Burning Fences

I had a friend named Steve. He could run a little faster than I and he had a bit more stamina for a slightly longer race. We used to race in the mornings before school started; when we were in kindergarten.

Those were also the years of the nascent skateboard. We made our skateboards out of pieces of wood, taking apart a roller skate and nailing the skate parts to the board. These were highly unstable. Hit a pebble and over you’d go. By Steve’s house was a hill. We called it Whiskey Hill, although I’m not sure why. It was steep but straight as an arrow. All of us had our shares of scrapes and bruises. Occasionally someone might break a bone but this didn’t occur very frequently. Steve was unlucky. He hit a pebble and went straight over the top of the board landing on his arms. Both arms broke and he spent several weeks in casts. We all felt sorry for him but, you know, that was the price for having that much fun. None of us stopped skateboarding beyond the normal mourning period.

Steve and I played together a few times. One time stands out more prominently than others. The house next to Steve’s had a beautiful white picket fence. However, there were tall weeds that obscured the beauty of it. One day Steve and I decided to help out. With a match we started a fire in the weeds. It burned so well that the fence itself caught fire. We were too young to know that this was not a good thing. What was a good thing though was the excitement of watching the firetrucks arriving to put out the blaze. I don’t remember getting in trouble for this which suggests that Dad thought it was funny too.

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