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TALL TALES

 

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MY HIDEOUT

 

 

 

DURING THE SUMMER OF 1945 WHEN I WAS THIRTEEN YEARS OLD I WAS HAVING A BAD TIME.  I HAD JUST LEFT THE TWELFTH YEAR OF MY LIFE WHERE I WAS AT THE TOP OF THE FOOD CHAIN OF CHILDREN AND ENTER THE BOTTOM OF THE TEEN GROUP.  I HAD JUST FINISHED JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL AND WOULD BE STARTING HIGH SCHOOL.  IN SHORT I WAS BETWIXT AND BETWEEN.

 

I LIVED IN THE CITIES SERVICE OIL COMPANY CAMP IN EAST TEXAS.  THERE WERE ABOUT THIRTY FAMILIES LIVING IN THE CAMP AND THERE WERE ABOUT FIFTY KIDS.  THEY RANGED IN AGE ANY WHERE FROM BABIES TO EIGHTEEN-YEAR OLDS.

 

THE FAMILIES WERE SEGREGATED BY RANK OF JOB LEVEL.  THE SUPERINTENDENT AND THE FOREMEN LIVED IN COMPANY OWNED HOUSES ALONG THE HIGHWAY NEXT TO THE OFFICES.  NEXT WERE THE FAMILIES OF THE OFFICE WORKERS AND MEN THAT HAD JOBS OF RESPONSIBILITY.  THEY OWNED THEIR HOMES AND THESE HOMES WERE SET OFF TO ONE SIDE AWAY FROM THE REST OF THE HOUSES. 

 

THEN THERE WAS THE BIG PIPE YARD AND BESIDE THAT WAS AN EQUIPMENT STORAGE AREA.  UP THE HILL FROM THERE WAS ANOTHER BUNCH OF HOUSES.  THESE HOUSES WERE NOT AS LARGE AS THE OTHER HOUSES.  THIS IS WHERE THE HOURLY WORKERS LIVED.

 

AS THE FAMILIES WERE SEGREGATED THE KIDS OF THE FAMILIES WERE ALSO.  I LIVED UP ON THE HILL IN ONE OF THOSE HOUSES AND THE KIDS I PLAYED WITH WERE THE KIDS FROM THIS AREA. THERE WERE TWELVE OF THEM FROM THE AGE OF TWELVE AND DOWN AND SIX OF US FROM THE AGE OF THIRTEEN UP.

 

I WAS THE ONLY THIRTEEN YEAR OLD SO I WAS ON THE BOTTOM OF THE TOTEM POLE AND AFTER BEING ON THE TOP OR NEAR THE TOP FOR SEVERAL YEARS IT WAS A REAL BLOW TO MY SELF ESTEEM TO HAVE TO START OVER.  I BECAME MORE OF A LONER THEN EVER.

 

ONE DAY I WAS WANDERING AROUND WHERE THE COMPANY HAD STORED LOTS OF EQUIPMENT AND I SAW THE TOP SIX FEET OF A 500 BARREL OIL STORAGE TANK SETTING ON THE GROUND.  I CLIMBED UP ON IT AND THERE WAS A THREE-FOOT DIAMETER INSPECTION HOLE IN THE TOP.  I DROPPED DOWN INTO THE TANK THROUGH THIS HOLE AND LOOKED AROUND.  THATíS WHEN I REALIZED THE TANK HAD NEVER BEEN USED.  IT WAS CLEAN ON THE INSIDE.

 

BOY, I THOUGHT, THIS WOULD MAKE A GOOD HIDEOUT.  SO I SET OUT TO FURNISH MY HIDEOUT.  I FOUND A STACK OF 1X6 BOARDS TEN FEET LONG NEAR BY AND PUT ENOUGH OF THEM THROUGH THE HOLE IN THE TOP OF THE TANK TO MAKE A FLOOR FOR MY HIDEOUT.  THEN I WENT TO THE CAMP TRASH DUMP AND FOUND AN OLD CHAIR.  I COULDNíT CARRY THIS CHAIR SO I WENT HOME AND GOT MY OLD WAGON AND USED IT TO TAKE THE CHAIR TO MY HIDEOUT.  BY THAT TIME I HAD TO GO HOME FOR SUPPER.

 

THE NEXT MORNING FIRST THING AFTER BREAKFAST I WAS BACK AT THE DUMP WITH MY WAGON.  I FOUND FOUR WOODEN APPLE BOXES AND A LAMP TABLE THAT HAD ONE LEG BROKEN OFF.  THESE I HAULED TO THE TANK AND PUT THEM DOWN THE HOLE. 

 

I WAS GETTING TIRED OF HAVING TO PULL MYSELF UP BY THE EDGE OF THE HOLE TO GET OUT OF THE TANK EACH TIME I DROPPED IN SO I SCOUTED UP SOME LARGE WOODEN BLOCKS AND MADE A SET OF STEPS SO I COULD WALK UP ON THEM AND BE WITHIN THREE FEET OF THE TOP.  I COULD STAND ON THEM AND HALF MY BODY WOULD BE OUT OF THE TANK.

 

THE APPLE BOXES I SET UP ON THEIR END AND THEY MADE DANDY SELVES, I PUT A WOODEN BLOCK UNDER THE TABLE WHERE THE LEG WAS BROKEN OFF AND IT WORKED JUST FINE.

 

I WENT HOME AND GOT MY SCOUT PACK WITH MY CANTEEN AND COOKING KIT IN IT.  I PUT IN SOME CANDLES I FOUND IN THE KITCHEN CABINET AND A COUPLE CANS OF CAMPBELLS TOMATO SOUP.  THEN I TOOK TWO APPLES AND AN ORANGE FROM THE BOWL ON THE KITCHEN TABLE AND PUT THEM IN MY PACK.

 

NEXT I WENT IN MY ROOM AND GOT A STACK OF MY FAVORITE FUNNY BOOKS AND INTO THE PACK THEY WENT.

NOW IíM READY I THOUGHT.  OPPS! ONE MORE THING I REMEMBERED.  THE LITTLE STERNO STOVE MY UNCLE HAD BROUGHT ME WHEN HE CAME BACK FROM THE WAR.

 

OUT THE DOOR I WENT TELLING MY MOM I WOULDNíT BE BACK FOR LUNCH.  I WAS GOING DAY CAMPING. 

 

ďOKĒ SHE SAID, ďJUST BE BACK IN TIME FOR SUPPER.Ē  

 

OFF I WENT FOR MY HIDEOUT.  I WAS CAREFUL EACH TIME I WENT TO THE TANK TO MAKE SURE THERE WAS NO ONE AROUND TO SEE ME.

 

I UNPACKED THE ITEMS IN MY SCOUT PACK AND PUT THEM ON MY APPLE BOX SHELVES.  THEN I CURLED UP ON MY RAGGED QUEEN ANN CHAIR AND READ ONE OF MY SUPERMAN FUNNY BOOKS.

 

BY THIS TIME IT WAS TIME FOR LUNCH.  SO I GOT OUT MY STERNO STOVE AND MY BOY SCOUT COOKING KIT.  I OPENED A CAN OF CAMPBELLS TOMATO SOUP AND HEATED IT ON MY LITTLE STOVE.  I HAD TOMATO SOUP AND AN APPLE FOR LUNCH.

 

WHAT TO DO NEXT? WELL A LITTLE SIESTA SOUNDED GOOD, BUT LYING DOWN ON THOSE BOARDS DIDNíT.  SO I POPPED UP OUT OF MY HIDE OUT AND RAN HOME TO GET THE TWO OLD BLANKETS MOM HAD GIVEN ME FOR A BED ROLL WHEN OUR SCOUT TROUP WENT CAMPING.

 

AFTER MY NAP I ATE THE OTHER APPLE AND MADE PLANS TO LAY IN MORE GROCERIES.  I KNEW I COULD GET AWAY WITH A CAN OF BEANS AND MAYBE A CAN OF PEACHES FROM MOMíS CABINET.  ALSO THREE OR FOUR POTATOES AND ALL THE ONIONS I WANTED.  WHICH WOULDNíT BE MANY.

 

SO FOR THE NEXT FEW DAYS I KEPT BRINGING SUPPLIES TO MY HIDE OUT.  I ALSO FOUND AN OLD DINING TABLE CHAIR THAT I BROUGHT IN.  MY LITTLE NEST KEPT GROWING AND GETTING MORE COMFORTABLE EACH DAY.

 

THEN ONE DAY MOM SAID WE WERE GOING TO SEE HER FOLKS AND WOULD BE GONE FOR A WEEK.  I TRIED TO GET HER TO LET ME STAY HOME WITH DAD BUT SHE SAID NO.  SO OFF WE WENT FOR KILGORE AND A WHOLE WEEK AWAY FROM MY HIDEOUT.

 

THE DAY WE CAME HOME I MADE SOME KIND OF EXCUSE AND TOOK OFF FOR MY HIDEOUT.  WHEN I GOT THERE ALL I SAW WAS Ö NOTHING.  THE TANK TOP WAS GONE, ALL MY FURNITURE WAS GONE.  ALL MY SCOUTING EQUIPMENT WAS GONE.  EVEN THE LUMBER I HAD USED FOR A FLOOR WAS GONE.  ALL THERE WAS, WAS A ROUND SPOT OF DIRT WITH NO WEEDS WHERE THE TANK TOP HAD BEEN.

 

I STOOD THERE STARING AT THAT BARE SPOT FOR A LONG TIME.  THEN I TURNED AROUND AND WALKED BACK TO THE HOUSE.  I SPENT THE REST OF THE DAY IN MY ROOM LYING ON MY BED.  MOM CAME IN ONE TIME AND ASKED ME IF I WAS SICK?  I TOLD HER I WAS JUST TIRED AND WANTED TO REST FOR A WHILE.

 

BUT AS I LAY THERE I WAS THINKING ABOUT WHERE I COULD BUILD ANOTHER HIDEOUT.  THEN IT CAME TO ME.  BUT THATíS A WHOLE NOTHER STORY FOR A DIFFERENT TIME.

 

 

 

    BY LOREN MOORE

COPYRIGHT 2003

                                                                              

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