pies and threw them down the throat of the bag onto its very mad and increasingly vocal occupant. We were too caught up in the purely transcendent pleasure of loading cow poop into her bag that we didn't notice that the party was coming to an end in the form of her recently awakened and agitated father. He came out of the house and was across the back yard before we noticed and when he got out to us we scattered and ran to hide in the field. He yelled for us to come back but any kid who comes back when some one tells them to deserves what they get. We waited for the heat to blow over and then we went back to Justin's house where his dad was waiting for us and after midnight that is never a good sign. He didn't even ask our side of the story he just grabbed Ryan's arm and kicked him hard in the butt, then he did the same for Justin and then he pointed at me and told me I was going home. I heard that loud and clear went and got my sleeping bag and wadded it up in my haste and left. I walked the three blocks home in the middle of the night and snuck back into my house and fidgeted in fear for a few hours before I fell asleep. I guess they figured the incident was over and that I was not an instigator because no one ever called my parents and I never got in trouble. It was just fine with that.

Misunderstood Ice on the Door

 There was a family who's son I mentioned peeing on a another kids head. Well, they moved across town and were now Justin's neighbors and we hated them. They had a daughter older than us whom we ignored completely. They had a son one year older than us who we fought at every opportunity. This included throwing rocks at each other on the way back from school, regular trampoline wrestling, and sometimes fistfights. In the strange calculus of the relationships of young boys just because you fought with someone all the time did not mean you did not like them it was just how it worked out. They had a daughter a year younger than us that we hated, loathed, despised and wished hateful things upon. I really cannot remember what was so odious about that girl but she inspired a boiling rage that could only be cooled by antagonizing her and her family. One day in the late fall, around thanksgiving, I was sleeping over at Justin's house and we worked out a plan with Ryan to play a prank. It was below freezing so we thought a really funny joke would be to take a hose put it against their door and turn it on just enough to keep water flowing over their front door all night. The plan was executed and when we looked across the street in the morning it was beautiful there was a massive ice sculpture freezing the door shut and covering the entire porch and stems in a icy frosting of pranksters delight. The dad was out front trying to break it up with a hatchet and it looked like he might be really mad. While he chopped we knelt backwards on the couch looking out the window when all of the sudden he dropped his tool and started walking across the street. Our hearts dropped because we thought he was coming to tell and then there would be retribution swift and sure. We scrambled off the couch and went and hid in Ryan's room and waited. He knocked on the door and Justin's mom answered and talked to him for a second and then he left. We gave it a second and then moseyed out to see what the story was. We asked casually what the neighbor was up to and she said he was just asking if he could borrow something to get the ice off of his front porch because one of his kids had left a hose on. We were at once relived that our certain doom had been averted but we were also deeply saddened. There is nothing worse than for a prank to be misunderstood as a simple case of negligence or an accident instead of the brilliant plan that it was. Well, I guess it beats certain death.   

Burning Down the Sandbox

I always loved playing with fire and Justin and his brother Ryan were always on board for a little dabbling in pyromania. Their neighbor had some kids who were much younger than us and they had a great sandbox it was deep and pure and perfect for us to build a G.I. Joe ad worthy war diorama and populate it with many of Justin and Ryan's toys. Anyone who has built a diorama knows that building it is the only fun part and it is incredibly boring when it is finished. After about five minutes of pretend war play we switched over to to bringing so gas over from Justin's house to simulate some nice napalm and lake-o-fire effects. We would pour out a puddle of gas and light it with a match and make hilarious screaming in pain sounds for the plastic soldiers who were bravely dieing in the conflagration. After a few hours of amazing play time with all sorts of fire based scenarios were played out the neighbor came home from work and discovered his once pristine sandbox was destroyed. Well, if you think a sandbox filled with puddles of burning sooty gas and melted toys is destroyed then it was, in fact, destroyed. He was a little upset about it and he started yelling at us to clean it up and I, as is my style decided to avoid the conflict and when the neighbor walked away to go get some rakes and shovels for us to use to clean up I ran as fast as I could into a field to the south and kept running abandoning my comeuppance and my friends. I ran fast and hard the four block to my house and then hid in case, as was my private fear, that the neighbor would call my parents and bring down punishment on me. I spent the evening and most of the night with my stomach trying to climb up out of my throat while I contemplated the unendurable suffering that would surely be mine when I was ratted out. But nothing happened, when we went to church that Sunday I tried to avoid the man who's sandbox I destroyed but he came right up to my dad and joked with him about how I burned down his sandbox and then ran off as fast I could. For some reason them making fun of me hurt worse than the horrible dismemberment I thought I was going to get and I hated them both. 

Technically Food.

I have mentioned that Justin's family had a goat milk based diet, not based actually, but that is all I could taste most of the time. There were several meals that I got to share with Justin's family and I never remember a good one. It seemed like his mom liked to overcook everything so noodles were mushy, meat was like jerky but not in a good way and vegetables were boiled down into paste. My mom was not a regular by the schedule cook but when she did cook it was pretty good food. Justin had dinner or at least he had food ready every day at the same time ready to be served up and eaten if you were able. My normal technique for battling through horrible food was a quick bite and then a slug of milk to cleanse the pallet and send the vile sustenance on its way. The goat milk was the flaw in that coping mechanism. There I would be; hungry and having to do battle with my rising gorge, both literally and figuratively, with nothing but my will power alone with no milk for succor. I powered through and never backed down from the challenge. It was interesting for me to learn years later that my wife who happened to live down the road from Justin when she was growing up was sometimes babysat by his mother. After we were married she was describing some traumatizing food she had to eat at a babysitters house and I explained about my friend who's mother served foul food and we realized we were talking about the same food, and bonded.  

Cat Dying Revenge

I am not a cat person, that is not to say I am a dog person either, I am a animals-should-not-be-in-our-houses person and I don't like extra chores. For example,  I have a device, for the humans in my house, that whisks my excrement off and away and automatically refills itself for another use. With a cat you get all of the joy of picking through some stinky poop dirt and throwing it out by hand, like a gosh danged cave person. It is the future people, poop of any species should not be handled. Now, we don't have the jet packs we were promised, but dagnabit have we not progressed any further in our excrement disposal technology then letting a aloof feline poop in some nice smelling sand contained in Tupperware for us to clean up later. Imagine if one billionth of the time and effort that has been put into smart phone games, development and play time, had been put into poop management systems we would have real-time disposal and truly odorless cat-ladies. I have not digressed onto that little rant because I had never gress-ed and therefore could not have digressed. The gression that I was going to gress before I meandered over to the comically fruitful plain of feline feces and plucked some low hanging fruit was about a time that Justin and I saw a cat die from drinking anti-freeze. We were at his house after school and found his new mother cat in deep distress under the cab-over portion of a camper that was resting on the ground. She was breathing heavily and was meoweling horrifically in considerable pain. We tried to make her comfortable because even though we were not cat fans per se there is a need for even rough boys to save the day. After an hour of horrible suffering she aloof the sudden shot strait up ran in a circle horizontally and then ran in one vertically using the cab-over for her upper floor and a barrel for her vertical decent. She yowled one last pathetic time and was dead. After she died she threw up some antifreeze as her body convulsed. Now that we knew the cause of death there was only one logical explanation, a convoluted plot by the neighbor to kill the cat and make it look like an accident. They had a crazy old lady and her reclusive thirty something son living in a house across the road that was always hassling us and yelling about someone stealing stuff from her. Our logical assumption was that by no accident that old lady or her son had compelled the unfortunate tabby to drink the common, but poisonous, automotive fluid by subtle trickery and subterfuge. We snuck over to look for evidence, we didn't find any, that only meant we were dealing with one of those extra sneaky cat murderers that take pains to cover their tracks. We decided on planning a revenge suitably gruesome to adequately punish someone who would kill a cat with the cowards weapon of poison. We thought of lots of great and funny plans but ran out of time to exact sweet vengeance before it was time to go home for dinner, homework and bed. We planned for several more day but the pure white hot fury of seeing a murdered cat had cooled in our hearts and that combined with cowardice led us to abandon the execution portion of our retributive plans.

The Replacement Paper Boy

Yeah, it looks great but is it  bulletproof?

Justin had a paper route and I thought that was an awesome job. All you had to do was deliver forty newspapers every day for a month and you would get eighty dollars if you could collect it. The collection part was the part I did not understand he, after faithfully delivering a paper daily would have to go up and beg for his money, and the people would blow him off and say they would pay him later. But he had to pay the paper company no matter what so non-payment came out of his end. I told him if it were me they would not get another paper after they didn't pay and when they did pay they could resume service but he said the paper company would fire you if you did that and you just had to eat the difference or bug the customer until they paid. This was injustice on the most minor scale but it burned me up something fierce. When Justin and his family were to be away he had to find a replacement for his paper route or loose his job. I would try and volunteer every single time because I loved rolling or bagging the papers, putting on the apron and filling it up and taking of with a mission on my bike. I really felt deputized like I was helping complete some vital task that depended on my dedication and strength, and it was fun to have an official-ish job. Most of the paper route would be going along fine but when I would turn down this one road there was a bully named Jared who loved to antagonize the paperboy. He was usually throwing stuff or threatening loudly but on occasion he would break out the big guns, literally. He had a pellet gun that he would sit out on his porch with it and pump it up and menace me. He was the same age as my older sister and her best friend lived across the street so he would call me Christy's-brother.
He would yell out, “Hey Christy's-brother want me to shoot you?”
I would whimper-yell back, “No.” Now that I consider it he may have been asking rhetorically and didn't require a response.
He would pump the gun once or twice and holler as I delivered the four papers that went to the houses on his block. Every once in a while he would aim and shoot at me and then go back to yelling, threatening and pumping. You know? I hated that block, it was not worth the $2.60 to put up with that. He was a mercifully poor shot and never hit me but he had shot Justin before so it was possible and that kept the fear in it. The really tragic part was that it was not the worst job I would ever have.

Goats Milk Ammo

 Justin's family had goats, and they drank the milk, to the exclusion of what I called regular milk or good milk. When I was over and we were having a meal they would roll out the goat milk as a beverage or as some kind or blasphemous insult to cold cereal. I was not a fan and would try and avoid it at all costs. What I did love though was milking goats. Justin was in the rotation to milk them, a job he was not super excited about but I really loved doing it. You would walk the goat up onto a stand and secure her head with a lever and to keep her occupied and docile you fed her at the same time. Unlike cows which have four teats goats have two which is ideal for the two handed milker. The goats expect a firm and rhythmic milking and not only tolerate it but seem to get relief from the pressure of their udders so they are interested in getting milked for that reason. What makes them agitated is when an amateur like myself was yanking clumsily at the teat instead of applying the steady smooth pressure that extracted milk quickly and efficiently. I could barely get out a trickle while Justin and Ryan could make the metal pail ring with the jet of milk hitting its side. They could also turn that awesome extractive power for evil by pointing it at me and squirting a warm stream of goat milk right into my face. I would always want to give them a little payback but my retaliation fell as droplets out of the teat going no more than a few inches and giving my targets more of a cause for laughter then the thorough goat milk soaking they deserved. 

Double Dragon

For Christmas the year I turned 11 Justin and Ryan got an Atari 7800. This was when Atari looked like it might compete with Nintendo and Sony was still five years out from dipping its toe into the console wars. They received a few games with the system that I cannot remember but the one I absolutely loved was Double Dragon. It was like a nerd had a fantasy about his girlfriend being kidnapped by an evil black man and he was able to beat up like a million tough and super tough baddies to get he back, and then made it into a game. It was like they had read my mind, I would fight for my woman with my pretend Karate skills just like the Dragon  brothers were forced to, so I better practice up strategically so I knew what do do in the heat of battle.

The box art promise. Notice the Dragons only need vests , no shirt or chest hair ,  to do battle with a menacing black man with no shirt and his army of foot soldiers and bosses all dedicated to making sure he was able to hold on to the hot white girl. Notice the hero's  come armed with a knife and a whip both invaluable weapons to the shirtless vigilante street fighter. 
Nailed it. I think we can agree this is basically the box art moving and fighting. 
I was really bad at the game so I only got turns on the non 'conquering the game' tries. Justin and Ryan would play deep into the game taking hours because there was no way to save so a push to the end was not to be taken in bits and pieces, it required Herculean effort and Sun Tzu like tactical skill, and the dedication to power through a sore thumb, and bladder control, I mean God help the boy who had to go pee in crunch time. All this to save a little bit of digital hotness from certain defilement at the hands of the pixelated villain. If it was my turn death was swift and unjust as I had clearly been pushing the jump button when I fell down that hole, I was pushing it, that stupid computer cheated. Then it wouldn't cheat when Ryan was playing so I would watch the game like a movie for hours while they did battle and one day while I was there they beat it and we were honestly euphoric jumping around high-fiving and laughing. To the non-nerd it is really hard to explain why I was so excited to see someone else accomplish a basically meaningless feat of digital dexterity but for all the hard core geeks they know the feeling, better if it is your own but not bad if you are just watching. 

The Rendezvous

If you are not deep into the hillbilly culture you may not know about a little cos-play reenactment festival that is held several times a year around the country known as the Mountain Man Rendezvous. Modeled after the twice yearly trading meetings held by trappers and hunters to trade furs for supplies the modern rendezvous has a lot more kettle corn than the original but is otherwise identical. I jest, it is mainly middle aged men wearing leather clothing and using 19th century arms for contests of skill. There is also more commemorative plates featuring reproductions of the James Fraser 'End of the Trail' statue than at the original rendezvous. Justin and his family loved the Mountain Man and his dad had a full blown leather suit, black powder guns and the whole nine yards. I was able to go with them one year and when we drove into the valley where it was being held it was awesome to behold the teepee's and wall tents and it really looked like the past only cleaner with a lot more station wagons. We got out and walked around to the different booths and vendors most people were dressed to some degree in primitive clothes and they were shooting guns and cannons, in short it was the greatest thing I had ever seen. I wanted to be a mountain man so badly they all had great clothes, guns, and knifes; they lived off the land and didn't need help from no one. They had some Indian dancers come and do a couple traditional dances which was awesome as well. They had shooting contests, knife throwing contests, tomahawk throwing contests, and archery contests for all age groups so I gave a few of them a try. It may not seem like it would be hard to throw a tomahawk thirty feet and then stick it in the end of a stump but it turns out there is some skill to it. My first couple of throws missed the stump quite badly which was a harsh reality check for the image of the martial prowess that I supposed myself to have based on my fantasizing. We had lots of fun and came home the next day tired and happy. I was so excited that I wrote in my journal, which I rarely did, that I wanted to be a mountain man when I grew up. I did write that I could be a mountain-man-paleontologist, really the best of all possible scenarios in the mind of a pre-girl interested boy. After my trip to the rendezvous I practiced throwing a hatchet a lot which is basically like a tomahawk just available at army/navy stores for 5 dollars. Despite my intense interest the desire to dress in leather clothing and trap for a living never translated into anything more concrete and I sadly am not a mountain person.

My Wonderful Mother

 I have a great mom. She is sweet, caring and full of love for everything weak, sad or helpless. When we were growing up my mom was always there for us to take care of our tragedies big and small, real and imagined. She is always willing to take the time to listen to someone in need and spend whatever time they require to let them know that she cares about them. She is always looking for ways to serve others and take care of those wounded by life. She taught us all the finer points of civil disobedience and has continued the tradition of scofflaw-ing with my children teaching them how to trespass and not get caught. The reason for teaching proper trespassing is simple, it is because all of the best adventures are behind gates and fences clearly labeled 'No Trespassing'. She was the type of mom that liked to take us out on what she called 'high risk outdoor adventures' and press forward into where the world keeps all of the real fun. There was severe flooding in the middle 80's and many of the roads in the canyon by our house were washed completely out. That only sweetened the pot of the hiking payout now with danger, posted signs and a great day of exercise we were into the fabled recreation trifecta, so of course we partook. When we came to badly washed out sections my mom would lead out across the narrow strips of road that were left demonstrating how to hold onto scrub oak to help us keep our balance as were braved the washed out precipice. It was a great day and just one of many that mom mom took us on always teaching us to embrace life and the experience at every moment. She is an amazing woman and a better mother.

Peteetneet Hill-Billies

For gravitational acceleration there was not much better sledding than the side hill of a decommissioned school in the next town over named after a displaced Indian chief – Peteetneet. It is about a hundred feet tall and awesomely steep with deep ruts worn through the snow to icy dirt. On any given holiday or weekend in the winter there would be a couple of hundred people sledding and tubing down the hill and trying to hike back up without falling back down or being assaulted accidentally or on purpose by other sledders coming down the hill. When I would go with Justin and Ryan we were always causing accidents of the on purpose variety. We wouldn't aim for little kids or families but any boys around our age we would take careful aim on our tube from the top of the hill take a running start and jump on and try to take them out on their way back up the hill. Ryan and Justin liked to really cream people and hopefully start a fight because they were quite violent by nature. I, on the other hand would always try and miss and if I did hit someone, by genuine accident I would apologize profusely to avoid conflict. When I got to the top of the hill again I would pretend that I was super mad that I had missed my target and try and line up another near miss to keep my bully street cred intact. We would spend a couple of hours sledding, hitting and hiking until we were soaked through and our parents came to pick us up. Cold, wet, and worn out sounds like a pretty terrible day to me now so I am glad I got it out of the way when I didn't whine so much.

A Chucked Cat Propulsion System

Justin and his family were hunters and of the 'with dog' variety. They had some really great German short hair dogs who would do what you told them to do. I know there are lots of dogs trained to obey commands but it was always weird for me to see one because most of the dogs in Santaquin and especially my dog Beau didn't give two craps about what you told him to do. These dogs had the demeanor of subservient obedience that comes from constant training and hard justice for disobedience. In the winter of the year I was 10 years old we were sledding at this abandoned basement excavation but between the depression and the hill of extracted dirt there was only about a twenty foot drop that ended pretty abruptly. We were looking for some sledding with less of a concussion factor when Justin and I stumbled upon a beautiful plan. Like the mighty Eskimo (and they were still Eskimo back then they had not yet become Inuit) we decided to harness the power of dogs to pull our sled. We tied one of the his trained up dogs to the sled and then tried to get her to pull us but we would only go in fits and starts. That is when Justin discovered the trick to getting real speed and power out of our rig. He got the family cat and held it in his lap while I held the dog's leash so she would point out strait. Justin would then throw the cat as hard as he could out in front of the dog and he was off to the races. That dog shot forward trying to catch the cat and pulled Justin at a tremendous speed until he was scraped off on the corner of the house that he was third to go around. The only real problem with our system was that the cat would just go and run up a tree and the ride was over in about 40'. While we tried to coax our little motivator out of the tree we were working out a cat on a rope on a long stick situation that would give us unlimited power. We were unable to execute the plan because the cat would not get out of the tree and it got dark. We decided to try the new plan on another day but Justin's mom strictly forbade using the cat as bait to motivate the dog to pull us in a sled. So we resigned ourselves to purely gravitational sled propulsion, like poor people use.

Robot Minions

 We had taken about as many beatings off of Ryan as we were going to and we started devising plans for revenge. We were constantly working out fantasy ways in which the 'Dingo Warrior' would get a world class beat down. Some were just absurd, the creation of a gang with us at the helm calling out thrashings on a whim. While others were more practical, we would build cyborg strength enhancement suits and give him the beating our selves. Well, that was obviously the method of vengeance that we needed to pursue. We started by drawing up plans, and by plans of course I mean we drew cool pictures of super awesome robotic enhancements that a boy could wear. We had limited fabrication facilities and abilities so we decided to find stuff that looked very much like what we wanted the final product to look like and make minor alterations. The chassis we found was a 5 gallon square water container which we made wearable by cutting out a large hole in the bottom for Justin's waist, a smaller hole in the top for his head, and a couple of arm holes and we had a older brother resistant armor. 
We cut off all that handle and nozzle nonsense and added arm and head holes. Voila!
Once we had the chassis is was time to start in with the enhancements. We got a swamp-cooler motor with a cradle mount and bolted it onto the back of the rig right in line with his right arm. Then we smashed the end of a two foot long piece of electrical conduit and drilled a hole through it and epoxied it to the shaft of the motor. The fact that we only glued and didn't bolt or weld it on may have saved Justin's arm from major damage. We wired the motor to a power cord and put it through a box with a light switch for activating and deactivating the super punch feature of our cybernetic doom suit. We had originally designed it to be self contained but we didn't know how to do that so we would have to only give retribution in teams of two and within reach of a power socket. Justin slipped the 5 gallon suit on and we tapped the conduit to his arm and giddily readied ourselves for a real game-changer in the power dynamic. I plugged in the motor and asked if Justin was ready, he was, and I hit the switch. I don't think what happened could be called a unqualified success. When the motor activated it tried to turn 360 degrees over and over 1160 times a minute Justin's arm was more designed to go maybe 90 degrees once, and not nearly that fast. His shoulder and the motor were also not concentric and that immediately caused an alignment problem with his arm being twisted not just in a circle but backwards and down at the same time. He started screaming almost instantly and quite a bit. Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow! Ooooooooooow! His screaming panicked me and I didn't turn the thing off for maybe 10 seconds. A couple of things probably save the functionality of Justin's arm: 1: We had only taped it to his arm allowing for a degree of slippage to occur, 2: we had only used a ¼ hp motor which caused a lot of pain but was far below what was needed to jerk his arm clean off, 3: The bars attachment to the motor shaft was round and when the epoxy broke the motor shaft could spin freely. Those turned out not to be design flaws but features, safeguards of incompetence. We pulled him up off of the ground and sat him uncomfortably in a chair, the plastic jug suit tended to pinch when it any position but standing up and strait. We untaped his arm and helped him out of the power suit of doom and took a look at his arm. Bruised, quite badly bruised all over his shoulder and upper arm and he said it hurt really bad when he moved it in any direction or held it completely still. We decided that this advanced type of anti-bully cyborg technology was years out and we shelved the project. Justin's arm got better which is good because later in life he lost the use of his legs in a traffic accident so two working arms is definitely a plus. I also reaffirmed my conviction that I should never test my inventions on myself.   

The Trampoline, a Dingo Warrior, and Top Guns

I think where Justin may have become unbalanced as far as violence was concerned was from his older brother Ryan. He was a guy who at turns could be exceptionally cool our terribly cruel. As we got older Ryan, his cousin Nathan and I got to be better friends than Justin and I but early on he was a terrorist. Over at Justin's house we would spend a lot of time jumping and wrestling out on the trampoline, that was fun. If Ryan saw us he would rush out and abuse us which was not fun. One thing he loved to do was run out to the tramp full speed jump on and throw every one who was on the tramp off onto the ground. He was doing this in emulation of a very popular professional wrestler at the time called the 'Dingo Warrior'. The real Dingo, who would later change his name to 'The Ultimate Warrior', would run as fast as he could down the gangway and into the ring and start shaking the ropes up and down as hard as he could. After the ersatz Dingo had thrown us all off the tramp he would demand we got back on, which was mandatory because if you didn't and tried to run the punishment was doubly bad. I really know how The Clash felt when faced with the same conundrum; if I go there will be trouble but if I stay it will be double. We would usually climb back on the tramp as he flexed and peacocked with his sleeves rolled up and slapping his biceps and calling out in a deep wrestling voice about the carnage he was about to bring down on us. Then we would be pile driven and power slammed while we tried ineffectually to resist the awesome power of the Dingo Warrior. He would slam us over and over and put us in painful locks and chokes until he bored of the game and then once again he would throw us off the tramp onto the ground. The other game he had us play with for his amusement was based on the blockbuster film Top Gun. He would pick up projectiles usually small rocks, but he wouldn't turn a nice stick away if one was at hand, and he would tell us to try and jump in a manner so as to avoid being shot by him as he circled the tramp firing away at us. When you were shot by a rock you were dead and got to stop jumping and sit on the side until all of the MIGs were shot down by rocks and the game would reset as another interceptor wing was launched and started jumping evasively again. Unlike at our house where a bulling game generally stopped when someone started crying, tears were like pay to Ryan and why stop working when you are getting paid? It just makes sense to work over time an get that time-and-a-half.

Justin is Crazy, Mean

 When I was 10 I made friends with a kid who lived a few blocks down the road from me and he was crazy mean. He was always right on the edge of escalating any situation turn violent. That sounds straight forward but it was not. For example, we were walking home from school one day and we were talking about building on the fort and out of the blue he told me to look up in the sky at something I did and as soon as my throat was exposed he karate chopped it as hard as he could. If you have never been struck hard in the throat you may not know that it is spectacularly painful, but not in a good way. I was writhing around on the ground trying to breathe Justin was standing there laughing saying I never saw it coming and I looked hilarious when I got hit and dropped to the ground. You would think this type of randomly violent behavior would be a friendship deal breaker but I was so desperately nerdy and such a social pariah that it was Justin or being friendless. Many of my inventions and building projects required two people so I had to have a friend. The inventions needed to be tested too. He was also a hard worker and shared many of my interests. We both loved fishing, camping and building forts so when he was not doing something completely insanely violent he was a really good friend. Besides hanging out with Justin I was also friends with his older brother and his cousin who were both a year older than us and worked with us on many projects, so I don't want to give the impression that I was in a completely abusive friendship we had a lot of fun when he wasn't trying to kill me.  

One Amazing Morning

 On the nudest marred trip to Lake Powell we had a massive wind storm one night and we were all forced to hide in the campers and in tents. The wind whipped sand around all night and shook the camper but by about 4:30 in the morning it was completely calm. My dad came out and asked all of the boys that were camping out if we would like to go fishing but only my cousin Blake and I wanted to because everyone else was still exhausted from being up all night. It is like they didn't have their priorities strait, tragic. Blake, and my dad and I got loaded up and drove the boat out in the predawn light to a wall that dropped off into the water and went strait down 120'. We were slowly getting our poles rigged and out when I put mine in first, it had been in the water for only a few seconds when I had a good sized stripped bass on. Blake put in his pole and he had one on my dad had two poles in and they both had one on all in less than a minute. We got the fish off and quickly re-baited and the second time was just as fast as the first. Right then we realized we were into something special. My dad abandoned his second pole because there was just not enough time in between strikes to use it. We hauled in fish after fish after fish laughing and joking the whole time. We had been using anchovies for bait and had started the day with several pounds but by the time we had caught over a hundred fish our stocks were running dangerously low. We started the day using half of an anchovy, then an quarter, then an eighth and that was the minimum that would actually fit on a hook. By the end of the morning we were trying to mash up any little scrap of anchovy that we could mush onto a hook. Finally, with hundreds of pounds of fish in the bottom of the boat and no bait left we went back to camp. It was about nine in the morning and all the lazy-bums had decided to roll out of bed and they came down to the boat the see how we had done. When they saw the hundreds of fish in the boat they were sick with jealousy and quickly helped to unload the boat so they could go get more bait and head back out and get a little slice of the fishing glory pie. They headed right back out with new bait but the moment had passed the fish gods had moved their benevolent gaze away from the wall we had so much success at and they only caught 5 or 6 fish in four hours. The lesson here is clear; no matter how you feel always go fishing, always. You never know when it will be the best day fishing in the history of the world and why would you risk that? Why?

Freebirds, or I Don't Know Why an Uncaged Bird Sings

 I have briefly mentioned our clothing optional neighbors, but we were basically all prepubescent so having some naked women cavorting in the next camp over meant nothing to us, except we did think it was really funny. Our parents were very concerned that we were going to sneak a peak and become corrupted so they were very careful to make sure only they got a good look. When we were driving into our camp I was sitting in the cab of our camper with my dad and he took a good look at a topless lady as we drove past and only remarked that she was going to get burned. One day when we were heading out to do some water weenie-ing my cousin Blake and I were riding on the toy when my dad pulled us right past a lady so tan and so old that her nudity was most disturbing. She looked like an old leather shoe that has been chewed on by a mischievous puppy. She was also so hirsute that from a distance it appeared she was wearing a bikini bottom and maybe smuggling a few squirrels under her arms. This is when I realized that the fantasy of nudism is much better that the reality. I am sure she was feeling free and easy and reveling in the knowledge that she would have no tan lines. 
Oh, yeah, old lady don't take it off, don't take it all off.
Like this but not so hot and naked in a silver float tube. 
We were just horrified. My brother and cousin happened upon another nudest while out paddling the canoe and both were accused of trying to manufacture the encounter. Which would have been odd if a couple of 9-year-olds would have even been interested, which they weren't, but their protestations of prior ignorance were ignored. This may have been reaction formation on the part of my cousin's step-dad who more than once was observed with binoculars reconnoitering the naturalist position. Most likely in the most chaste manner, purely to make sure of their exact state of undress and location so that we were spared the contact. God bless that selfless man.   

Lake Powell

 We have a huge lake here in Utah that was made when they damned the Colorado River. It filled up all of the little canyons for about 100 miles but it is not very wide at any point just long and skinny with thousands of little inlets. It was about a five hour drive from our home in Santaquin and once a year or every two years my family would go down there with another family or youth group. We had a little boat for fishing and water weenie-ing and knee boarding and we would live in our cab over camper while we played and fished for a week or so. One of the first times I remember going down there was with the Attaway cousins soon after their mom had remarried and had two new little babies. We camped at the end of a really long canyon and the only other people down there were a group of clothing optional partying types. It was well over a hundred degrees the whole week we were down there so unless it was early in the morning before dawn when we could go fishing in the cool we spent the rest of the day in the shade cast by the camper or in the water. At the bottom of the water was some really lovely mud and you could dip down and grab a handful and come up like a Navy Seal and chuck it at anyone else who's head had breached the surface of the water.
Like this but with mud instead of nextgen weapons but otherwise it felt just like this.

 It was such a fun game that we did it for hours and hours every day. It was such a free flowing game the rules were simple the first one who cried signaled the end of the game. After fishing in the morning we would wade in mud fight until lunch eat and wade back into to battle until dinner time and then it would have cooled off enough to go fishing again. People always wonder why kids are so much happier than adult and it is stuff exactly like this that is the reason why. Simple pleasures purely enjoyed without reason.  

The Waddley-Acha, Doodly Doo

When the three Attaway cousins that were around my age were about 10 or so their mom remarried and had some kids with her new husband. Being in a second family ten years apart the new kids were more like entertainment then siblings. My cousin Brooke had a hilarious little dance she used to do with the little baby Brittney – the second of the new batch of kids. She would pick Brittney up by her foot and swing her back and forth in a funny dance set to the tune of 'Waddle-Acha, Doodly Doo'. She would swing her back and forth and in a circle entertaining us and Brittney at the same time. The finale was usually Brooke slamming Brittney down on the bed or sofa she was using for a safety net and timing it so it landed on the last syllable of 'Doodly-Doooooooo!'. My brother and I thought the performance was so funny that we used to terrorize my little sister by repeating it with her precious baby dolls. We would start it out the same by holding the baby doll by her foot and then we would take it in a much darker direction by singing the song but on every 'Doo' we would slam the doll into something hard tryig to break something off. If you worked it out perfectly on the final refrain of 'Doodly Doooooo' you would slam the doll down and , God willing, knock its head clean off. We loved that game, my little sister not to much. So she used the one weapon at the disposal of little sisters from time immemorial, the tattle. My mom sided with the property rights advocate without considering the artistic merit of our dance and awarded my sister new dolls to be paid for by my brother and I. I think those replacement dolls may have been shot at some point but it is hard to remember which ones exactly because so many dolls got shot.

Stealing From Kid Cousins

 Besides the bread incident it was almost always us eating the Attaway cousins good food to excess. They had good and fun food like fruit snacks and soda just sitting around to be eaten on a whim. One thing that turned out to be off limits was the desserts in what my brother Matt and cousin Brent called 'kid cousins'. They were actually frozen dinners for children named 'Kid Cuisine', but they both were mispronouncing it. They didn't know the first couple of times that my aunt asked about who was stealing the desserts out of the Kid Cuisine boxes that she was referring to the 'kid cousin' boxes. They had pilfered quite a few before she sat us all down and asked who was taking the tasteless frozen brownies out of the boxes she was now holding up. Everything seemed to then click and the culprits confessed, were reprimanded and repented of their sweat-toothed thievery. I took the opportunity to mock them both for not knowing how to pronounce the word cuisine. Because that is the kind of jerk I am.

Bread Massacre

 Generally our food was not as good as the Attaway cousins but once when they were sleepoing over my mom had just bought four loafs of the most amazing white bread. It was soft and chewy and sweet and we purloined a loaf to eat while my two cousins, my brother and I were sleeping out on the trampoline. We were taking stacks of four soft slices and biting through them all at once. We were peeling off the crust and then wadding up the rest of the dough into a ball and eating a tasty, tasty dough ball. We were taking a single slice and trying to stuff the whole thing in our mouth at once. The only problem was that we ran out of supplies fairly quickly but the show must go on, and another loaf was secreted out to our bivouac. The second loaf was gone almost as soon as it landed and a third was required to keep the party rolling. Like a gambler chasing losses we were back at the metaphorical bread ATM at two in the morning promising ourselves that this was the last trip and then we were going to quit no matter what. But an addict never quits until then supply is exhausted and the fourth loaf was procured and devoured. Riding a carb high he goofed off late in the night until our blood sugar plummeted and we were off to the restful slumber of the diabetic coma. My mom was outside at the side of the trampoline early in the morning ruining our gluten hangover sleep in with some crazy accusations that we ate all of the bread for an entire week for a family of 8. I protested that the bread would have lasted 5 days tops and that she was exaggerating. She wouldn't be reasoned with and I had to give up my allowance for the next week to buy back some of the bread. It was really her fault for buying good bread instead of the usual wheat bread. It is like punishing a man for drinking when he comes out of the high in fiber desert.   

Fort Nails

Oh yeah that is the one right there  the object of my desire. 

 I mentioned that nails were one of the two choke points in the construction of ever bigger and better forts. The second was, of course, wood. Besides recycling and theft we didn't have much of a method to get more wood because no one in town sold it and we had no way to transport it anyway. The nails were always available, at a price. When we had some money from a birthday windfall or a payment for a job my brother and sister and I would get on our bikes and head up to main street and drop into the only hardware store in Santaquin, Stringham's hardware. Stringham's was a nail buyers paradise they had long ones short ones and the greatest nail of them all a glue coated one that we called 'sinkers'. Those nails would heat up as they were driven and the glue would melt and fix the in place which was good, they cost about twice as much as regular nails which was bad. We would head into the store and over to the huge bins of nails that were on a spindle in the center that would spin around letting you weigh you fastening options. Yes, you could walk right in a grab the three fingered nail hook and drag out a couple of pounds of 16 penny nails and be on your way, but you would miss out on the delicious agony of selection. What if we were to get the smaller cheap nails for paneling and roofing and extended our nail buying dollar? What ratio of short to long will get that new wing built today? These were the pressing questions that the youthful and poverty stricken nail buyer always had to consider. We were not good at getting the right amount for the money we had so we would tell the owner Kurt what our budget was and he would help us sort out the best bang for our nail buying buck. I even noticed one time that he was quite generous on the weighing when he was getting us some nails and it was well over the two pounds of nails we could afford at the listed price. It was a couple of cents worth of nails but I thought the world of a guy who is not stingy in the measure when it comes to helping kids build. We would take our nails home giddy with the possibilities and we could once again expand the danger of our construction up and out and back up again. One nail, and hopefully no more, at a time.