October 11, 2010

Take Me Back

We’ve all got ‘em. Some of you may have three or four, or ten. I have at least six I can think of. One is on an old eight-track tape I ran across in a box the other day. I have a few hanging on the wall and some in the attic I’m sure. There’s one in my wallet and one right there on the dresser in my bedroom.

I’m talking about triggers, or something that “takes you back” to another place and time. It might be a picture, the name of a road, an old convertible, or something as simple as a single word.

I’m very fond of “going back” and remembering days gone by. I guess it’s my way of getting through the tough times in my present life and dealing with the insanity of the new millennium. But regardless, everyone has a special moment, or place in time that helps you remember a simpler, less responsible time in your life.

As I said earlier, I have a few myself. There is one right across the road from my house in an old, empty pasture. You’ve probably heard them called the “horse apple”, “Osage Apple”, “Hedge apple” or “cowboy bowling ball”. I’m talking about the most useless vegetation to ever litter the ground, the Bois d’ Arc Apple.

You’ve seen them if you live in Texas. Those sticky, bumpy, lime-green, softball-sized masses that hit the ground in the fall and sit idly by waiting to wither into the spawn of another Bois d’ Arc tree.

It was very common in the late sixties and early seventies for kids to walk to school, especially if you lived in a small town as I did. We had two ways to get to school every morning and my brothers, a few friends and I would swap out our path ever so often to get there.

My favorite direction was taking Highland Avenue. It was a long road that crested into a small hill right in the middle of our walk. And at the top of that gentle, sloping hill was a Bois d’ Arc Tree that always seemed to have an ample supply of the fresh orbs lying around on the ground. Most would just walk on by and never take a second look at them, but we were boys. We had to do something with them. A perfectly good bois d’ arc apple just lying around wasn’t going to happen if we could help it.

As young boys minds do, our imagination finally devised the game of “Bois d’ Arc bowling”. This was a game we came up with out of shear boredom I believe. We would take turns rolling the apples down the West side of Highland Avenue and the apple that rolled the furthest and stayed in the middle of the road for the longest was the “winner” and that person had bragging rights for the day.

On Saturdays we’d go up on the hill and have “bowling tournaments”. One or two of us would venture down the hill some 200 yards away and at the end of the “lane”, we would place Coke cans, bottles, sticks or whatever other kind of “pins” we could find and have a tournament.

Shorty, David, Butch, Ricky and I would spend the better part of Saturday trying to get a strike from atop the hill on Highland Avenue. You know, I don’t ever recall anyone ever hitting the “pins”.

Recently, I was in the front yard with my youngest granddaughter, who is almost four and suffers from Autism. I looked out across the road and there next to the fence line and just on the shoulder on the other side of the road, were three or four Bois d’ Arc apples just waiting to be flung down my drive.

Well, you know what I did. I took my granddaughter by the hand and introduced another generation to the grand old Texas game of “Bois d’ Arc Bowling”. Despite all of her inabilities, she’s getting pretty good at a game that I started playing 45 years ago myself. God, I pray that you will lead my little granddaughter by the hand during her difficult life and I also pray that there will always be an ample supply of Bois d’ Arc apples.