| We have always kept a sizable area of the yard available, for digging, throwing, and filling in. Our kids were diggers, and their kids that came after. Neices and nephews dug in our yard, and other kids joined them. Now, sadly, we find the grandkids, though they enjoyed digging and mudding, don't allow their kids the same privilege. They don't like dingy clothing, of all things! Modern thinking! |
In our family of 6 boys and 3 girls, we owned few toys. Country kids, we roamed the hills and pastures, and swam in the old swimmin' hole. If we hung close to home, we'd soon be digging and mixing mud to build various things.
Having read that adobe brick was formed of mud and straw, we decided we were sitting on a gold mine! Everywhere you looked was dirt! Straw? Well, that cussed 3 acres of Johnson grass, down in the draw, was surely good for something!
We'd build a life sized fort.. from mud bricks! We cut and hauled Johnson grass to our play area, and toted windmill water to mix the mud. We dug huge holes and made a monstrous dirt pile, for once in production, we couldn't take time to dig!
We fussed about the proper mixture, & made up a few bricks, roughly the size of cement tile blocks. Disgustingly lumpy, they were grossly formed. Not good at all, not for the grand fort we would build!
Eureka! The oldest brother would make a 'brick form' so they'd be uniform, on the order of Mama's 'butter bat'. She used one to form butter that was sold at market. It probably took a day and a half, trial and error, to build that brick form, and then we were ready to try it out.
We worked diligently, and when we formed the brick, it looked right! Alas, when we dumped it out, to let it cure, it fell to pieces. Back to the drawing board!
Good grief, we worked for nigh onto 2 weeks, perfecting the wooden form, and getting the mud/grass/water ratio just right. Finally, we laid a brick out to dry that was, in our eyes, perfect! We admired it, knowing these strong adobe brick couldn't be put in just any old fort! Hey! We could build a replica of the ALAMO!
We commenced making bricks. For several days, we worked like we were getting paid, adding to our brick supply. Finally, we had a goodly number of adobe brick, lying about, in the hot sun, curing to perfection.
Then, one morning, we got up and started out to the 'brick works' and our steps were lagging. Someone casually asked, 'Wonder if the grapes are ripe?' and just like that! We decided to take a day off and head for the grape vines, a distance of probably 4 miles, northwest.
At the end of our trek, we found there were no grapes at all. Heck! That was okay, we could just stay and play Tarzan of the Jungle! We played in the vines and trees all day, trying to rig up 'Tarzan travel'. We never mastered the grape vine swing, and often busted our keester when the vines broke. Our Tarzan yell was authentic! Ouch!
We headed home in early evening.. no bones broken.. spirits high. All we had to do was figure out how to make the vines more flexible and 'way stronger! We could do it!
Next day, we decided to take another day off from bricking, to sneak over to an adjoining ranch and ride the bulls. And so we did. We would walk along the fence row till we came to where white-faced cattle grazed near the fence, and someone would be designated 'it'.
That person had to roll under the fence and slip up close to the cattle and start 'mooing' and pawing the ground, keeping it up until the cows got mad and commenced pawing up dust. Then we inched backward toward the fence, still mooing and pawing, until the maddest bull would drop his head, and come running!
That was signal to turn tail and run like the devil and roll under the fence just ahead of the bull! The rest of the kids would be poised on the next to top barbed wire strand, ready to leap onto the first bull or cow that got close enough! We had our own rodeo, and didn't even know it!
The trick was to ride the bull till you got bucked off, then race to the fence, & roll under, ahead of him! I'd drop dead if I ever saw one of my kids doing that, but we thought nothing of it, and never let our parents know.
Anyway, what with one thing and another, something kept interfering with the brick works, and we never got back to building the fort. The bricks dried out, and most stayed whole, and we just let them lay, in hot west Texas sun. Finally, Dad told us if we were finished with 'Fort Pipedream', we should chunk the adobe brick in the bottom of that pit, shovel the dirt back in, and smoothe out the ground.
We sat and looked at the brick a good while.. sighed, and commenced throwing them into the hole. Our hearts were heavy, for we were sure if Daddy hadn't given us a deadline, we'd surely have created a life size replica of the Alamo. (Did I mention we had never actually SEEN the Alamo, nor had any idea of its size?)
Life was good, way back then, and fun was there for the making. Big dreams, of short duration.. a part of our days, and nobody shamed us if we switched horses in the middle of the stream. Wish every kid could live out just one day of my childhood.
Yeah, I was a poor kid who probably had the greatest childhood, ever!
Jb, from TX, entered 2004-05-27