As we grow older we tend to enjoy reminiscing with our friends, reliving experiences which seem to be even more enjoyable in the reliving of them than they were in the first place. If one is possessed of a pretty good memory of things long gone, it should be seen as a blessing. But if there is nobody to remember it with it isn’t much fun. It’s downright annoying and sad. If you relate your experiences to young people, they are bored and think you were crazed or surely sub-human to actually have enjoyed the things we did. After all, when was the last time you saw boys crossing a field of young pine trees, swinging from tree top to tree top, never touching the ground? You probably haven’t. Boys can’t do those things and carry their smart phones or ipads, and they have more intellectual things to do – mainly having to do with those phones and ipads. People your own age don’t remember, and people older than you aren’t interested, in addition to not remembering. There is another side to the coin, however. If nobody recalls the event, it offers a grand opportunity to embellish the truth to fit one’s preferences or to make the tale more exciting, and there is nobody to call you down on it. I refer to “enhancing” the truth a little, not altering it in any major way.
I lost a friend from childhood a few years ago. Sam Cowan was my age. As he lived next door on top of the hill at the corner of O’Kelley and Scott Streets we often walked to school together. That gave us the opportunity to plan our after school adventure of the day.
Sam’s dad, Mr. Rufus Cowan, was an avid fox hunter, and always kept a pack of fox hounds in a large fenced-in area at the corner. Sam’s dad also bought dog biscuits for his hounds in 100 pound croker sacks, which he stored in a back yard shed.
During the years while WWII raged in Europe and the Pacific islands Sam and I were well primed on the weapons of that era. Occasionally we had grenades made of potatoes with firecrackers in them to carry along with our BB guns when we went on “patrol” in nearby fields and woods. I don’t recall our ever having lost a single “fire-fight” with Germans or Japanese. We were that good. If the patrol was going to be a long one, we went to Mr. Cowan’s shed and filled our pockets with “rations”. The dog biscuits of that day were made of stuff you would not feed your dog today, and wouldn’t want your dog to eat it. Certainly there were no regulations whatsoever as to what could be put into them. But Sam had discovered that they made good “rations” in that they were virtually indestructible, carried in the pocket. Sam said they tasted “not bad”. I tried one and agreed. We were set for the duration of the war, with a shed full of rations just waiting for us and the hounds. We were aware of the WWII boredom with rations, whether C-rations or K rations. After surviving for a few hours on our rations of dog biscuits, we could relate to the G.I.’s problem and declared that it was time to get back to our own lines. The main objection we had to our rations was that they had a gosh-awful bitter after-taste that cloyed to the palate for hours. There is no telling what created that. In the words of the a popular song from that era, “I wonder, I wonder, I wonder; but I really don’t want to know”