Neighborhood Fruits #5…”{{{{{ CHIGGERS ! }}}}}”…

Growin’ up on 4th Ave South & 72nd St was a blessin’. Right across the alley from our back yard was a wooded area that went up to 6th Ave. 1 & 1/2 blocks deep & ran in length from 69th Street up to just past 74th street. For those of us that weren’t scared of playin’ in “The Wood’s” it was one hell-of-a-playground. At one end there were rock bluffs & some ole caves hidden among the woods. At the other end there was a section referred to as “The Kudzu Patch”. This was about two blocks deep & 1 & 1/2 blocks wide where Kudzu Vines grew wild and covered anything in it’s path. As children growin’ up we could imagine many places in our minds where we were & what we were playin’. Such as the Kudzu Patch allowed us obstacle courses to ride our bicycles/bikes thru testin’ our manhood. To play Cowboys & Indians in & accidentally set’em on fire with “Flamin’ Arrows”! Cavemen & Dinosaurs at the bluffs & caves. Sherwood Forest to play Robin Hood in. Or like a jungle & play Tarzan in. Only your imagination was your only limit. Younger kids learned from older kids as how to build. We built all different kinds & styles of “Tree Houses” to occupy our time, minds, skills, & talents. Many were as simple a single triangle platform & some were multi-level enclosed structures. Some even had smaller trees cut to length to span from one structure to another, nailed from tree to tree to walk,slide your feet on & one @ chest level to hold onto/balance on as we moved about above ground in the trees. There were large vines growing among the trees we could cut at ground level and swing from. Our parent always told us to keep an eye out for Snakes. But as for me I never saw a Rattle Snake Or a Copperhead. Saw & caught many other species though. Also scattered among all of these areas were wild Blackberries. Big patches of Blackberries. Most of us loved to pick’em & eat’em. Some of us would pick enough to take home for pies, cobblers, & jellies to be made at home. & my Mama was one of the best at it I must say. The bad part about the Blackberries was a type of insect/bug that lived among’em. {{{{{ CHIGGERS ! }}}}}…(“The best known of the Trombiculidae are the chiggers”.) and those damn things got all over ya just bittin’. They were worse than Mosquitoes Bites. And they really liked to get down in the creases & folds of your body & just burrow in. Damn did those bites itch! Don’t ever let anyone throw you in a blackberry patch, cause you will regret it! We did learn, in time, to wear long pants & sleeves when we went Blackberry Pickin’. They were life savers. But HOT to wear…”Hold’em Hook”!…..BG>

Advertisements

Neighborhood Fruits #3…”{{{ Shew-wee ! }}}”…

Growin’ up on 4th Ave South, from a young boy’s view, we were blessed to have so many different types of Fruits & Nuts growin’ around us. No, I mean The REAL Kind! Usually in other folks yards. But the good part of bein’ a young child was we rarely recognized property lines! Now if there was a Fence there, well ya just looked around, to make sure no one was lookin’. Then climbed it! Across the street from our house were two houses/yards with Big Ole Plum Trees in’em. One was “Child Friendly” & the other wasn’t. The “Child Friendly” yard had seven (7) kids in it’s family. The other yard was owned by a “Crotchety Old Woman” who wasn’t “Child Friendly”. Now to many of us this Crotchety Ole Lady’s Plumb Trees became Targets! The first ones to be pillaged when the plums came into season. And we all knew she couldn’t get out there, in time, to us to catch us but we still “Scattered Like Rats” when we heard her {{{{{ SCREECHIN’ }}}}} voice as she’d yell “Who’s that out there in my plum tree”? AS if she thought we’d yell back our names! Ahh-hahaha…Hey, we were “young & dumb – but we weren’t STUPID”! But we still hit the ground a runnin’ & climbin’ fences as fast as we could. Yeah, this went on year after year. Now the family next door, with seven (7) kids, had a big plum tree as well. We were allowed to gather the ones off of the ground first, as we dodged the Bees & Ants for possession, & yeah every now & then {{{{{ Yeeeow ! }}}}} someone would get stung! I think that was a plan to see who wanted’em the most cause as the Bees started flyin’ some in the crowd would back off to a safe distance.   Then we were allowed to climb the tree & eat pretty much as much as we wanted. Then you’d hear a meek “hey man toss me a couple”! Yeah, like that was gonna happen. But then again, on occasion, someone, I would’t know who, would rear back & let one fly! {{{{{ WHACK ! }}}}}…then the threats would start about what was gonna happen when the thrower came down! After awhile, just short time later & it was kind of funny, because you’d catch someone hit the ground on the fly, I mean “a full-bore run for their life”! Their stomach would start grumblin’ or crampin’ & they were “on the fly” tryin’ to find a toilet? Bein’ young we never made that connection. But it seemed to happen no matter what fruit we were over indulgin’ in. Yeah you know what I mean. Some would make it & {{{ Shew-wee ! }}} some wouldn’t! It’s kinda funny lookin’ back on it now. The lesson here was “Moderation”. We all learned it too late in life..”Hold’em Hook”…..BG>

Neighborhood Fruits #2…”punishment for the target”…

As I’ve mentioned before, growin’ up at my Grandparents house we had a Big Fig Tree in the upper left corner of the back yard near the alley. The same one I ran home thru that time I stole a Baby Chicken/a Bitty & was bein’ chased by the Mama Hen & Daddy Rooster. That’s in an earlier story. Now I never liked eatin’ figs! I just couldn’t seem to develop a taste for’em. But I damn sure liked to throw’em at people! To me figs had three (3) phases of life & use. Phase #1) from the time they first began to appear on the tree as a small hard bulbous lookin’ thing. Phase #2) right on thru the ripe stage. Then phase #3) the rottin’ stage as they were layin’ around on the ground after they had fallen off of the tree. Now, in our neighborhood, some of us were always lookin’ for someone to throw a fig at. And NO! I wasn’t the only one. But I did have a good arm for “Fig Throwin’ “. In phase #1) when you picked ’em they would ooze a white sticky/milky lookin’ thick fluid from the end of the stem. Now to hit someone with a lot of the thick fluid on it could cause a chain reaction type of effect. Not only was it all runny & sticky everything that it came into contact with seemed to stick to it & what ever IT was stuck good. So there was usually a hand full of dirt or grass clippin’s available & would do fine. Sort of on a Run-by second attack (related to Drive-by but on foot). The grass clippin’s always mad’em itch a lot. Phase #2) were soft & mushy yet still had enough to sting as they hit the target of choice. And bein’ a fruit it had a certain natural sticky sweetness to it that it caused the target to begain to be attacked by bitin’ flies & stingin’ bees. These usually caused a lot of swattin’, rollin on the ground, the grass would then get stuck to’em, & hollerin’ bout what their goin’ to do when they caught ya. Then the occasional scream when a bee stung’em! Phase #3) they had usually begun to have a bad rotten odor to’em, still sticky, & if they had  been on the ground long enough they’d have a few ants on’em. Just a little more punishment for the target, ya know. Hey, it beat havin’ rock fights! But we had plenty of those as well, but that’s another story for another day…”Hold’em Hook”!…..BG>

Neighborhood Fruits #1…”the grapes were ripe”…

Sittin’ around yesterday mornin’ my Bride & I were chattin’ about things that we wanted to do around the house. Then the conversation turned to “fresh foods & fruits” & how they fit into our diets. Who knows? At the same time I noticed somethin’ on the TV that sent my mind to wanderin’ again. Of course it really doesn’t take a lot to do that anyway. It took me back to the neighborhood I grew up in. We (my Mother, Brother, & I) lived with my Grandparents. Up in our back yard there was a huge fig tree on one side & on the other side a very large grape arbor that had two (2) vines growin’ over it. One from each end that Papa had planted many years ago & carefully tended it regularly. The grapes especially! I watched that Old Man, more times than I could count, as we’d be sittin’ on the little back porch, shoot birds out of that grape arbor with a home made Sling Shot! At 30 yards away & slightly up hill he could hit birds as they would land in there to “rob his grapes”. “Boy, get me my Sling & my bag of marbles from the house” he’d say. “Yes sir” I’d reply as I scurried to fetch’em for him. Upon my {{{ quick ! }}} return he’d look over his sling, to make sure all was good with it, reach down in his bag of little, light green crystal clear glass, marbles. He’d load one in the pocket of the sling, draw it back, & with a quick flick of his wrist, release it, & {{{ Whack ! }}}. Out of the arbor would fall a bird floppin’ around. Papa never seemed to miss! Then as out of nowhere at least one, usually more, cats would appear & pounce on that “Thievin’ Bird”. Then before I knew it {{{Whack ! }}} there would be a second bird on the ground, floppin’ around. And yes, more cats arrivin’. It was as though they could hear Papa diggin’ around in his marble sack & they’d come a runnin’. Feathers & Fur would fly, as always, then there was always a proud cat prancin’ off with a bird in its mouth while the others were still fightin’ over the second bird. I don’t know why, but it seems to my recollection, they always fell in pairs. The other birds would escape durin’ all of the fuss over their two fallen comrades. Sooner or later they would return & the process would repeat it’s self. But I must admit, my Grandmother/Mama sure turned those ole Concord Grapes into some wonderful “Homemade Grape Jelly”! When the grapes were ripe Mama would tell us, my brother & I, to go pick a couple large baskets for her. While we were pickin’ I remember we would first grab us each a couple of bunches & sneak off & eat’em first then get Mama hers. How sweet they were too!…”Hold’em Hook”!…..BG>

…”the Season & Temps a changin’ “…

It’s that time of year & was a perfect afternoon for it. “Ole Chrome & Blue” & I took a stroll down to the pier. I saw some Shad disturbin’ the surface, made that 1st cast, & “Hold’em Hook”! Ended up catchin’ off of my pier then wandered over to my neighbors pier. We chatted & I was castin’. Caught three & two others got off. All “Spots” in 2 feet or less of water. All were “Bookends” but I’d proudly have take’em to the Scales. Heck even saw a flock of Pelicans fly over! Lookin’ forward to the Season & Temps a changin’…”Hold’em Hook”!…..BG>

…””HAPPY FATHERS DAY”…

Out on The Deck 5-26-16Today is “Fathers Day”! To all of you FATHERS “HAPPY FATHERS DAY”! To both of my Fathers, Charles W. Gray (1953 R.I.P.) & my Step-Father Claude C. McGraw (2002 R.I.P.), I thank them for, both, the rolls they played in my life. My Father (Charles) passed away, in an accident, when I was only 20 months old. I really never knew him. I would also like to thank all of those “Neighbor Hood Fathers” who shared their time & leadership with me in my early years. To THEIR children thank you for sharing them with me, it meant more than you’ll ever know. To those of you who have lost your Fathers cherish your time & memories with them. To those of you who are lucky enough to still have your Fathers make sure you recognize them today. The day will come when you’ll wish you had. If you can’t be with them today CALL them, it’ll mean an awful lot. Folks of my age & older care NOTHING about getting a TEXT. DON”T DO IT!. Those are for you younger folks. As for Me, I’m blessed to have my Children & Grandchildren with me…”Hold’em Hook”…..BG>

…”so I trudged back up”…

20150613_125051_resizedToday has really been a laid back Sunday afternoon. After lunch my Bride decided she wanted to watch “My Show! My Show”! So that meant I was banished to The Cave. Yeah, “it’s a hard life but somebody’s gotta do it”. It might as well be Me! After bein’ down there a short time I decided to lumber down to the water & just check things out. I was sittin’ in the swing on the pier just relaxin’ & soakin’ the peace & quiet in. There were just a few boats out on the lake in our area. I heard my (favorite) neighbors walkin’ down to their pier. I throw up a friendly wave & they returned it with one. They got in the water on some floatin’ chairs & enjoyin’ the same peace & quiet. The sun moved behind some clouds, a slight breeze picked up, & the motion of the swing got my attention. I shuffled over to the pontoon boat, dug out a Life Jacket, shuffled back to the swing, folded the Life Jacket in the proper pillow shape, got the swing goin’ like I wanted it, laid down & got TOTALLY RELAXED! Thirty (30) minutes later I wake up with a light rain blowin’ in on my face. What a way to ruin a good nap! Oh well, so I trudged back up to The Cave & here I am! Hope y’all have as good of an afternoon as I have had…”Hold’em Hook”…..BG>