Old Number 3 sure had its moments. I paled around with my buddies. When you're 10 years old you keep that connection. It is your life line in so many ways, especially when things at home are not to one's liking. The kids I hung around with wereall in the same boat and we got into mischief but not maliciously. We needed to be active and to have our place in the sun. Where was it? It was in all that we did when we got together. It meant keeping things to ourselves and cutting corners at times to make it all work. We acted out our fantasies just like all kids but with us it sometimes took on a more active role.
Take the day we all decided, Harold, Jimmy, Ron and myself, to explore a horse farm more than a short distance out in the country. It was in the summer and we all had chores to do but in the afternoon we could get away and explore to our heart's content.
We met at the school house about one pm and started out. We had planned to make an afternoon of it so we bought along some food, drink and apples for the horses. The apples came from Ron's house. His dad was a big western fan, liked apples and always had some around the house. Ron snitched some appples over a period of a week. I didn't have a knapsack. Harold had one and it carried all of our grub and water. Our water containers were Mason fruit jars. They did the job. The knapsacks must have all been left over from the war for I only remember seeing brown or tan ones. There was a flap on top and with a strap and buckle to keep it tight. Also there was a pouch on the bottom with a strap and buckle. There must have been different models but that is the only one I remember since my folks never had one. We had an old T shirt we used to keep the Mason jars from rattling.
It was a long walk to the horse farm so we passed the time talking about everything and nothing. The one notable exception was our plan to explore the horse barn situated down from the house and quite large in size. What we liked about it was it was two stories and there were numerous stalls on the bottom floor and the second floor was hay storage and a smaller room in the back. We knew all this because we could see it from the road and Jimmy was there one time with his father who had done some part time work for the owner. Well, we only had about five more miles to go and, after stopping several times to have a snack and drink the water from our fruit jars, we arrived. We didn't see anyone around so we headed for the barn. The stalls were full of horses and we didn't seem to make them nervous. We all had our favorites and petted those that would let us and generally felt we were rich folks as we walked around the barn. We kept our conversation low. Harold decided to show off and went into a stall with a horse that was friendly and began feeding him part of an apple. Harold teased the horse a bit and the horse moved over toward him and trapped him between the stable wall and the horse. No amount of pushing and shoving seemed to get the horse to move. Ron went in to help him and, as he pushed, the horse moved and stepped on his foot. Harold got loose but the only way Ron could keep the horse's weight off his toes was to keep pushing the horse away and grabbing the bridle. He had tears in his eyes and finally Jimmy threw something at the horse which made it move and Ron got free. Ron hopped around the barn for a few minutes but seemed none the worse for wear by the time the pain went away. We laughed about Ron's and Harold's predicament. I couldn't help but remark: "Gees Harold, the look on your face was something, not to mention the fact the horse took your breath away when he pushed you into the wall and you gasped, 'get off me horse.'" "Yeh, really funny Digger. Where were you when I needed help?" Harold then laughed and said: "Yeh, I was never so glad as when Ron got that horse to move."Jimmy piped in and said: "Ron, you grabbing your leg and yelling, 'move you dumb horse' in a high pitched voice was really funny." Ron said: "Yeh, real funny, as I was stepping in the crap and getting it all over my shoes."
We had a good laugh and went back to looking around. There was a tack room with all kinds of halters, bridles, saddles and stuff. What we really liked was the picture on the tack room wall of "Man of War. " It seemed everyone knew about the big red horse. He was something to look at alright. Harold had started up the stairway to the hay loft and said: "Come on guys. "Let's see what is up here." We all ran up the steps and came into an area loaded with hay. We scuffled in the hay and threw it at each other and could see outside as the hay barn doors were wide open. Jimmy had discovered a trophy room. Man, there were trophies on shelves all around the room. We never had time to examine them for a voice from below shouted: "What are you kids doing up there?" We all shouted in chorus: "Let's get out of here!" We headed for the hay doors because we could hear someone coming up the steps. It was about fourteen feet to the ground and no time to think it through. Jimmy and Harold jumped first. We waited until they were out of the way then Ron and I took the plunge. Holy Cow, that hurt when the ground came up to meet us. It knocked the stuffing out of me and I could hardly get on my feet without writhing in pain. All four of us hobbled off with a guy shouting from the haybarn doors. "You blasted kids.
Don't you ever come back here or I'll whip your butts, you little buggers." We weren't able to hear the rest because, by this time, we had recovered enough to run off. It seemed we were running for about five minutes before we stopped. Gasping for breath I was the first to utter: "Did you see the size of that guy?" "Yeh." said Harold. "It seemed to me like his body filled the framework of the doors." Ron said: " I thought he was going to jump also and get one of us." Jimmy said: "Me too; that guy could have eaten us for breakfast." We got our breath and kept moving but decided to get off the road in case the guy would chase us down with his truck or something. The rest of the way home we decided that we had had enough of horse barns for quite awhile.
When I came in for supper Mom said: "What have you been doing?" "Oh nothing;" I replied, "just having fun running and jumping." I laughed within myself and thought: "If she only knew."