A Child of the Fifties

by Paul Schroder

Chapter 10

It was Saturday and Sam had come over early to watch cartoons with me. Me and her and Jimmy were going to ride over to the pond later on when it got warm. We were sitting on the floor with our backs against the couch. That's because my brother Dick had claimed the couch and was stretched out on it.

Sam, whose real name was Samantha, didn't like my brother Dick so much. He teased her about her name the first time they met. Anyways, Dick was making those small nasal noises that told me he had fallen asleep on the couch. Sam heard it too and looked up at him.

She looks at me and grins. Then she twists around on her knees and carefully unties my brother's shoe laces. Then she ties two of them together. I throw my hand over my mouth so I won't giggle.

She turns back around just as my Mom steps into the living room from the kitchen. She says...

"Dick, wake up." His eyes spring open.

"Go out to the car and get the box of laundry detergent I left in the back seat."

"Ah, Ma," he says, sleepily. "Can't Paul go get it for you?"

"Paul has a visitor. Now get out there. I want it now."

"Okay," he says, yawning and stretching. He slides both feet off the couch onto the floor.

Well, you know what happens as soon as he attempts to take a step. Kaboom, right on his little pumpkin nose!

"Ow, ow... you little shit! You tied my laces together you little prick."

"Well, it's been a nice visit" Sam hollers as she jumps to her feet and dashes for the door.

She looks down on my brother with the biggest grin on her face as she deliberately points to herself.

Dick is leaning on his elbows and sneering in her direction when his nose starts running red.

"SLAM" The door closes, my friend's gone, Dick is pinching his nostrils together while kicking off his shoes. Off he runs to the bathroom.

This leaves mother standing in the doorway from the kitchen, drying a bowl, looking at my departing brother. She then looks down at his handily tied shoes, looks up at me and points towards the front door as if asking a question. I give her a nod and a grin in response. Mother just shakes her head then retreats back into the kitchen. She's always wanted a daughter. I think Sam is gonna get away with a lot of stuff in this house.

Later on I ride over to Sam's house, leaning my bike against their picket fence. Her father, Mr Humphreys, has re-nailed and replaced the missing pickets and given it a coat of paint. The old couple that owned it before had let the property go quite a bit.

I knocked on the door and she was grinning when she greeted me. I saw her kinda glancing out behind me, I guess in case my brother was using me as a decoy.

"What happened?" She asked me.

"Nothin'" I reply. "Mother looked at Dick's shoes and then just shook her head.

"Does she know I'm the one that did it? I didn't want to get you in trouble."

"I think she did. All she did was shake her head and walk back into the kitchen."

"What did your brother say?"

"Well, he spent some time in the bathroom and when he came out he had toilet paper shoved up his nose."

"Yeah, but did he say anything?" She asks, anxiously.

"Nope, he just picks up his shoes and spends a long time trying to undo the knots in his laces. He said something though once he got his shoes back on."

"Well, what did he say!"

He said, "tell her someday a big wind is gonna drop a house on her." Then he got up and left.

Well, we walked our bikes down the street to Jimmy's house. We had made plans yesterday to go over to the pond. I can tell Jimmy really likes Sam like I do. She's more boy than girl and so you don't end up saying stuff that will just get you in trouble. You can say what's on your mind to another boy.

Jimmy's mother answers the door. "Listen kids. I'm taking Suzie with me to do some visiting. Jimmie says he wants to stay here. So, I called your Mom and she said she'd watch him for the day."

Jimmy is standing at her side and making pumping signs with his fist. It's the same sign you make towards the big rigs when they drive by. You know... to get them to honk their monster horn! Yes... his arm is saying.

She pulls him to the door, in front of her. "You better obey Mrs Schroder or your butt's gonna need butter to get better, boy! Get my drift?" Jimmy nods his head like he thinks we can hear the pebbles rattling around inside it.

"Is it okay if he spends time at my house Mrs Grundle?"

"Well, Samantha, you'll need to ask Paul's Mother. She's in charge."

Jimmy grabs his bike. He got his training wheels removed right after I did because he didn't want to be the baby of the block. Mrs Grundle had my brother Billy do it because Mr Grundle was a salesman and wasn't home very much.

"So, we're still goin' to this pond you talked about, right guys?" Sam asks.

"Yep," I reply. "My Mom already knows about it so it's okay" I say. "But I don't know if she'll let us go alone. We might have to take someone older with us."

"Let's ride over to Craig's house and see if he'll go with us," Jimmy suggests.

"I dunno..." I respond, "my Mother doesn't like Craig so much cuz she says he has a potty mouth."

"His little brother is like, nine, ain't he?" Jimmy asks. "Will that be old enough for your Mom?"

"Maybe. Let's go get Barry and then find out."

We make a fearsome trio ridding over to our friend's house on the next block. Mainly because me and Jimmy have playing cards pinned to our bike's forks so that our spokes smack them with a rat-a-tat-tat as the wheels spin. We have two cards each so you can hear us coming a half block away. Sam was in the lead and she stopped and held up her hand when we got about four houses away. She leaned her bike against some peoples fence then walked over to my bike and pulled my cards off. Then she did the same to Jimmy. She didn't say anything, just looked at us like if we want to complain, now's the time. But me 'n Jimmy are sensible; we know when to keep our mouths shut. Women... always wanting their own way!

We get to Craig and Barry's house only to find the family car gone and no one answering our knock.

"Well," I sigh, "guess we should just check with my mother. If she makes Dick go with us you know we won't have a good time, right?"

"Not after what I did to him." A smiling Sam replies.

"That guy's a poopy brain," Jimmy retorts. "A turd taster," Sammy says, giggling.

"No...no...no..." she says, "he's not a smart feller, he's a fart smeller."

It's a good thing we hadn't gotten back on our bikes yet or we would have fallen over from laughing so hard. Poop and fart jokes are at the top of the list for six and seven year olds.

I was still wiping the tears out of my eyes when we dropped our bikes into a pile on my sidewalk. My Mom met us on the porch with a folded over sack in her hand.

"All right boys. Normally I would have one of your older brothers go along with you on your outing but, since Samantha is going to be with you, I guess you three can go on your own."

Mother looked at Sam and said, "don't let them do anything too stupid, Samantha. And here, I made you all some sandwiches." She handed the bag to Sam.

I filled my canteen from the faucet on the side of the house and we climbed on our bikes. My friends heard me grumbling and Jimmy said to speak up.

"I said... how come my Mother trusts Sam and not you or me, Jimmy?"

"It's a woman thing," he explains. "My Dad said that if they ever let women marry each other they would rule the world." Sam just nodded her head knowingly.

"Yep, we would," she says.

It was a productive day. Sam showed us how to steer our bikes with our feet. Jimmy ran into a bush. I ran into Sam. She remembered what my mother said and made us quit.

When we get to the pond, the first thing we teach Sam is to take off the shoes and socks. There's no way you're not going to want to wade around in the shallow end. The next thing you know, we are all wading around in just our underwear. Due to certain mishaps, our clothes are drying on a flat rock.

It seems she's not scared of frogs, tadpoles, dragonflies or water skeeters. But Jimmy did chase her with a garter snake. Seems she doesn't like those.

Hunger pangs invade our activities and we squat together on a grassy section of the bank and eat our sandwiches. Waxing philosophical, I ask Sam why girls don't have weenies. She thinks for a minute or so, while chewing on her sandwich.

"I guess," she replies, "if we all had wieners, we'd all be boys. And since boys can't have babies, there would be no more people."

Me and Jimmy both take a sharp intake of breath! What a huge concept to hit our six year old brains!

"Wow... that's right," Jimmy declared, "boys don't have babies!"

Sam just nods her head, feeling rather smug about such a philosophical statement. But then Jimmy asks:

"But why can't a boy grow a baby in his tummy like a girl can?"

Sam is looking a bit less smug as she contemplates an answer to this. I don't think she knows a lot more about the subject than we do, to tell the truth.

"Well..." she replies, "if you think about it, the baby needs a way to come out of your tummy. Would you like to have a baby come out of your wiener?"

Both me and Jimmy do an open eyed stare at one another. I kind of squeeze my legs together just thinking about it.

"But all you have is a bump," he says, in exasperation. "How is that any different from a wiener?"

She looks at him like he's a quart low on cerebral fluid.

"I beg your pardon? A bump?"

"You know... instead of a wiener between your legs, you have a hump."

"Oh... you've never had a good look at that HUMP, have you?" She asks, sarcastically.

Jimmy and I look to one another and then shake our heads. It has been an entirely uninteresting part of his sister's anatomy or our thought processes to even contemplate.

The next half hour was a show and tell experience that you will never, ever experience in any classroom. We two boys learned so much of the human anatomy, at least the female side, that it was mind boggling. We both offered to exhibit as much for Sam's benefit as she had graciously offered for our own education. But, she allowed, as a boy really had nothing that wasn't in plain view already, she wasn't interested.

I would lie awake numerous nights in the future, contemplating all the physical aspects I had learned of men versus women. And, while what I learned about the fairer sex on that outing was tremendous, it simply generated more questions than were answered. Although, as the years progressed, I would find I was less interested in female anatomy, as a rule, than of the male. At that stage of my life though, it was all a huge mystery.

The end cap for that day didn't come until a week later when mother found a frog in my pocket. It had turned into leather. Jimmy's snake got loose in the house, again, but luckily his sister found it. It was in her bed. His mother made Jimmy turn the snake loose in the field and then change Suzie's urine soaked sheets. Suzie poured a pitcher of ice water on Jimmy in reprisal when he took his bath that night.

My brother Billy did the mowing for Sam's Dad. It seems George Humphreys was more of a tinkerer around the house and less of a laborer. Billy earned gas money by mowing their lawn every Saturday. He was allowed to borrow our family station-wagon only if he put gas back in it.

Mrs Humphreys was paying my brother for his labors when she asked him if he could suggest someplace fun they could take Sam and a couple of her guests to celebrate her birthday. She was turning eight in two days.

He thought of a few places but the one that caught her interest was the municipal swimming pool. It seems Sam was a pretty good swimmer. The Humphreys and my brother got together and arranged for Billy and his girlfriend, Rachel, to take us kids swimming day after tomorrow. That was her actual birthday. Then she could have cake and a party on Saturday when her father would be home.

Billy told me about it at dinner. Our mother gave permission to use the station-wagon as Sam's parents would pay for gas and the cost for everyone to swim. I was super excited and ran right over to Jimmy's house after dinner to tell him. Sam's mother had already talked to Jimmy's mother and got her permission for Jimmy to go. So he knew all about it to and was excited as I was.

I helped him look through his dresser drawers to find his swim suit. And, of course, it's always the last drawer you look into. He laid his suit on his bed, along with a towel, and he was all set for Saturday. We then ran out of the house, heading for Sams. Jimmy's mother was just walking towards Jimmy's room as we hit the front door. We heard her scream just as the door slammed. We hit the afterburners when we heard the scream. When we get to Sams place, Jimmy says "I guess we should'a put the clothes back into my dresser. But then, I don't know how to fold clothes."

No one was home at Sam's. It turns out they needed to get Sam a new bathing suit as she outgrew her old one. It didn't seem prudent to go back to Jimmy's right away so we went to my house.

"You can help me find my suit," I tell him.

"Okay, but your Mom is just gonna scream too!"

"Umm... we won't take the other stuffs out of the dresser, just the suit."

It didn't take me long to locate it. Mother wandered into my room, saw the suit and told me to try it on. Well, it seems the last time I wore it I was five and that was a year ago.

Boy's swim suits looked nothing like the baggy things today's kids wear. Ours were pretty much form fitting. And, when I put on my way too small suit to try it out, it didn't leave anything to the imagination. I tried bending over and that was a mistake. My suit gave me a wedgie. Mother put the nix on that thing and brought out the cardboard box with every swim suit either of my brothers had ever worn. (Nothing got thrown out at our house.)

She found the closest thing to my size for me to try on. I remember seeing this suit on Dick.

"Ewwww... Mother! Did you wash the cooties out?" I say, grinning at her. Dick was always claiming I had cooties so it felt good to reciprocate.

"It's safe, Sweety. I beat them to death with a hammer!"

That's all it took to have me n' Jimmy doubled over and red faced, laughing our fool heads off. My mother should be on the Red Skelton show.

The suit was a little big for me but it did have a draw string to make sure it stayed in place. It was a dark blue which happened to be my favorite color.

So, I got dressed again and wrapped the blue suit in a towel and I was ready to go.

"Say, Jimmy. Do you think your suit is gonna fit you?"

"Yep," he says. "Our Grandma took me and Suzie to get new suits when we stayed with her this summer."

Well, the next day was about sixty eleven hours long because we had to wait a whole day to go swimming. But we did ask Sam why she choose swimming as her fun birthday thing to do.

"I really, really, really like swimming. I took lessons when I was little and can swim real good. Can you guys swim?"

Jimmy and I look at one another. I happen to know he can't swim a lick and neither can I. There was no place close by for us to take lessons or even to practice. The local pond was too yucky to swim in. We both gave her a small shake of our heads.

"Well, I suppose I can give you a lesson," she says. "We'll play pirates and I'll have you walk the plank off the high diving board. You'll learn to swim real fast."

We all laugh but, I have to admit, me 'n Jimmy's laughs are pretty much forced. There is no way she's gonna get me anywhere close to the deep end.

Next week I lose my suit at the swimming pool. You haven't written to me yet. Yeah, you know who you are.

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