Tag Archives: Bobby Manard

The Day Fairyland Burned

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away … oh, wait, wrong intro. But it was a long time ago, maybe about 1953 or there-about, when this disaster took place. And the galaxy was Waveland, MS at the summer home of my aunt and uncle. They owned twenty acres of kid-friendly heaven in Waveland. Translation: lots of woods to play in and minimal to zero adult supervision.

It began simply enough: Fairyland caught fire! GADS! That place of wonderment we kids thought possessed mystical qualities because our parents told us (liars) that fairies lived there, was burning!

Fairyland is the yellow circle. Red square was my uncle’s property.

Actually, Fairyland was a garbage dump on the neighbor’s property, because there was no garbage pick-up “a long time ago in that galaxy far, far away” of Waveland. Careless burning initiated by our parents must have caused the fire?

And then again, maybe it was caused by us kids and our Labor Day fireworks?

Whatever, Fairyland was in flames, and a conflagration of epic proportions was rapidly spreading. Where would all the displaced fairies live? Oh, the humanity!

We begged our parents to get involved. “Ummm, adults, there’s a forest fire out behind the house…”

Their reaction was immediate and decisive. “Sure sure. Can you get me another cold Regal from the ice chest?”

We kids resumed our fire-watch as the flames marched ever closer to the house, eating its way through the dried pine needles that littered the ground like a brown carpet everywhere you looked in Waveland. WE ARE ALL GONNA DIIIEEEE!

Finally, FINALLY, we were able to motivate our parents into action. Actually, the smell of burning pine needles may have been more of a motivator? Picking up his beer, Boo, my uncle trudged out of the comfortable confines of the screened porch around to the side of the house, and he saw it. His response: “Oh crap!”

There was an immediate call to action. “FIRE!!!” Well, maybe that is overstating it just a bit? Boo returned to the screened porch and said something like, “Umm, we have a small problem we probably kinda-maybe should take care of—like soon?”

The others looked up from the Chesterfield cigarette smoke and Regal beers. “Like what kind of a problem, exactly?”

“A small matter of a fire behind the house.”

We kids all chimed in then, “Yeah, and Fairyland burned down, and all the fairies are now displaced, refugees! Where will they go?”

With that, the slightly inebriated, adult fire brigade sprang into action with Boo shouting orders, and the others stumbling around attempting to obey. They dragged out a garden hose and attempted to reach the fire with it only to come up short by about fifty yards.

We kids formed a fire brigade of our own and commandeered a toy wagon and several buckets, which we filled with water at the free-flowing artesian well. Buckets filled, we dragged the creaky overloaded wagon to the site of the disaster. The terrain was a bit rough, so by the time we got there, most of the water had sloshed out of the buckets. We made trip after trip as our parents shoveled and batted the fire down with wet sacks and sandal-shod feet (ouch!).

And the world—well, at least all of Waveland—was saved from a flaming disaster. In other words, we finally got the fire out. Much relieved and exhausted, not to mention thirsty, they retired once more to the screened porch for fresh cans of Regal, Falstaff, and Jax beer. We kids rewarded ourselves with Nehi sodas, RC colas, pop rouge, and 7Ups.

Back at school Monday morning, we shared, with our classmates, our tales of derring-do, fighting the great forest fire that destroyed Fairyland.

And all was well with the world again. Except for the fairies who were left homeless and wandering aimlessly around Never-Never-Land, that is.

 

Dedicated to my cousin Bobby.

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Earthworms

Me, Manard, Joey 1953I often see posts on Facebook about things we did in our childhood that are considered “very dangerous” today. We ran around barefoot, played with firecrackers (and some of those were potent enough to take off a finger or two), rode in the bed of pickups, played on gym sets that would be the targets for litigation today, got spanked (child abuse today), played with fire, drank from the hose, had pet red ear turtles, rode go-carts in the street, roller skated behind said go-carts, and was made to sit on the front porch in one’s grandmother’s dress while reading the Bible because one used profanity—and got caught. (Yes, that really happened to someone—not me. Another clear case of child abuse!)

After this long list of things we did as kids, the FB post usually ends with “and we survived.” And we did. My, how times have changed.

One of the members of our little rat pack of kids, who barely survived the fifties and sixties, was a couple of years younger and smaller than the rest of us. Though smaller, he was wiry and strong, and very hard to catch and hold on to and bring down when he was carrying the football. (Yes, add tackle football without any protection to that list above.) As a result, he picked up a nickname, “Grease-ball” shortened to just “Grease.

Grease went on to become a successful “rock star” (he even played at Hard Rock Café one night) and eventually developed some modicum of respectability as an attorney, father, and grandfather, thus the need to protect his identity.

Grease, being younger and wanting to fit in, was susceptible to dares from us older boys, especially the impossible-to-refuse-ultimate-throw-down “double-dog-dare.” As pointed out so well in the great, classic movie A Christmas Story the double-dog-dare was never taken lightly, and its use called for a series of gradually escalating dares that culminated in the double-dog-dare.

Poor Grease was often the victim of abuse by us older boys, especially after our failure to tackle him in a football game. One form of such abuse, and I have no idea who started it (Grease may remember), but we double-dog-dared him to eat an earthworm—a live worm—and swallow it—on more than one occasion.

I can see one such time in my mind as I write this. It took place in the vacant lot across Sixth Street (now Toledano Street) from my grandmother’s house on the corner with Minor Street. This same empty lot was our favorite playing field, just the right size for a football game or even baseball until we got big enough to hit the ball across the field into one of the Giammalva’s windows, or a fun game of shoot the arrow up in the air and see where it lands. (Add that one to the list, too.) At the end near Sixth Street were two trees, a sidewalk, and the ubiquitous open ditch (but that’s another story).

On this occasion, we stood under those two trees and dangled a wiggling earthworm in front of Grease’s face while we hit him with the double-dog-dare. He looked scared, though he tried to hide it and look defiant instead. But with me, Manard, Kibby, and Joey standing there and repeating, “we double-dog-dare-you,” Grease had no choice but to eat the worm. It was that or be compelled to live forever in the shame of refusing a double-dog-dare, never finding acceptance with the older boys and forever wondering aimlessly in the wilderness of social peer rejection. That was NOT going to happen as far as Grease was concerned.

I think his lower lip trembled involuntarily for just a second before he snatched the worm from Manard’s hand and dropped it into his open mouth in such a way that it was clear to the rest of us that he was indeed eating that worm.

I don’t think he chewed, but he did swallow.

I wanted to throw up.

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Fire and Fireworks

Boys have a fascination with fire. The fact that we like to grill is an indication of that. One of the reasons I joined the Boy Scouts (Troop 176) was so I could play with fire. But I was attracted to fire long before that.

As kids in rural Kenner, we had plenty of opportunities to play with fire. We never missed an excuse to build a campfire in the Manard’s key lot and cook something, sometimes one of our fingers—ouch! Our parents always tried to discourage our fire building and cook outs in the key lot with a lame excuse, like the City of Kenner doesn’t allow fires.

“And? So what?” was our usual come back. What followed was about ten minutes of a half dozen kids badgering parents, who only wanted to be left alone and drink beer. “Oh, OK! But don’t come running to me with burnt fingers.”

And we had a one-match fire going within minutes. (Hint: gasoline helps.)

A favorite Boy Scout meal was foil stew. It was easy to prepare. You simply make a pouch out of some heavy duty foil (preferably) and fill it with chunks of meat, potatoes, carrots, and a little seasoning. Add just a small splash of water and seal it up real tight. (The water part became beer when we got older)

You get a good fire going and let it settle down to coals, spread those out and flop that pouch of foil-delicious on them, then add some more coals on top. Let that puppy cook for about 20 minutes and pull it off the fire.

Carefully slice the pouch open and peel back the sides to make a bowl—and dig in. I ate many a foil stew while in the Boy Scouts and with my boys on later camping or hunting trips.

Fire included fireworks, and in those days we had M-80s. If I had to guess, I would say an M-80 was close to a half a stick of dynamite! Well, it seemed like it, and was close enough you can’t get the “real” M-80s today. It is amazing we never blew fingers off, and yes, we did hold them, light-em-up and throw them, not advisable, especially with a “half-stick-o-dynamite” M-80.

Son and Margie Manard, Bobby and Melanie’s parents, had discarded a kitchen trash can. It was the kind made out of steel with a pop-up lid and a removable can insert for the garbage, also made out of heavy steel. It was in July when we had ready access to M-80s, and we decided to see how high an M-80 would propel that heavy steel, can insert. So, we got out in the middle of Sixth Street and flopped that can face down over a sizzling M-80. After which, we all ran for cover.

BOOM!!!

That can went straight up almost as high as the nearby trees were tall, forty feet or more! WOW! We gotta do that again! And we did; numerous more “agains,” until that can was all bloated looking and dented from M-80 detonations.

I was really into building plastic model airplanes, and another of my favorite uses for fireworks was to glue bottle rockets under the wings and make my plastic F-80 or P-51 fly. Trouble is, it never quite worked out like I expected. Getting the two bottle rockets, one on each wing, coordinated was something outside my skill set at eleven years old. My airplanes mostly went in circles as one rocket fired off before the other, and the in the opposite direction when the other finally lit up. Then the wings melted from the heat. That game got expensive, so I gave up.

This fascination with fire lasted even into my parenting period. I went on a father/son camping trip with my youngest son’s (Ryan) Scout troop. We stayed in the Group Camp Cabins at Fountainbleau State Park. Part of the weekend pitted the scouts against their dads in various scouting skills like first-aid, wilderness navigation, and, of course, fire building. The dads faced off against several teams of scouts on who could build a fire and get it going enough to burn through a thread stretched over the fire at eighteen inches above the ground. And we had to use flint and steel to start the fire. The scouts, not being clever like their devious dads, went the traditional route: first laid down some flammable material like dry leaves, then some kindling , then larger twigs, and finally some sticks.

In our scavenging through the woods for materials to build our fire, I discovered that dry Spanish Moss, the black stuff, burned like it was soaked in gasoline.

You know what’s coming.

With all our fires built and ready to fire up, the scouts looked questioningly at our mound of dry, black Spanish Moss, piled up high enough to almost touch the thread.

Ready, set, GO!

I struck flint to steel and FFOOOMMMPP! In a blaze of fiery glory, that thread disappeared in about three seconds flat.

We won.

Ah, the good old days. And I suddenly feel the need to fire up the Weber…

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Waveland

In this blog I have mentioned Waveland, Mississippi several times. In fact there is a whole category for “Waveland” here. It holds many memories for me and my two sisters as well as our cousins Melanie and Bobby. I stumbled upon this image on FaceBook and it inspired me to write a little about Waveland.

WavelandTrain

As I mentioned in one of my previous blog posts on Waveland, we had a house there on the north side of the tracks. MB and his friend Pete built it on weekends and summer vacations from material they salvaged from a house they tore down in New Orleans. It wasn’t anything fancy, three bedrooms, one bath and a kitchen/living room combo with a fairly large screened porch on the front. In the summer, I slept out there under the blast of a huge window fan sucking air out of the house and across me in the top bunk of the bunk bed. I LOVED sleeping there. In the winter I moved inside for obvious reasons.

We fished, and crabbed, and swam, and floundered, if you can call it that, and explored the endless woods surrounding the house. It was the greatest place in the world for a boy to grow up. I so miss Waveland. My biggest regret in life is we were never able to afford a place like Waveland to take my boys in the summer.

We kids would sometimes walk into town to do whatever it is we did in the metropolis of Waveland. The route was along the railroad tracks. One time, we took Michael Manard with us, and he was quite young. Why we did this, I don’t recall, but Melanie might, because she tells this story on occasion. But we left Michael hiding the the culvert of the railroad while the rest of us went into town. Very responsible, weren’t we?

The image of the Waveland train station reminded me of a story MB used to tell. Before the war and before he lost his “fortune” in the Depression, Martial, MB’s dad, would lodge his family in Waveland in a rented house along the beach. They would remain there all summer. It was fairly common for New Orleanians in those days, those who could afford it, to move out of the city during the hot summers (no AC back then), and places like Mandeville and Waveland were popular destinations. Waveland was an easy choice because it was so convenient to New Orleans, and I don’t necessarily mean by car; I mean by train.

During those summers, Martial would depart Waveland for New Orleans by train on Monday morning and tend to his businesses in NOLA all week long. He owned eight drug stores in New Orleans back then. On Friday, he would catch the train and get off in Waveland to rejoin his family.

MB would sware they weren’t wealthy, and I am sure, during the Depression when Martial lost most of his holdings, this was true. But before that, they lived a lifestyle that bordered on wealthy, probably upper middle-class when there weren’t a lot of people who could claim such status.

Waveland Ware

Waveland fell into disuse during the sixties and early seventies. I was either off in college and working out of town during the summers or in the Air Force. My sisters often had other interests, and MB sold Waveland in 1973 or ’74. My sisters and I briefly considered buying it. I was recently discharged and barely making a living, and Jeanne and Martia weren’t any better off financially, so we backed down, and Frank Cavalino bought it. We made one last trip to Waveland to collect our stuff before Frank moved in. I got the stainless dinnerware from there, all war surplus and marked either “U.S.” or “U.S.N.” We use it as our everyday ware today, and every time I sit down to dinner, I am reminded of Waveland.

Ice Box R

I also got the Coca Cola bottle opener off the wall. (MB was not happy I did that.) I opened many a bottle of “pop rouge,” or Seven-Up, or Nehi Sodas on that opener. It resides on the inside of the door of the antique, oak ice box I converted into a bar, and I think of Waveland every time I open that bar to get something out.

Waveland House

Image is clipped from Google Street view.

The house is still there, and a neighborhood has grown up around it. I drove past once about ten years ago. The owners have closed in the porch, and all the pine trees are gone, probably taken down by Camille and Katrina, leaving the house looking a bit forlorn. I experienced mixed emotions that day: sad because it isn’t mine or even like it was when it was mine, and happy for the memories it brought back.

I miss Waveland.

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Crusin’ down Ole Highway 90.

Returning from a week in Blue Mountain, Florida this Sunday, we were alerted to a severe traffic jam on I-10 at the Louisiana/Mississippi state line by my son, Ryan, and DIL who were over an hour ahead of us. We shifted over to US. Highway 90 at the Stennis exit to avoid some of this. Should have gotten off at the Bay St. Louis exit, because we hit the backed up traffic right after passing Bay St. Louis.

Oh well…

When I was a kid and before I-10 existed, we made many a trip to and from Waveland, MS using this route, so crusin’ down Ole Highway 90 was a trip down memory lane for me. I was reminded of those many Friday nights going east and Sunday nights returning to NOLA on that dark two-lane highway.

We always had a station wagon, which was the van or SUV of my day. It was always a nine passenger with a rear facing third seat. That was my favorite place to ride on those trips. The middle seat was folded down, and quilts were spread over the flat floor for my two little sisters to sleep on the way. They shared the space with our two dogs and sometimes a bird or that blasted rabbit mentioned elsewhere.

Seatbelts? We didn’t need no stinking seatbelts! Besides, the cars weren’t even equipped with them back then.

Did I mention luggage? No, because I can’t recall us ever carrying any. We must have had some little something somewhere, but it never took up much space. We had extras of almost everything stored in our Waveland house, so we don’t need no stinking luggage! Well, not much anyway.

No AC in the cars either, at least not in ours. Only the “very wealthy” bought cars with AC back then (1950s), and MB was too frugal for that. I can recall several times we noticed water dripping from other cars, and being ever concerned for the safety of others, we flagged them down to report the strange water dripping from under their cars. Inevitably, they would roll down their windows (because they had AC) and say, “What?”

To which we replied, “Water! You have water dripping from your car!” And we continued on, thinking we had saved the lives of some poor family that we were sure their car was close to exploding—or something.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, the dripping water was condensation from their AC!

We didn’t know any better!

One story MB told of a trip to Waveland has always stuck in my mind. He and his friend, Pete Constancy, built our house in Waveland, mostly from scraps of a house they tore down in NOLA that Pete owned. They carefully removed the window frames and sashes and stacked them on a homemade trailer. The trailer was, shall we say, a bit bouncy. They stacked the windows flat, not on edge like they should have. Stacked so, the glass could not stand the bouncing, and they arrived in Waveland with every pane broken, and Highway 90 strewn with broken glass from NOLA to Waveland.

My sisters, Jeanne and Martia, and my cousins, Melanie and Bobby, will remember the “Pama-Pama Bridge,” which I think was the one over the Chef Menteur Pass. (One of the four will comment and correct me if I am wrong.) Why was it called the “Pama Pama Bridge?” Because your car tires made “pama-pama” sounds as they passed over the expansion joints. I never knew of any other bridge that sounded quite like that.

I went over it today, and, sadly, it doesn’t go “pama-pama” anymore. Another childhood memory lost forever!

Motorcyclists have it right when they say, “It isn’t the destination, it’s the trip!” We are always in a rush to get somewhere. We need to spend more time on the Old Highway 90s of our lives and enjoy the ride.

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Jim 1 / Boo ZERO

This story takes place not in Kenner but over on the Mississippi Gulf Coast in Waveland. Waveland was such a huge part of my growing up, that I can’t tell stories about life in Kenner without mentioning it.

We had a summer home there. It wasn’t anything fancy, just a three-bedroom house with one bath, a kitchen and sort-of den, and a screened porch. My dad, MB, and his friend, Pete Constancy, built it themselves on weekends and summer vacations, mostly from materials they scrounged from a house Pete was tearing down. It wasn’t on the beach, either. It was back behind the RR tracks that run through Waveland, about 4 or 5 blocks off the beach. As you can see, I am not talking fancy summer beach home here. Such was not my father’s style. It sat on about an acre of land purchased from my uncle and aunt, Son and Margie Manard who lived in Kenner on Williams at Sixth.

Son Manard’s name was Robert L. Manard Jr. Most adults called him Son or Sonnyboy. We kids knew him as Boo, which is a term of endearment down south, especially in South Louisiana.

Boo and Margie owned ten acres as I recall. They called it “Manard’s Manor” and even had a “fancy” sign hanging over the entrance gate announcing its name. Their house wasn’t any fancier than the one my dad would eventually build, a low slung three-bedroom with a screened porch. Before our house was built, we would visit Boo and Margie at theirs for weekends and even use it for a week at a time during the summer. Often there would be a crowd of people there, mostly family, and lots of kids.

That ten acres was heaven for us kids. About a two-thirds of it was wooded and the rest mostly open with scattered pine trees. We played baseball and football in one of the fields and explored the woods, discovering all manner of animals and other interesting stuff not found back in Kenner. Those were absolutely wonderful days! Waveland was a really cool place for kids and adults.

The story I am about to tell took place one summer at Manard’s Manor around 1952. I was about 8 years old at the time. I was witness to the first part and only found out the conclusion many years later when my dad told me.

My aunt and uncle and my two cousins, Melanie and Bobby, were there. My family was also there as guests as well as a few others from the Lagasse clan for a weekend of swimming, fishing, crabbing, and fun. The kids had ten acres to play on, and the adults had lots of adult beverages cooling in a tub for when we weren’t at the beach or fishing or crabbing.

Jim and BooTwo horses resided at Manard’s Manor: Jim and Nancy. Jim was a big gray horse and very gentle. Their days were largely spent grazing on the grasses and drinking cold water from the continuously flowing artesian well on the property, a pretty easy life for a horse.

On this occasion, Boo decided he wanted to ride Jim, and when Boo got something in his head, it was hard to get it out. Normally, Jim would come right up to you, and you could pet him or feed him treats. But instead of a slice of bread or sugar lump, Boo approached him with a bridle. Jim took one look at Boo with that bridle in his hand and knew exactly what was coming, and he wanted no part of that program. Jim promptly turned and decamped with Boo in hot pursuit calling to him, first in gentle dulcet tones eventually becoming a lot louder and laced with profanity.

Jim got the message, but Boo got the lasso.

Evidently, Jim also knew what a lasso was for, because he then put even more distance between himself and that crazy man with the rope.

Boo moved closer. Jim moved back. Boo threw the lasso. Jim ducked. The rope missed. Boo got madder.

If horses can laugh, Jim was definitely laughing.

After collecting the rope, Boo went after Jim swinging that lasso over his head like some deranged cowboy.

Jim ran. Boo ran. Jim was faster.

I don’t recall how long this game of “catch Jim” lasted, but it went on for quite a while. (Did I mention that Boo didn’t give up easily?)

I do recall sitting outside the house with my cousins, taking a break from play and enjoying cold Dr. Peppers, Nehi sodas, and such, when Jim came trotting from around behind the house, trotted passed us kids, and went trotting around the other side of the house. Boo soon followed swinging that lasso over his head, but he was obviously much blown from the effort.

Eventually, Boo caught Jim. I never knew how, but I am guessing he managed to corner him and get the lasso on him.

Then came the saddle.

Boo’s saddle was a genuine, war surplus, U.S. Cavalry, McClellan saddle. It was old! George McClellan designed it around the time of the Civil War, and they had been in continuous use by the Cavalry until they traded in their horses for armored vehicles about World War II. At the time, it could have been anywhere from nearly 100 years old to maybe only 20 or so. In my opinion, McClellan saddles are not the most comfortable looking devices.

Boo got the saddle on Jim and rode that horse all the way to Clermont Harbor, which was about six miles round trip. He arrived back at Manard’s Manor, feeling much the winner in this little contest of wills, and joined the rest of the party for dinner. Jim went back to slurping cold water from the artesian well—and probably laughing.

My dad told me the next part of the story years later.

Sometime after dinner when all the adults were sitting around talking and enjoying adult beverages, Boo started squirming in his chair. He leaned over to my dad and suggested they take a walk. Many reading this will know that MB was a doctor. Boo escorted MB into one of the back bedrooms where he confessed, “MB, my butt hurts! Bad!”

Now, MB couldn’t make a proper diagnosis without an exam and calmly replied, “Drop your pants.” Boo obeyed.

This is how he described what he found, “Lane, Boo’s butt was so inflamed that it looked like it was from one of those red-assed baboons in the Audubon Zoo!”

Boo couldn’t sit down and had to sleep on his belly for a few days. Jim had gotten the last laugh. I don’t recall Boo ever riding Jim again.

Jim 1 / Boo ZERO.

The image is of Jim and Nancy with Boo and my two cousins Melanie and Bobby in Waveland. Thanks to Bobby for digging this old image up – Lane

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Kenner, Kids, and Go-Carts – Part 2

Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

I said in the post Kenner, Kids, and Go-Carts that another story would follow. Here is Part 2, the painful part.

I must have been about 14. It was a warm summer day in Kenner, and the “gang” was playing with roller skates and our go-carts, which, as it turned out, was a bad combination. The gang that day consisted of Manard Lagasse, Joey Giammalva, Bobby Manard, me, and several others I can’t recall just now. The skates were, of course, the old steel wheel versions you clamp onto your shoes. Kind of hard to do with Keds, but It can be done. You have to get the clamps tight enough the soles of your Keds are folded in half lengthways and your little toe is almost kissing your big toe.

In one of my more “brilliant” moments, I thought it would be a good idea to roller skate behind the go-cart, kind of like water skiing, albeit on a much less forgiving surface, concrete. This took place on Sixth Street between Williams and Compromise, and the concrete was the kind with lots of aggregate in it, meaning rough—very rough. Joey was elected to do the pulling with his go-cart, and I volunteered to do the skate/skiing. Seemed logical, since it was my idea. Actually, I think the others were smart enough to wait and see if I died before they tried it.

Disclaimer: Kids don’t try this at home. Dangerous stunts like this should only be attempted by professional idiots.

It began badly and ended worse.

With me holding onto the back of his seat, Joey headed down Sixth towards Compromise and soon reached maximum velocity, probably around 20mph. The rough concrete was taking its toll on my skates. With the ball bearings screaming, the steel wheels were heating up, and sparks started flying. Those steel wheels on that rough concrete were vibrating so much, I was sure the fillings in my teeth would rattle out. (OK, maybe all that was an exaggeration, but not by much!)

After about a hundred feet of roller skating terror, I decided I had enjoyed as much as I could stand and yelled for Joey to stop. Either he didn’t hear me, or he ignored me, because he didn’t stop. Louder yelling still got no response. With his head down low and leaning into the onrushing wind like some dog with his head out the window of the family sedan, Joey plowed ahead ignorant of my plight. My only option was to let go before the steel wheels melted and burned through the soles of my Keds. So, I did, just about when we hit the turn onto Compromise.

I thought (hoped) I could stay upright long enough to coast slowly to a stop. Didn’t quite work out like that. I managed to remain upright for, oh, maybe a second and a half before I crashed and burned, rolling down Compromise like a very large, wayward football. When I finally came to a stop, I figured something HAS to be broken and immediately took inventory. Feet and legs OK! Right hand and arm OK! Left hand—OH CRAP! NOT OK! BAD! VERY BAD!!

My bird finger was no longer straight but was zigzagged. The index finger wasn’t any straighter, but more significantly, it was not where it was supposed to be! It was on the side of my hand back near my thumb and pointing in a decidedly inappropriate direction—at me!

Manard, Bobby, and Joey stood there in awe, slack-jawed, eyes wide, and I am sure deciding not to try that themselves. One asked, “You hurt?”

I held up my mangled hand and let fly with a string of adult expletives.

“Yeah, he’s hurt!”

The still smoking skates immediately came off, and I headed home, which, fortunately, was only a block away. MB, my dad and doctor, was tinkering in the garage at the time I walked up and announced, “Look!”

He did. I guess his experience treating wounded in WWII had enabled him not to show emotion that might alarm the patient. His expression unchanged, he calmly asked, “How did you do that?”

I was thinking what difference does that make? Fix it!

Not waiting for an answer, with his left hand, he grabbed my wounded hand at the wrist and examined it. I suppose to avoid what would certainly have been my screaming protests, without a warning, he grabbed my dislocated finger and put it back where it belonged.

There, fixed.

I very nearly fainted!

MB decided the rest was beyond his bone setting skills and made me wait until he finished with patients in the office that night before he took me to a bone specialist to have everything set properly. I got to wear a cast for six weeks, which effectively ended my skating behind a go-cart career, not that I was disappointed at its loss. Both fingers healed fine, except I can bend them in directions that make some people a little queasy.

On the plus side, my finger now knows when the weather is about to change.

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