Back when I was growing up money was scarce. There was a few who had it but most didn’t. Some kids didn’t know what toys were at Christmas. Cowboys and Indians was played by boys carrying stick guns and wooden knives. Most of the boys learned how to make a stick gun.

In order to make a good stick gun you needed a good Barlow knife. I had one that had a broken blade in it. The big blade was still good. You would look around until you found a small tree that had a limb that was shaped like a gun. You would cut it to the size you wanted your gun to be; us old cowboys carried the Colt .45. I have worked on a stick gun for months and still not got it the way I wanted, but when this happened, back to the stick and the old Barlow. You just kept trying until you had it right. I had a pair of guns that made the boys in the neighborhood jealous. They were hanging on the wall in my room. A girl in the neighborhood stole them while I was in the Army.

There where the railroad crosses the road at what is now called John Davenport was a huge sawdust pile. This was a huge pile so some of us boys cleaned all the wood pieces out of the sawdust and made it our fort. We fought every kind of bad guy that ever played in the movies. I remember one of the boys. I will call him Captain Herman.

Captain Herman’s mother had an income from the government. He would get the money and go to see what was playing. He would come back and organize himself an army of the smaller boys and rid the area of the bad guys. Captain Herman would get some of the small, round pieces of peppermint candy to pay his army. It worked out real good, for the little fellows in his Army would walk carrying a stick gun. When in a battle it would sound like a warzone with all the bangs coming from the stick guns.

The troops were assembled and the march to the fort began. Captain Herman called his chief scout out to check out the fort to see if it had been taken. I was the chief scout, known back then as Blue Hawk. I would go ahead and circle about the sawdust pile, and by then Captain Herman had arrived at the creek. He was resting the men and the stick horses so they would be ready for the battle to come.

I rode in close to the sawdust pile and saw that Bad Bill and his gang had taken the fort. I rushed back to report the situation to Captain Herman. He placed the troops into position. On his signal we all rushed to the top of the sawdust pile. There was a lot of bangs, but we won the fort back.

We sat on top of the sawdust pile eating a piece of peppermint candy, resting, when it sounded like the sawdust had exploded. We had sloped one side of the sawdust pile to where we could run up it. There was a scramble to see who could get off of the sawdust pile.

I eased over to the edge and looked over. The side of the sawdust was clear except that it looked like a briar patch. The sawdust had quit sliding and I could see that something had been covered by the sliding sawdust. It looked like a big box. Captain Herman had got the smaller boys to safety.

Herman returned after he got the smaller kids home. I had stayed on top of the sawdust pile listening. The noise would come from in the sawdust pile. It sounded several times like a gun was being fired in the sawdust. Herman and I listened, not daring to go down to the bottom of the sawdust to find out what it was. We kept on pushing sawdust down on it. Whatever it was got quiet and quit making noises.

A lady who I will call Miss Boot lived across the railroad. She came to the back and, seeing us, started toward us. She came up looking kind of funny. She ran around to the side of the sawdust pile where the noise was coming from. She yelled, “Help me get this box uncovered before Mister Boot suffocates.”

We got the box uncovered and the lid off. Laying stretched out on the bottom with nothing on but a pair of jockey shorts lay Mister Boot. Herman and I had cut off air to the box when we covered it with sawdust. Half dragging him, she carried him to the house.

We found out later that he had put the box in the sawdust pile and covered it so he could have a place to hide from the police when he got drunk. If she hadn’t got to him when she did, it would probably have been Mister Boot’s last drunk. After that, every time we saw Mister Boot, he would shake his fist at us.

All of Captain Herman’s Army have passed on. The only one left is his chief scout, Blue Hawk. I can close my eyes and see them as if it was yesterday. They may have passed on, gone, but I can see them in my mind. Their memories shall live on as long as I do.

Lonie Adcock of Rome is a retired Rome Police Department lieutenant. His latest book is “Fact or Fiction.”

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