No, I never got in trouble for coming home crying, though six-year-olds do cry. Sometimes a guy just can’t help it. One of the old wrecks out behind the cabins was a ’37 Chrysler Imperial rusting in the sand. The tires were flat, one door was missing, and the rear window was broken out, but somehow there was a spark of life left in that old battery, a discovery I made in a particularly painful way.
The battered hulk was a great place to play, of course, presenting any number of possibilities for games and adventures. It was, at various times, a police car, the crooks’ getaway car, a Sherman tank, and a pile buck’s steam shovel. And sometimes it was just an old car that was fun to explore. During one exploration, I was poking around in the glove compartment and fiddling with the knobs on the dashboard while Rick and Wayne jumped on the rear seat, and Skippy and Shorty lay in the shade next to the car. One of the knobs I had already pushed and turned clicked, popped, and stuck out of the dash a bit. I had seen one of those, of course, in Uncle Ernie’s Dodge. It was the cigarette lighter.
I pulled it from the dashboard and looked at its business end. It wasn’t glowing like Uncle Ernie’s did, so I figured it was broken like most everything else. Just to be sure it wasn’t working, I touched the tip of my right index finger to the grayish coil inside the lighter. Ouch! There was enough juice left in the old battery to heat the coil so it raised quite a blister on my finger and proved my point about six-year-olds. Screeching as only a little kid can, I dashed for the house, the dogs chasing me, and Rick and Wayne chasing them. Mom and Auntie Honey met me halfway when they heard my screams, thinking I’d been snakebit or something worse.
Our moms were extremely calm when any of these childhood accidents occurred, which was a good trait while riding herd on a pack of boys. It must have had something to do with them living through World War II in occupied Holland, but that’s another story. I found myself scooped up and hauled into the house, ice applied to the end of my blistered finger, then comforted and rocked on Mom’s lap. Soon, with my tears dried, a Band-aid on my finger, and an RC Cola in my belly, I was ready to face the wild outdoors of Heise Station once again.
Mom removed the cigarette lighters from both old wrecks.
Next Week: Don’t Miss the Barnyard Rodeo!