August 4
by Bill Booth

In the early 1950’s, most children in the deep south attended public schools and shared a spirit of adventure that carried over from the recent World War. I was no exception. Much of my youth was spent in quest of exploits like those described in books by Mark Twain, Jack London, Zane Grey, Jules Verne, and similar writers. These were tales boys thrived upon … stories of outdoorsmen, heroism, soldiers, and cowboys. They were about the kind of Americans we emulated.

The Early Years

From the back of the third grade classroom a faint, high-pitched wail quickly blossomed into a full-blown scream. Several of us knew immediately what had happened even before Janie Flowers stood up with a match stick dangling from her forehead.

Mike had missed Japan.

For the past couple of weeks, three or four boys in Miss Milton’s third grade class had focused our geography studies on Japan, Italy, and Germany. These axis countries were all illustrated in color at the back of the room on a huge world map and were “targeted” with our homemade darts, made from wooden kitchen matches with the heads cut off.

We improved our darts by adjusting the width and span of the tail fins, made from notebook paper. Bombing practice was anytime Miss Milton turned her back to the class, and we retrieved our darts at recess while passing the map on the way to the playground. It was exciting and a lot of fun but would have been more educational had we been allowed adequate time to study our misses.

Mike Baker and I sat near the middle of the room, affording us excellent cover for our secret operations. “I just hit Germany,” I whispered to Mike across the isle. That put me in first place for the morning practice. “I’m going for Japan,” Mike said. It was a chancy move because Japan was way over on the right side of the map and harder to hit than Germany or Italy. A score on Japan would easily put Mike in the leader’s chair, since he regularly hit Germany and Italy, both centered behind us.

“Nobody’s ever hit Japan,” I goaded.

“Just watch,” he replied.

An eternity passed while Miss Milton droned on and on about something of far less interest than World War II. But Mike waited patiently, trusty dart poised in a hand between his knees as he slumped over his desk. At last, Miss Milton turned to write on the blackboard. Mike didn’t waste a second. He whirled in perfect form toward the back of the room without rising from his chair. Just then, Miss Milton remembered something she wanted to say before writing on the board. Seeing her turn out of the corner of his eye, Mike tried to recover his former position, but the missile had been launched and there was no calling it back. That was when Janie stood up and screamed.

The rest of the story is of little interest. Suffice it to say that Janie had no serious injury. After all, it was just a superficial pin prick. Hardly anything to call for a scream like the one she let out. Probably because of his red, glowing face and shuffling feet, Mike quickly was singled out as the culprit to blame But he was a stand-up kind of guy. He went to the Principal’s office without pointing a finger at any of the rest of us … left sitting in a pool of sweat while he was marched out of the room.

The only other time I can recall Mike having to go to the Principal’s office was for an incident that occurred when we were taking turns reading comic book stories out loud in Miss Milton’s class. Mike read from some kind of adventure hero comic and came to a line that contained a “#*!**#” type entry. Without hesitation, Mike interpreted the line, “you dirty son-of-a-bitch!”

“Michael!” Miss Milton practically screamed. She was beside herself. She stood instantly and told Mike to stop reading. Mike just gave her an innocent look and said, “Isn’t that what those little signs mean?”

After the dart incident, as it came to be known, Mike and I hung out together more often, attracted by newly discovered mutual interests. We both were intrigued by WWII memorabilia, fishing, hunting, cowboys, and camping out. And surprisingly, in our younger years Mike and I shared a strange fascination with fire.

Mike once was grounded for several weeks just for setting fire to the family garage. I’ve forgotten all the details, although they involved gasoline and matches. The occurrence had to have been an accident because Mike kept his worm bed in the garage and wouldn’t have destroyed that for the world. As I recall, damage to the garage was considerable, but the worms survived. His punishment probably was more severe than usual due to the fact that earlier he had partially burned the garage of some friends, but failed to destroy it. In those days, Mike’s motto was, “Practice makes Perfect”…not that his goal was to burn down a garage, but he wanted to perfect his ability to burn things whenever and wherever the need arose – inside a garage for example.

Speaking of practice, the only fire trick I had perfected about that time was one where you would squirt a little lighter fluid on your finger, then light it and hold up your fiery finger for all to admire before extinguishing the flame with a quick, swishing motion of the hand. The whole thing had to be completed expeditiously before your finger heated up and you got burned. This trick went well when I showed it to Mike. Naturally, he wanted to try it.

“Nah, it’s too dangerous,” I said. “Didn’t I tell you what happened to Bussy when he tried it?” Bussy, my cousin, was a frequent companion back then.

“No, I don’t think so,” Mike replied.

“Well, I told Bussy this trick was too dangerous, but he took the lighter fluid away from me and squirted his finger anyway. By the time I got the can back, he had struck a match and lit his finger.”

“So? What’s the point,” Mike said.

“The point is, Bussy hadn’t been trained … but the flames were really something.”

“Flames? From his finger?”

“No, not just his finger. Bussy’s whole forearm caught on fire, and the flames went clear over his head and dripped off his elbow! When he tried to put it out with a quick flick of his wrist, the flames just got bigger.”

“Ohmigosh!” Mike exclaimed.

“Yeah. He tried slinging his whole arm, but it was like waving a torch through the air.” I shook my head in dismay, thinking about it.

“I still remember that terrible roaring, swooshing sound he made when he ran for the door.”

“Wow, the flames roared?”

“No, Bussy roared. The flames swooshed.”

“Anyway, I knew I was in trouble when he got outside. I chased him to try to put out the fire, but he wouldn’t slow down enough for me to catch up.”

“So, what happened then?”

“Well, the lighter fluid burned pretty fast, and Bussy stopped running when the fire went out. His arm didn’t look too bad, except all the hair was burned off, and the hair on one side of his head was all singed and had black, crinkly ends. I tried to get him to see the funny side, but when I started laughing, he started crying and went home.”

“Did he tell his folks?”

“Nah, he knew I’d get him if he did. He told his mom we were burning some trash, and he got too close.”

“She believed that?”

“Yeah, we burn trash all the time.

“But you told him it was dangerous, didn’t you?”

“Sure I did. If I had told him to do it, the first thing I would have told him was to be sure to point his finger toward the ground when he squirted the lighter fluid on it. Anybody should know better than to point it up in the air like he did.”

After a few seconds of silent deliberation, Mike quietly said, “Hand me that lighter fluid. I know how to do this.”

Shortly before getting our drivers’ licenses but before we lost our fascination with fire, Mike and I made a fantastic discovery that had nothing to do with fishing or hunting but did involve the use of a .22 rifle and the outdoors. We could pursue this activity only if nobody else was home at Mike’s somewhat remote farmhouse. We couldn’t enjoy it at all at my house because we didn’t have any fence posts. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

What we did was to walk two miles to Finkley’s country store and service station. Mr. Finkley was also a neighboring farmer in whose woods we hunted and sometimes camped. We would take with us an empty, glass half-gallon jug scavenged from a trash dump at the back of the Bakers’ ten acres. At Finkley’s, we filled the jug with gasoline. They didn’t have those “approved containers only” laws back then. After another two mile hike back to the farm, we would go out back and make a pile of dead grass, twigs, and small sticks at the base of a wood fence post and then carefully place the jug of gasoline on top of the post.

After flipping a coin to see who the shooter would be and striking a match to the pile of dry debris, we’d back off about forty yards and shoot the jug.

Well, you can barely imagine how magnificent it was. “Wow!” We both exclaimed in unison. When that gas dropped in a mist down into the fire, it exploded with a loud “fa-woomp!” and shot a flame straight up into the sky for what looked like a quarter of a mile. It was like watching a rocket launch. The only disappointment was that it lasted only a couple of seconds. Then we had to put out the fence post before it burned to a cinder.

We were able to enjoy this pastime on only a few occasions, because Mike’s dad noticed all the broken glass around the blackened fence posts in the back yard and figured out what we were doing. That resulted in Mike’s being grounded again. His parents were really strict.

I’m surprised Mr. Finckley didn’t take away our permission to use his place. When we hunted squirrels, we usually would let Mike’s miniature collie “Frankie” come along. After hunting, when it was okay to make a little noise, we would walk along the fence row that kept Mr. Finckley’s cows out of the woods. We always kept a sharp eye out for the cows and especially for the bull since he enjoyed chasing us around the pasture if we were on the wrong side of the fence. But, the cows we liked.

“Look!” Mike would say while walking home, “There’s the Finckley cows!” We were both pretty good at imitating a bawling calf. “Here, Frankie! Come on, boy.” Mike would slap his leg, and Frankie would come bouncing over. Then we would wrestle Frankie to the ground and rough-house with him, bawling frantically like a calf being slaughtered. “Bwaa … bwaa,” we both bawled while Frankie struggled to get free.

The cows bought it every time. The whole herd would charge over and start bellowing like crazy, bucking and kicking and running around in circles. The bull just shook his head, snorting, and pawing the ground. It was hilarious, at least from our viewpoint.

I guess Mr. Finckley just never saw us, or he probably would have gotten mad.

Maturity Tries to Take Hold


As time went by, Mike and I became more interested in outdoor pursuits. This was particularly true after we got caught trying to make dynamite and rocket fuel with bamboo joints and black powder, sometimes using potassium permanganate as an accelerant. But that’s not really an outdoor-type story, and it was pretty much a failure anyway.

Around the time we were in Junior High, our fascination with fire ebbed, and we fished and hunted more often. We were undecided about what to do with our lives after high school graduation but were pretty sure we would open a boat rental and bait shop with guide service down on nearby Caddo Lake. Either that or travel to Alaska and homestead a piece of property where we could build a cabin and live off the land by trapping and hunting. We also gave serious consideration to becoming game wardens or forest rangers but knew those careers would probably require time in college, which we preferred not to think about at that time.

In an attempt to further our knowledge of the outdoors, and because it was a lot of fun, we took up skin-diving one summer. We both had driver’s licenses and use of our family cars by that time, and there were dozens of lakes and farm ponds all over East Texas. The sky, or rather the mud at the bottom, was our limit. Almost on a daily basis that summer, we drove from lake to pond to river and explored with our masks and fins.

Nearby Caddo Lake was a favorite location because we could retrieve fishing lures from where they had snagged and been broken off on underwater stumps and limbs. This sometimes was a little scary if the lure was caught tightly in deep water because the possibility of getting hooked in a finger or a hand while snagged to an underwater stump was a real danger. Fortunately, this never happened, and our collection of lures grew steadily.

An associated risk of diving in nearby lakes was unexpectedly revealed to us one fine summer day. We had been told of a small lake with exceptionally clear water that was near a town west of Marshall, where we lived. The lake became our destination for the next day’s diving trip. It was my turn to drive, and we found the lake without any trouble, cruising the back roads in my family’s ’51 Chevy. There was no air conditioning in the car, so we drove shirtless and barefoot in our bathing suits, windows down, enjoying the aroma of pine forests and the feel of warm, summer air on our skin. At the lake, we found a dirt road leading down to what appeared to be a well-used, public parking area. Several houses were visible around the shoreline.

Mike and I jumped out of the car and pulled on fins and masks with snorkels and were in the water within minutes. The water was perfect for skin diving, and we swam out into the lake to a comfortable depth. There, we dove along a line parallel to shore, looking for anything of interest: fish, sunken boats, tree stumps with snagged baits, and so forth. The underwater world was a whole new universe. After an hour or two, we grew tired and made our way back to the car, where we dried off and put our gear on the floor in back.

To our surprise, the car wouldn’t start. After nearly running the battery down, we wondered what to do next. Call somebody? Hitch-hike home? Our dilemma was resolved a short while later when a Sherriff’s car pulled in beside us.

The Sherriff seemed real proud of himself when he held up a black piece of equipment and smiled at us. “Think this might help?” he asked.

Mike and I were stunned speechless.

“It’s your distributor cap, boys. We didn’t want you to be leaving before we had a chance to talk to you. Why don’t you get out of the car and tell us what you are doing out here?”

“Yes, Sir,” we said in unison, then climbed out of my car.

We obediently walked to his car and explained that we were just swimming and snorkeling to get out of the heat. For reasons we would learn later, he didn’t believe us. We were asked to sit in the back of his vehicle while a deputy replaced the distributor cap and started my car. Then we all drove to the Sherriff’s Office in Hallsville where the officer questioned us at length about our recent activities, our families, and what we had in mind by diving around all those private places on the shore of the lake. Seems they had been having a rash of thefts involving outboard motors lately, and he seemed to think we were planning to swim off with one in broad daylight.

After a short while, the Sherriff became bored with bullying us and let us go with a warning not to get caught swimming anywhere near there again. Believe me, we didn’t. Then he proceeded to dress us down about the way we were attired, barefoot and in bathing suits with no shirts. I think he even threatened to arrest us for indecent exposure before we sulked out of his office and drove home. The event curbed our enthusiasm for skin diving for several days. We even wore shirts for awhile and put on shoes when we drove.

Learning About Cars


            After the “Sherriff Incident”, we stayed closer to home for a week or two. This may have had something to do with Mike’s parents learning about our encounter with the Hallsville Sherriff’s Department, but I’m not sure. Anyway, as I’ve said, his parents were really strict.

One day, when the temperature soared to around a hundred degrees, we sat in the shade of a large oak in Mike’s front yard. “Wish we had something to do,” I said. “Me too,” Mike replied.

“I wish I had a big chunk of ice to carve on. I could just stand here in the shade and cool off while I carved a big fish or something out of the ice,” I said.

“That would be fun,” Mike added. “Finckley’s sells ice. We can use your car.”

Shortly afterward, we had our respective ice picks and fifty pound blocks of ice resting on wooden boxes under the tree. Try as we might to make a fish or an elk, the ice wouldn’t cooperate. It was impossible to carve anything with smooth curves, because the ice kept breaking at sharp angles. So we worked with sharp angles. Within a short while, our ice blocks were reduced to piles of melting cubes and rectangles.

That’s when we noticed Eddie’s old car.

Eddie, Mike’s older brother, had brought the scrap of a ‘49 Mercury coupe to their farm and put it on blocks near the house. His intention, we assumed, was eventually to rebuild the old car and possibly turn it into a street rod. Eddie told us it had a full racing cam. Weeks had gone by, then months, and the car sat untouched but beckoning. Finally, on that hot, summer day, we yielded.

“Do you want to see if we can get Eddie’s old car started?” Mike asked, looking skyward and scratching his head.

“Sure. Why not?” I said. “Uh, when do you think he’ll be getting home?” I added as an afterthought.

“Pretty late.” Mike smiled, and we ambled across the yard toward the waiting temptress.

We began slowly. First, we repaired the worn, old tires with cold tube patches. Most of the tires still had traces of treads on them and appeared to be safe enough for eventual road use. At least, they held air.

Next, we worked on the brakes. I knew nothing about brakes, but Mike seemed to have been born with a working knowledge of things mechanical. “We need to bleed the lines and top off the master cylinder with brake fluid,” Mike said. I pumped the brake pedal while he did the delicate stuff beneath the car. Some of the caliper parts were a bit rusty and required loosening up with the aid of an oil can and more pumping on the brake pedal. All other moving parts, steering wheel, clutch, gears, etc. seemed to be working fine. We topped off the oil level with cans from the recently rebuilt Bakers’ garage. There was one final thing to do before road testing: get the engine running.

“We need to drain the gas tank and put in some fresh gas,” Mike decreed. Draining the tank was not difficult, as I recall. Shuttling gas from Finckley’s with a five gallon gas can wasn’t much harder.

“The spark plugs need to be replaced before we fire it up,” Mike decided after checking to be sure the car had water in the radiator and all belts and hoses were intact. Spark plug replacement required a few days delay until one of us could buy a set at the downtown Firestone store. Mike knew how to set the gap on the plugs, and we were ready to go until we remembered the battery. It had to be dead after sitting up for so long. This assumption proved to be correct.

“Well, hell, we’ll just push-start it,” Mike decided, practicing his newly discovered ability to use profanity. Several days more of patient waiting passed before, at last, nobody was home at the Baker farm. I don’t know where Eddie was during all that time, but he probably had a summer job. Either that or he had not looked at the old car or just didn’t mind getting all this free work done. In any event, nobody asked what we were up to.

When the big day arrived, the two of us dropped the old car off its blocks with the help of a jack. It was gorgeous as we admired it in all its resting glory. The windshield was cracked but still functional, and the absence of doors made the process of push-starting it much simpler. There was no floor, but we could rest our feet on the steel frame while inspecting the ground below. The seat held our weight with no problem. We just had to keep our feet up off the ground and on the frame.

The old beauty rolled out to the blacktop in front of the farm with no problems. Mike got on the side of the steering wheel to push, and I got on the passenger side. Then we started pushing. It took several attempts of pushing and jumping in, dropping the car into second gear and waiting for the roar of success before the old engine coughed to life.

I jumped in on the right, and Mike revved the engine slowly to let the oil circulate and get things loosened up. Then we blasted off.

The blacktop flashed below our feet as trees whipped by and Mike worked through the gears. We both bounced on the old seat and shouted with elation as we gained speed.

“Maybe we should test the brakes,” I suggested when I remembered that the farm road crossed a two-lane highway a short piece down the road. “Good idea,” Mike agreed. He took his foot off the gas pedal and tapped the brakes. Nothing happened.

Mike pressed the brake pedal harder and harder until it finally touched the firewall. Still, we rolled on … toward the highway. We looked at each other with blank stares.

“Can you gear it down?” I asked. Mike downshifted into second then first gear, resulting in a marked reduction of speed. “Wow, that’s a relief,” we agreed. “But how will we stop when we get to the highway?” I asked. There was another moment of silence as we slowly rolled onward in first gear.

“We can kill the switch and leave it in gear,” Mike suggested. This sounded like a good idea but would not work quickly, since we had hot-wired the ignition to get the car started. We knew the highway crossing was getting closer.

“Let’s try stopping it with our feet,” I suggested. “You can let it idle down in first gear, then drop it into neutral and we’ll both drag our feet on the ground,” I said. Mike agreed, and we gave it a test. It worked, but the downhill distance required was just short of a hundred yards. We thought about turning around, but there was not enough room between ditches on the narrow blacktop. So we put the car back into first gear and eased forward, toward the highway.

“When we get to the last curve before the highway,” Mike said, “you jump out and run ahead to the intersection. Check for cars coming and signal if I need to stop. If it’s okay, I’ll gun it and go across. There’s a wide place on the other side where we can turn around.”

“Sounds good,” I said, preparing to exit.

As planned, I jumped out and ran ahead to the highway. There were no cars approaching that I could see. I looked back and gave Mike a vigorous wave to gun it and come on across. The old engine sputtered as he floored the gas pedal and she picked up speed.

I looked back at the highway just in time to see an enormous semi round a distant curve and instantly held up both palms to signal Mike to stop. But he was committed. The old car roared and rolled ahead, black smoke billowing behind.

The semi saw us coming and released an ear-splitting blast that nearly petrified both of us, but the responsiveness of the car was such that I was able to jump back in as it chugged across the intersection ahead of the wall of black smoke. We poured sweat and rocked forward in an effort to gain speed as the big truck roared behind us on the shoulder of the road.

Finally, we walked the car to a stop a little way across the highway and got it turned around for the trip home. We both were pale with shaky hands but put up a solid, carefree front.

“A little closer, and we might have had to stop,” Mike said.

“Yeah, I think so,” I answered.

Returning, there were no cars or trucks on the highway, and the trip home was uneventful.

We pushed the car as close as possible to its previous location and left it there. If Eddie was ever aware that his car had been rehabilitated and driven, we weren’t informed. In any event, we never drove it again.

Maturity Fails Again


One evening, driving home after a long day of fishing down on Caddo, we found ourselves stuck behind a car locked in at forty-five to fifty MPH. The highway was narrow and curvy with few opportunities to pass. Fuming behind the wheel because he had to be home in time to milk the cow, Mike said, “I wish I was driving a police car. I’d pull people like that over and give ‘em a ticket for going too slow.”

That statement started both of us to thinking, and we soon had a solution. Mike already had a spotlight that plugged into the cigarette lighter of his car. All we needed was a way to make it red. It didn’t take us long to find a big piece of red cellophane that fit nicely over the lens of his spotlight. After that, when we found ourselves trapped behind someone going too slow, after dark of course, all we had to do was take out the spotlight and hold it in the center of the windshield while blinking it off and on in just the right sequence. It worked wonderfully.

“Boy-oh-boy,” Mike once said. “Now if we just had us a si-reen!”

Fortunately, we never figured out a way to make a si-reen. Better still, we never got caught for impersonating an officer of the law. But Mike was seldom late getting home to milk the cow after that.

Driving too fast was a vice we experimented with briefly, and we were fortunate in that all we did was total two family cars and put me in the hospital with a broken arm and a concussion. Nobody was killed.

The episode began during an exceptionally slow dove hunt at a water hole one September afternoon. Mike and I were hunting with another friend, Johnny Fitzpatrick, who drove a nice ‘55 two-door Ford hardtop, white over tan. I had ridden out to the water hole with Mike in his family’s ‘53 white Ford.

As we sat swatting mosquitoes, Mike and Johnny began comparing the relative merits of their cars. Soon afterward, we were racing down a gravel road. I was riding shotgun with Mike driving Johnny’s car, and Johnny followed in our cloud of dust.

Topping a hill at something close to lift-off speed, we spotted a curve ahead. Mike hit the brakes a bit too hard, and we slid sideways down the road, my side in front. I remember seeing that we were angling toward the left-hand ditch with the right front tire, and when we hit it the whole world turned into a rolling, slamming, dirt-filled carnival ride. When the car stopped rolling, my side was up. Through the dirt in the air I could see fire in the engine compartment. I tried to climb out the window, but my right arm kept stretching in a funny way and wouldn’t lift me. Mike scrambled over me and out the window then tried to help me escape. Suddenly the world went black. Johnny had caught up with us and didn’t even have time to hit his brakes before slamming into his own overturned car.

My companions assumed I was trapped in the inferno that used to be Johnny’s Ford, and Mike ran nearly two miles back up the road to the nearest house where he called for an ambulance, fire trucks and police. When the emergency vehicles came up the road, they ignored Mike’s waving arm, and he had to run all the way back to the wreck. I had been found unconscious in a ditch, where I was thrown when the cars collided. Luckily, I was the only one with significant injuries. Both cars were totaled, and I hunted ducks that fall with a cast on my arm.

Maturity Gets a Grip


Mike’s granddad was partially responsible for our early interest in smoking. He stayed with the Bakers for awhile in his twilight years, and he smoked a pipe almost constantly. Entering the den where Grandpa spent most of his time was like passing through an aromatic cave. He smoked Half and Half pipe tobacco, and to this day, I don’t think there is a better-smelling tobacco in the world.

Back then, pipe smoking was much more popular than it is today. Pipes were on display at the checkout counter of every drug store and in most grocery stores. Medico, Dr. Grabow, and Kaywoodie were the brands I recall best. Over the span of a couple of years, Mike and I acquired and learned to smoke several models of each, but the Kaywoodies were “top of the line”.

Cigarettes were popular too, but nothing could compete with the taste and aroma of a briar full of Half and Half while sitting in a duck blind or cross-legged on the cold ground beside a cozy campfire.

We became adept at hiding these vices from parents, or at least we thought so. Pipes and tobacco could easily be hidden beneath spare line and other stuff in our tackle boxes, and a pack of Winston fit perfectly inside a metal Band-Aid box. In a pinch, we could roll our own with cigarette papers and the ever-present Half and Half. Zippo lighters didn’t require explanation because all the boys carried one. They were like the pocket knife and piece of string all of us “outdoorsmen” kept in our pockets. A guy had to be prepared for anything.

Eventually, we both quit cigarettes. It was obvious to us even before the government declared it to be a fact that those things were bad for your health. But to this day, I still enjoy putting a match to an occasional bowl of slightly damp Half and Half.

Some might say I’m lucky to be alive.

As Time Goes By


            Mike’s family moved to Dallas just before our senior year in high school. Before that happened, we focused virtually all our extracurricular time on activities down on Caddo. We partnered in the purchase of an old sixteen foot cypress boat from “Crip”, who owned and operated “Crip’s Camp” down at The Lake, as we called it. Crip’s Camp is still there, but Crip drowned in the late fifties while duck hunting.

We kept the boat locked up at a public landing next door to the local game warden’s house. When we fished or hunted ducks, Mike’s new seven-and-a-half Evinrude planed it nicely, but it was far too water-logged and heavy to trailer to any other location, even if we had owned a trailer.

I remember fondly the soft, hollow clunk of a paddle inadvertently bumping the side of our boat as we sculled quietly through cypress-studded ponds at the lake. Mostly, we fished for bass or crappie while pipes dangled from the corners of our mouths. It was the quintessence of tranquility. We caught some fish too.

But all good things come to an end, as the saying goes. After Mike moved to Dallas our ambitions and the glamour of operating a boat and bait shop, homesteading in Alaska, or roaming as rangers through the great forests of the West all seemed to lose their luster alongside the glitter of new opportunities and ambitions.

After graduation from high school, Mike joined the U.S. Navy and I struggled through my first year of college. We were to meet at other times and other places for additional adventures, although they never compared with those we shared in our youth.

What happened to those early ambitions and ideas? Well, I guess they just faded away and finally disappeared in some foggy hinterland known as childhood dreams.   

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