Tuesday, June 28, 2005

A Stupid Stunt I Did When I Was Young

In a previous post, I mentioned a stunt that I did "when I was stupider and younger". Well, here's the story..

When four boys were added to the family in the space of four years, our home began to be crowded, and when Dad added an extension to the kitchen, he also added a staircase up to the attic that would later become a dormitory for us boys. Until then, this stairway that went nowhere except the beginnings of a bathroom became one more place where we could play.

One day we came into the possession of a cardboard box, about the size that would hold a TV set, but of course it didn't, because TV's weren't invented yet. Well, it was big enough to hold two small boys if they squeezed together. And with a little imagination it could entertain us boys until it was finally destroyed. Or perhaps until one of us was destroyed.

It wasn't big enough to be an imaginary house; just big enough for one or two to sit in, but it didn't go anywhere -- it needed some kind of locomotion. My inventive mind soon found a solution to that problem. All that was needed was to carry the box to the top of the stairs; then one of us would get in, and the others would push it off the landing and down the stairs.

It would be fun, and we would take turns, I explained to my younger brothers. But none of them wanted to go first. (Maybe they were smarter?) I offered to ride with one of them the first time, but still no takers. The sissies wanted to watch how the first ride went first. So I got in, to show them what a thrill it would be.

The stairs went all the way from the attic level to the kitchen level in one flight -- no intermediate landing. At the bottom, you could turn left to go toward the basement or the back yard, or turn right into the kitchen. Straight ahead was a wall, and on the other side of that was the driveway.

"I'm ready", I announced, and they pushed. The box inched forward, remaining level for a while, then tilted downward, and in a instant I zipped down the stairs. As I reached the bottom, the box levelled out again for an instant, and then I crashed into the wall in front of me.

I had no idea how quickly I would descend the stairs, but I found out quickly, and it was too late to change my mind. I instinctively put my arms out in front of me as I hit the wall, and as soon as I saw the body-sized crater in front of me, I knew that I was in BIG trouble.

Walls were made of plaster on lath in those days, not gypsum board. Fortunately, I had hit the wall between studs, else I could have broken some bones. I had pushed the plaster and lath in until it struck the outer, shingled layer of the wall. For a moment, I stared at the crater in front of me and wondered what would have happened if I had hit the wall hard enough to go completely through it. I would have dropped onto the driveway outside.

When Mom came to investigate the loud thud that she heard, she was clearly more relieved to find me alive and well than angry with me. But she sternly warned me that I would get my punishment when Dad got home, so the rest of the day I was in a very sober mood. Dad was not the kind to spare the rod.

What could I do? I would repair the damage to the wall, but I had no idea how to do that. I knew Dad would be glad to know that I was OK (even though he might not show it), but I'd probably get a licking anyway. Maybe I could plead for sympathy. When Dad got home, I said I now realized that I could have killed myself, I learned my lesson, and I would never think of doing that again. And, to my surprise, I didn't get a spanking. Just a complaint about needing to fix the wall.


Susan said...

I've heard this story a million times, but it sounds different, better, in writing than it does orally. Good job!

JC said...

Thanks, Susan. You have great blog, yourself.