My Front Door

My new home was on a red clay road about 120 feet from my front door. The rest of the roads were paved this was the only dirt road in the little town. For some reason residential development was not yet  completed on the road which ran around both sides the Bayou for several miles and then across a concrete bridge and around the far side of a connecting bayou. Waterfront property was the last to be built out. I suppose that is how we could afford the modest little flat top house we built. Being on a dirt road in the summer time was never a problem for me; it meant I could go barefoot without burning blisters on the scorching summer asphalt.


There was a swamp between the dirt road and the Bayou. The swamp did not know it would soon be transformed into a small park with boat ramps, picnic tables fishing docks and a dredged up beach. The swamp was full of swamp life. It had snakes, owls, toads, raccoons, opossums, squirrels assorted bird life. It was a Mecca of escape for an 8 year old boy who could go on safaris of varying lengths armed with weapons of self protection. There were no roads in the park yet because it was a swamp so everything was on foot. So I could pretty much shoot at anything that was there, animate or inanimate without fear of adult intervention. I was in effect a Tarzan without predators, top of the food chain. It was my hundred acre woods.  There were moccasins which I foolishly delighted in agitating, but taught me valuable lessons. It was the ultimate learning lab-. in the days when phones had dials and a long cord was a real value add. The houses had TV antennas. The cars had big grills and fins and the boats were still largely wooden-in those days having a jungle across the street was pretty cool. And it progressed to civilization at the same pace I did.  Each year we improved a bit.



I use the collective as the city had a modest development budget for the park so did not discourage those boys who wanted to help with axes, saws and animal eradication. I quickly discovered that I was no killer; coming close to a moving target with a BB gun was about as ruthless as I got, except for the Lions and Tigers and Bears that magically appeared and disappeared proportionate with my allocation of BB’s. But I did learn how to properly take down a large tree, how to build a dam, how to harvest oysters and catch crabs and how to swim.


In 5 years time the swamp became a nice little park. The oyster shells were transferred to the roads and crushed to provide a “surfaced” two lane linkage to the clay road. The crabs were largely depopulated, as were the other varmints that needed habitat to raise their breeds. New critters that were infinitely more interesting anyway began to come and stick their toes into the water in April, and the rest in May and throughout the summer. I became a legal lifeguard at age 16 having apprenticed for several years. There is something almost biblical about being a life guard. First you got to sit in the highest chair in the park. And all the girls came to you with their curiosity about your knowledge and life guarding skills. They wanna know if you could really save their lives in the event of a natural disaster or a cramp. You got paid to get tanned (instead of going to a salon) and you were required to look at girls. Damn, it was the perfect job and only a 2 minute walk from my front door. I was still Tarzan. It was ok to play the transistor so I was up on all the songs and all the DJ’s. This made me a hit with some of the girls and led me to my second job which was 5 minutes from my front door in the 2nd floor studio of the town’s lone radio station.


Later in life I would tell my children bedtime stories that were centered around the days events. This was a skill I learned on talk radio before it became a conservative haven. I learned it at the little radio station on Saturday Morning Teen Talk. We would play music that the owner provided and answer the phone calls and talk to teens. We talked about whatever they called about so it really honed my conversational skills.  


Then I got my driver license, the road got paved, and I and my universe expanded beyond my front door exponentially.


2 Responses

  1. > It had snakes, owls, toads, raccoons, opossums, squirrels assorted bird life.

    Except for the birds, all those others make a city slicker like me quiver!

    I had a scope on my BB gun and was the exterminator of geckos. Didn’t know then they ate mosquitos….

    And were these teens you talked with on Saturdays guys or girls, or both? I suspect most were girls. You probably have some stories about that too…

    Enquiring minds want to know…! 😉

  2. Being a city slicker myself, my only means of torturing defensless critters were with a magnifying glass.

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