Even as a child, I loved digging in the dirt. In our hometown of Covington, Okla., my best boyhood friends, Calvin Redwine and Joe Rouser, and myself loved to dig tunnels. Our tunnels were small trenches covered with boards and then dirt. We dug these tunnels from under my dad’s garage floor to a cave we had previously dug behind the garage. We had a loose board in the garage floor that we could remove to enter the tunnel.
When our dads found out about our tunnel and cave, they determined it wasn’t
safe, so they made us uncover the cave. Then dad brought home a big, 8-foot
round, steel oil-tank top, and placed it over the cave. We covered it over with
dirt and grass, making a big clubroom. We had a hidden backside escape, and
still retained the tunnel under the garage floor. We had a light in the cave
and all the comforts of home.
We dug a hole in the floor of the cave and buried a mini-time capsule. We
placed coins, comic books and other things that kids value in the capsule. The
house, garage and the cave all are gone now, but, to my knowledge, the time
capsule remains there today.
We decided to expand our tunnel-making project, so we went to the abandoned and
rundown local city park. We dug trenches all over the park, and covered them
with boards and dirt. We created vast networks of dark passageways. This worked
fine – that is, until our dads found out. Then they made us uncover the
tunnels. As the years passed, the city restored the park with picnic tables and
added a playground. I’m sure that, to this day, the city can’t figure out why
all those trenches were there.
Our dads always were finding ways to do things with us – and to keep us busy.
They built a four-bunk-bed screen-ed playroom in our backyard so we all could
camp in and keep out the rain and bugs. The bunk beds were made of rope, and
the playroom had a screen door. We slept in it each summer, and our folks knew
where we were at all times.
We built a tree house in a big tree in Calvin’s backyard. Our dads supervised
most of the construction. We had a rope elevator and a ladder to get into it.
We’d have many of our meals up in the tree house. We even built an elevator out
of a pulley, rope, a tub and some rocks. We filled the tub on the ground with
rocks, and tied one end of the rope to it and through the pulley in the tree;
the other end had a sling to sit in. The idea was to get into the sling in the
tree house, and guys on the ground would remove the rocks in the tub until it
started up and the person in the sling started going down. It worked great
until the halfway point, where the sling met the tub of rocks, dumping both the
rocks and the person in the sling. It came down fast, with rocks falling on his
head and on the guys on the ground. It wasn’t a good design and immediately was
With my dad’s help, we built a big kite with a long tail, but we had to use a
small rope as a string. After we got it built, of course we had to see how it
would fly. Porky Senior was running with the rope, while Joe and I were holding
each side of the kite and Calvin, being the smallest, was feeding out the tail.
We were running down the middle of Covington’s Main Street when Calvin got
caught in the tail and started going up with the kite! Dad had to back off, so
Calvin didn’t keep going up with the kite. That project soon was scrapped as
Dad made me a two-wheel trailer for my Cushman motor scooter. When I was nine
or 10 years old, I’d deliver groceries, ice and run errands for people for
money. Calvin, Joe and I also would deliver newspapers door-to-door with the
trailer. The guys would throw the papers from the trailer while I drove the
Back in those days, most dads had the time to play with their kids; today, they
often don’t have that luxury.