I learned to drink, spit and cuss from one family group, ok the spitting I can’t blame on anyone. The first summer we lived in Higbee
, we were babysat by a neighbor girl. I say babysat, but that was a pretty loose term considering what we learned! Colorado
The family of the neighbor girl (we’ll call them the Whites’), really put the fun in dysfunctional. Both of the parents, looking back now, were alcoholics. There are probably plenty of stories I could write about them, but I think we will stay away from some of them (like Johnny Cash said, “You don’t write everything”). Besides the daughter that was the official babysitter (Debbie), they had two boys (Bar and Dwayne) and an older daughter (Kathy). Initially I think Debbie had good intentions, but once Cully and I started running around with the boys….all that went out the window.
Bar and Dwayne were our age and a little older, and a whole lot more worldly then we were. We traveled all over the countryside getting into trouble. We were never mean, just had a lot of time to think of “growing up boy things” to get into trouble over.
Both Bar and Dwayne fancied themselves as bull riders, so if we could pen up the bull at any time…we ran him through the chute and strapped a bull rope on him. Of course, I don’t think he ever bucked much; so we usually supplied some incentive, most of the time this was a cattle prod going out the gate. If we couldn’t catch the bull, we would catch horses and put a bareback rigging on them. We would ride them backwards, by that I mean, we would strap the bareback rigging around their flanks. Boy, they would buck like crazy! They also had a jenny (her name was Jenny, surprised?) that, at first, would buck normally. We could ride her facing forward. BUT, after a whole summer of that, she started biting as you were trying to get on. I suppose that is what taught me to mount up in a hurry. If you were slow with getting on, she would try to take a hunk out of your backside. I think all four of us had black and blue cheeks on both sides; and I don’t mean the ones on our faces!
They had a 60’s model pickup that had four different sized tires, it moved like a three legged dog; it sort of drifted all over the road! One of the boys’ jobs was to keep a water tank filled on one of their pastures. We would load as many 55 gallon drums in the back of that truck as we could, fill them with water and head to the pasture. It was probably less than a mile, but with four wild boys that trip sometimes took most of the day. Bar would drive that truck as fast as it would go and the rest of us would hang on for dear life. We had a ball!
We also helped them put up hay that summer. What an experience! They put us three younger boys (Bar was 14 or 15. It was Cully, Dwayne and I; with me being the youngest at probably 8 or so) in a smaller field and told us to pick up hay in the pickup. We would put the truck in granny and let it idle down the field while we tried to throw bales in and to get them stacked before the pickup got to the end of the row. It was at those times, when we were off by ourselves, that we started our one and only summer experiment with drinking. Seems we always had the ice chest and there was never a shortage of alcohol in it. So, naturally, we tried a little of everything. I don’t think we were ever drunk, because we thought everything we tasted was pretty nasty. But, we sampled everything!
Sometimes the darker side of the White family came out. Actually anytime there was booze involved things usually ended up in a fight. I can remember Bear (the dad) and Big Kathy (the mom) getting into a fight and actually throwing things at each other. Not little things like plates, those were saved for fights at the house; but hammers, jacks and shovels. It was like nothing I had ever experienced! I remember once, during a morning hangover, Bar and Dwayne got into a fight in their bedroom. They were hollering, cussing and banging into things as they wrassled around, really being loud. Big Kathy was awakened by this little tussle, and was in a bad mood! She grabbed a hanger and came into the bedroom. She started beating everybody that moved with that hanger. Cully and I were frozen, we had never seen anything like that. We had gotten spankings before, but had never seen a beating like that! Bar and Dwayne were the only ones who had been beaten, but it scared the crap out of us! We headed outside, where they started laughing about the whole thing! Like it was the norm!
Looking back, those kids probably ended up just like their parents. I hope not, but that family situation was a terrible place to be raised. All that summer, Mom and Dad started seeing the fruits of being around that family. We never told them anything because we were having too much fun! Once the summer was over, they decided that we were better off staying by ourselves. So we never had a babysitter again!