Darl D. Dovenspike
Editted and formatted by his daughter,
Barbara D. Michel
School was out for the summer. All five boys hurried toward Redbank Creek, stripped and raced for the water.
“Last one in is a big fat potato bug!”
This is a true four-season slice-of-life story from the early teen years of five Redbank Valley boys during the 1920’s. There were no computers, electronic games, cell phones or many other conveniences that we take for granted today. This meant that boys had to make their own fun. And this they did!
Chores include mowing grass, forking manure and working in the gardens. For fun, they might hike to a nearby farm to pick fruit, ignore danger and scale Stonewall to carve their initials or go skinny dipping in Redbank Creek. Also, they enjoy fishing, playing water games and building a raft. Intrigue lures them into investigating the mystery surrounding a haunted house.
Maybe you would like to build your own squawk box or go skinny-dipping in Redbank Creek. Word of caution: There are a lot more people and traffic now. You can do it all! Just take a trip through the 1920’s with Darl, Dusty, Jay, Frank and Al.
If you have a question CLICK HERE and fill out form with your inquiry.
FIVE PEAS IN A POD
Darl D. Dovenspike
Prepared for Publication by his daughter, Barbaras D. Michel
“School’s out!” Dusty let out a whoop.
As we walked up Brookville Street, we other four fellows in the gang joined in the glee and tossed our caps into the air. I glanced down over the railroad tracks at Redbank Creek and grinned. “Hey! We ought to celebrate.”
Dusty swiped a lock of his dark hair from his forehead and peered at me, his brown eyes questioning. “Celebrate?”
“Yeah. The last day of school. We all passed and we’re happy.”
Jay poked his brother’s shoulder. “Darl’s right. We passed! Let’s celebrate.”
Al’s dark brows rose. “How are we gonna celebrate?”
I scratched my head as I watched Redbank flow southward. “Let’s go swimming!”
Al, Jay and Dusty silently gawked at the creek.
Frank stared at me, his blue eyes wide. “You crazy, Darl? Look how high the water is.”
I shrugged. “We’ve been in the creek before when the water’s high. It’s clear. The sun’s shining. It’s warm, and I think it would be great to take the first dip of summer.”
Frank shook his head. “It’s only April, Darl. It won’t be summer for two months!”
I figured my friends would follow me. I increased my pace.
“I’m not going to be outdone.” Dusty hurried after me, but glanced over his shoulder. “What about you, Brother?”
“I’m not gonna be left behind.” Jay joined him.
“Okay.” Al tromped along behind. “Count me in, too.”
Frank said nothing, as though he were thinking.
At East Main Street, now called 2nd Main, instead of turning left toward our homes, I veered right and headed down the little hill toward Brookville Street, which is Route 28. Three of my friends followed, but Frank turned up the hill and strode toward his home.
“Hey, Frank!” Dusty yelled. “Where are ya going? School’s only been out for an hour. You starting your blockhead stuff already?”
“Yeah.” Jay chuckled. “You backing out?”
“No! I’m going home to get my swimsuit.”
“You better think, Frank,” I said. “If we go home to get our suits, we’ll be told it’s too early. It’s too cold.”
“Right!” Dusty piped up. “And they’ll have chores for us.”
Al nodded. “Yep. Dad said this morning that the henhouse needed the manure forked out and new straw put in nests and scattered on the floor.” He shrugged. “George will help, but he expects me to do my share. I will, but I wanna swim first.”
“Our hens are sitting pretty.” I grinned. “I cleaned our henhouse last week.”
Al gazed at the creek. “Let’s get moving. I wanna jump into old Redbank.”
Jay chuckled. “Getting wet won’t take very long.”
Frank shrugged. “Okay. No suit.”
Dusty headed down the hill. “We don’t use our suits much anyway, except to hang on a limb in case somebody comes.”
With a woof, Curly, my collie, raced from my yard and scampered down the road. He usually watched for me to come home from school, then race to greet me. I gave him a pat. He loved to swim. He acted as though he knew where we were headed.
We hurried to the railroad tracks, went down over the hill and across a flat field to our favorite old swimming hole where we’d learned to swim. A second swimming hole was at Stonewall. The third one we liked was where the pottery land joined the stream. We had another great swimming location under the old trestle that used to cross Redbank and go to the old Mudlick mine.
So that you can picture the five of us, I’ll say that Frank was the shortest of the group. He and Jay had medium brown hair and blue eyes. Al was the tallest and had dark hair and eyes. Dusty had dark hair and brown eyes. I was the slimmest with dark hair and blue eyes.
I reached the edge of the creek first and gazed into the water. “It’s clear, but it’s really high.”
“It usually is in April.” Jay joined me on the shore. “I can count the stones at the bottom.”
“Yeah, but . . .” Frank frowned. “Without getting wet, we can’t get down to the willow trees where we undress and hang our clothes.”
I glanced up the hill. Four houses were in view. The leaves were still small. “These bushes don’t offer us much cover. We could be spotted if we aren’t cautious.”
“Yep.” Al took off his shirt. “I’m gonna leave my clothes up here on the bank.”
Frank nodded. “If I get my trousers wet or muddy, Mom will know that I’ve been messing around Redbank.”
“Yeah. Jay and me, too!” Dusty laughed. “I don’t want our plum tree to lose a branch so early in the spring.” He reached to his backside and groaned. “Grandma doesn’t seem to care how many switches she breaks off.”
“Celebration or not, I don’t want to feel a switch or razor strap, either!” Frank untied his shoes and kicked them aside.
Dusty yelled. “Last one in is a big fat potato bug!”