This quarantine stuff is driving me nuts! It’s like being eight years old again on a rainy day out at the end of Stonewall Street. We couldn’t go down to the big ditch and swing on grapevines. We couldn’t race Graylene Lemonds to the stop sign. We couldn’t bounce a rubber ball off the house. Mom wouldn’t even let us run to the woodpile and back for goodness sakes! And we didn’t have a TV to help while away the hours.

It was kinda like doing absolutely nothing….on steroids!

Three brothers looked out the window a lot. We listened to the mantel clock ticking eternally along. We walked to the kitchen for a drink of water. We questioned God rather harshly about His promising not to ever punish us again with so much rain.

And mostly we thought of all the fun and exciting things we could be doing if we could just get outside and be with some friends.

Mom would say with a tad too much enthusiasm, “We could put a puzzle together.” It was her “go to” rainy day option. But listen, we only had one jigsaw puzzle. And it was that hillside scene with the ancient stone houses that all looked alike arrayed along some Mediterranean coastline.

Maybe it was in the Netherlands. Or just outside of Bingen, on the Rhine River. But I know you’ve seen it. 1000 tiny pieces! Listen, we were bored out of our minds, tired of sitting, restless, irritated, confined—actually felt incarcerated—but we were NOT that desperate!

We’d play Chinese checkers. For three or four minutes. It would take about that long for one of us to get irrevocably behind. Instead of jumping an opponent’s marble, we’d start throwing them at each other.

We’d move the dining room table against the wall and toss a pillow down for second base. I’d back up next to the fireplace in the living room to get a good running start. As soon as I crossed into the dining room, David Mark would throw the ball to Leon and he’d try to tag me before I could slide into “second”.

Half the crowd thought I was safe. The other half swore I was out. I’d jump to my feet and yell that the pillow moved! Mom couldn’t umpire worth a hoot. She didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.

The fight usually lasted longer than the inside baseball game.

I made up an invisible friend. Doak showed up every rainy day. We’d plan fishing trips and talk about what it would be like to drive cattle from Texas up to Dodge City. We fought Indians. Rustlers. And crooked saloon owners.

We’d play “name-that-tune”. And throw touchdown passes to each other. We’d hurl rocks at used up Pet Milk cans and ride the big horse to town any time we felt like it. He’d talk some nights like he didn’t have a care in the world….even after Mom turned out the lights!

Doak still lives in that house. And, sometimes, even now, on extra slow days, I will think of something he said. Or some gunslinger we chased down. Or remember him commenting on one of the pretty girls in school.

Leon interrupted us all the time! He’d have a new indoor game idea. “Let’s get some cardboard and slide down the stairs.”

It sounded better than getting a tooth knocked out by a marble. We found a Clorox box Mom had used for groceries and tore the sides to flatten it. We made David go first. There were only twelve steps.

Dave slid down the first four, bounced like a rubber ball over the next five and tumbled head over heels the last couple before crash landing into the hall below. We quickly learned to hold on to the cardboard. It would keep you from beating your backside to death….but it couldn’t prevent the uncontrollable wreck at the bottom!

When it came to mandated “house arrest”, we were innovative to say the least back in ’55.

I’m not so sure about today. I don’t have any stairs to side down. Cathy is not big on moving the dining room table out of the way. Leon is not here to invent something. There are no live sports on TV. And if you have seen one Hallmark Movie….

Cathy did suggest we could put a puzzle together.

You can bet I nipped that in the bud!

I have been searching for our Chinese checker board….and wondering how Doak is getting along these days….