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Visiting Grandmother’s House Part~2

17 Jul

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

Bill

My cousins and I thought it was great fun playing on the hay bales stacked in the barn and shucking corn for the cows and horses.  Sometimes we were allowed to let1 the cows out to pasture in the mornings and round them up back to the barn for milking in the evenings.  I even tried my hand at milking, but never really got the hang of the technique.

I remember an occasion when one of my uncles found a four-foot corn snake in the chicken coop eating the eggs out of the nests.  The custom was to put white glass eggs in the nests to encourage the hens to lay, and you could see 2where the snake had swallowed a couple of the glass eggs, making bulges along its length.  My uncle grabbed the snake by the tail, swinging it around over his head like a bullwhip, and then snapping its head off in a motion like cracking a whip.  Yuk, what a mess!  Egg yolk went everywhere. Then, after the snake finally stopped squirming, he retrieved the glass eggs and washed them off to use again.

Back then, many of my uncles and some of my cousins chewed tobacco, and of course I was “encouraged” by some of the kids my age to try it.  I didn’t have too much trouble with it until one day when I tried chewing and swimming at the same3 time.  We were having a ball in my uncle’s pond when I swallowed a mouthful of water and my chaw of tobacco.  Later that evening, my mother kept wondering why I felt sick to my stomach.

Another sport we engaged in was the building and shooting of “Firecracker Rifles”.  We would notch a short piece of 2”x 4” for our rifle stock (it really didn’t look anything like a rifle stock), and then attach a 2’ or 3’ length of ½“ pipe to the notch by bending nails over the pipe.   Red M-80 firecrackers fit nicely into the pipe, and had strong fuses that wouldn’t go out inside the pipe.  We would use marbles that would just fit the “barrel” of our homemade rifle.  And, there you have it.

5Amazingly, if everything was fit together tightly, and your aim was any good, this homemade rifle could put a marble through both sides of a 1-gallon can at short range!  Pretty scary when you think about 7-10 year olds doing something like that.  Of course, our parents had no idea we were playing with anything this dangerous, or we would have been in BIG trouble.

We also used those same M-80 firecrackers in contests to see who could blow a tin can the highest, and because they were waterproof, we would use them to blast crayfish out of their holes.  As you read this, I can just hear you saying, “Oh, boys will be boys!”  Yea, but it would surely have given my mother a heart attack if she had known what we were up to.

Well, those are just a few wonderful things I remember my cousins and me doing  during those family trips to my grandmother’s house in Louisiana when I was a kid.  Of course, some of those experiences may have had a profound influence on me as I grew up; because I ended up working with explosives for most of the 35 years I spent as part of  the U.S. Manned Space Program community.  But, then that’s another story for another time.

Grandmother Lites at age 90

Grandmother Lites at age 90

—–The End—–

                                  

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