Leon Was Not The Fourth Man!

Published: Thursday, March 7, 2013 at 02:46 PM.

            We ate hamburgers at the City Café. We bought our kites, candy corn and Valentine cards at the Ben Franklin Store. We spent hours trying to catch the gold fish in the city square pond. I got Smiley Burnette’s autograph in 1958 where the McKenzie Banner’s office is today. We bought cherry cokes and malted milkshakes at John Motherall’s drugstore. We escaped the humdrum of life at the Park Theatre chasing bad guys across the screen with Roy, Hoppy and Gene. We played baseball in the open lot between Ricky Hale and Jimmy Mabry’s houses. That field is still there…..it has just shrunk some over time. 

            It was a normal “mid America” life from a generation ago. There were thousands of towns, city squares, malt shops and movie theaters just like ours. I hope it doesn’t offend anyone that I just happen to believe mine was the best! Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, had a better childhood than we did!

            Leon was a big part of it. As his younger brother I knew him better than most. That could be a good thing….but then again, that could cost you, too. If he wanted to play “Stalag 17” he would make me go up on the roof with a flashlight to “be” the German sentry. It was a two story house and I had to crawl out an upstairs window onto the small porch roof and then jump and catch the ledge of the upper roof and pull myself up over the edge to reach the top. I’d then sprawl out on the roof peak overlooking the side yard, trying to shine the light on Leon, Joe Gooch or Jackie Burns as runaway prisoners. If Leon tired of this game, he’d throw walnuts or dirt clods at me to see if he could knock me off the roof.

Leon was living “outside the box” even before there was such a thing. As a matter of fact, he couldn’t even see the box from where he was enjoying life. If you could think of it, he would try it! If it seemed impossible or made no real practical sense he would be off and running before you could say Jack Sprat! I have simply made a semi-living for a while now recording those thrilling days of yesteryear.

I might embellish a story here and there for effect. I don’t know if you’d say that was invoking literary license, good creative writing or expressing my poetic freedom. Daddy would say it was flat out lying. It wouldn’t matter that I was his middle son.

But, even Dad would tell you, Leon is real. The town is real. The people are real. And the memories are real.  

And I thank God every day for them.



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