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Long Walk at Night

Long Walk at Night

Behind the home where I lived for several years as a child stood a long grape arbor, leading from the back of the house to the “outhouse.” The arbor was covered by arching, prolific grapevines which were trained over a wire support. A trip to the outhouse during night hours was only accomplished after screwing one’s courage firmly down to the sticking point. There was running water in the house, instead of coming from a well as at my grandparent’s farm and our little house by the river, but there was no proper bathroom in this new house. Just as at that other little house, a big, white ice-box stood just outside the kitchen door. Milk and bread were delivered to the front door every morning except on Sundays. Those delivery arrangements pleased Mom very much. She was kept very busy dealing with three noisy, growing kids, and had another one on the way by then. Dad still went off to the DuPont Chambers Works every day in the old car, but mom now had neighbors she could visit. For her it wasn’t so lonely anymore. My little three-year-old sister often toddled after me outside in the yard. We would play together in front of the house, under old woody shrubs. Once we went off across an adjacent vacant lot to go exploring. Someone had dug a deep, narrow hole in that field, and I accidentally tipped headfirst into it, with my arms jammed down against my sides. I couldn’t scream for help, the hole was too confining, and I couldn’t move my arms. I finally lost consciousness from being upside down so long. Meanwhile, my little sister kept running back and forth between the hole and the house, not knowing what to do. Should she stay with me or go to tell Mom? Mom finally saw my sister’s indecisive movements and came out to see what was going on. She had to get a neighbor man to help pull me out of the hole. That experience led to me having another, a newer, a bigger fear in my life. First had been snakes, then big cows, squawking, flapping “banty” hens, and then small, dark, enclosed places. After that it was very difficult for me to go out to the two-hole
outhouse at the end of the long, vine-covered walkway behind the house, especially at night!

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