If Adventure Has a Name…

Photo credits: Old Chum and The Life of Animals 

My Real Memoir

I was born for adventure. I know that sounds a tad over-the-top, and maybe it was just my age. But from early on all of my favorite stories were adventures: The Three Musketeers, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Call of the Wild, and best of all, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn! Thanks to movie adaptations and kid’s literary versions, we developed an insatiable desire to actually be Tom and Huck!

Our houses were boring–ranch-style tract homes suitable only for eating, sleeping and watching I Dream of Genie. So we virtually lived outside. And “outside” mostly meant the huge field across the street.

On The Field’s highest hill was Our Treehouse. Jeff and Rory and I regularly upgraded it. But other kids, mistakenly thinking it was Their Treehouse, kept altering it. So we’d look for exotic animals (rabbits, coyotes, field mice), and even catch some! We regularly brought home pollywogs and crawdads from nearby La Mirada Creek. We’d set the pollywogs free once they turned into toads. Our cats tended to eat our “pet” crawdads.

I also loved capturing trapdoor spiders! This was accomplished in five steps:

  1. Look for a telltale half-circle “door” hinged with spider’s silk
  2. “Knock” lightly and wait till its occupant threw it open, and then, finding no lunch, disgruntledly went back inside
  3. Dig down around its hobbity little tunnel with a spade
  4. Lift the captured section out and put it in a jar
  5. And then share it at school! The whole class would capture bugs, put them on the spider’s door and wait for it to attack! My teachers, um, loved it.

But the “Shingle Wars” were my favorite activity! Kids from all over the neighborhood would climb up onto the rooftops of The Field’s two precariously-leaning shacks, left over from the days when seasonal flower-pickers lived there. We’d pull up chunks of asphalt-shingle roofing and “sail” them at the kids on the other rooftop! For weeks, we came home happy as Viking warriors—and nearly as cut and bruised! Until a quickly-formed parents’ committee made the city tear down the shacks. Rats! No more shouting, “Today the shack, tomorrow Valhalla!”

Hey, you know, come to think of it…

We really were Tom and Huck!

My Real Memoir is a series. To read the next one, click here.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in Humor, Memoir and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to If Adventure Has a Name…

  1. rwfrohlich says:

    I regret that we have lost the notion that children should be “free range kids”, allowed to wander and explore. Coddled, sheltered, tethered, and over scheduled kids will never grow up into confident, self sufficient, and inventive adults.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Reminds me a little of my own simple childhood pleasures as well as those of Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird, which I’m enjoying a re-read of.

    Liked by 2 people

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  4. Krista says:

    I was Becky 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. revruss1220 says:

    What a fantastic and adventure-filled childhood, although I could probably do without the trap-door spiders.

    The shingle war adventure reminds me of the BB gun fights my friends and I used to have. How in the world did we survive?

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I was a play-outside-all-day kid, too!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ray Stiles says:

    Mitch, I just went Surfin’ USA with the Beach Boys at the Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach pier, ;^)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. We went out for the day armed with sandwiches and lemonade, messed around in streams,swung from trees, came home grubby and tired out. Our parents knew the other kids’ parents, we all knew what to do about strangers…it was a safe and happy world.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. When I was a kid we often played in a field of Timothy grass behind the playground. A big ant hill protruded in the middle of the field like a sun-dried pimple, and we would gather around it watching those ants busily do their work. One time we caught a grasshopper and dropped it to the ants. It was a stunning moment watching those ants swarm it.

    Liked by 1 person

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