In the summer of 1939 or 1940, two of my friends and I were playing around the storage building out behind the church house, climbing in and out of the coal bin, which didn't have a roof. Getting tired of that, we checked out the outhouses which were open all the time and read the poetry and such written on the walls in the men's side: "here I sit, all brokenhearted. . .etc." We had a good laugh from the gross humor and went looking around the locked storage area of the building where extra chairs and such were stored. Noticing under the eaves a bird's nest with a couple of young sparrows or finches in it, my companions boosted me up to take a good look. I reached into the nest and picked up one of the young tweeters that had grown feathers. The problem with this was, the nest was alive with lice and they started crawling up my arm by the hundreds. I dropped to the ground quick and started brushing them off and running toward home. I told my mother I had lice real bad. I took off my shirt and she doused my upper limbs and under arms with kerosene until she couldn't see anymore lice. She told me to go to the canal and wash off the kerosene before I catch on fire. We ran to the canal, where we stood on the bank and I cleaned myself up with fresh water from the stream, one of my friends helping me.
While we were washing off the kerosene, one friend wandered away. We started looking for him and found him floating in the middle of the canal, belly down and head under water. My cousin (the other friend) ran across the canal on a flume and tried to reach him from the bank, but he was too far out in the stream. Fifty yards downstream there was a log across the canal which was used by kids cutting through the fields to attend school. I ran as fast as I could and got in the center of the log where I was able to catch the boy by the shirt collar and arm and hold him until my cousin could help me drag him to the bank. We laid him belly down in the dirt by an old barn wall. He was unconscious, so we decided to push down on his back and ribs to push out the water he had consumed. Luckily, this worked as water started to come out of his mouth. After a couple of minutes, he coughed up some more water and started to get his color back. He laid there a while before he suddenly sat up and thanked us for saving him from drowning. He said he had slipped and fell in and couldn't regain his footing. He rose to his feet finally and said he was going home but wouldn't tell his mother about his narrow escape because she would give him a whipping. He was killed by a horse later on, at least that was what I was told. I never saw my cousin or him again after we moved away.
I didn't get along well with this boy who nearly drowned. He was always hanging around the schoolyard, because his mother told him to go play to get him out of the house. He was an only child, and his widowed mother had a lot of visitors, mainly men. My father hinted one time that she "could make a little money that way," but I didn't understand it at the time. One summer, this kid was playing around the schoolyard and we got into an argument and commenced to discuss the problem physically instead of mentally. I threw him on the ground a couple of times and told him to leave me alone. This got tiresome, so I took off running to get away from him. He caught up with me and I threw him down again and sat on him to teach him a lesson. I got up and started walking away. He tackled me from behind, and before I could turn over he was sitting on my shoulders holding my head between his knees. Try as I might, I couldn't dislodge him. So, I had to give up in disgrace. He finally got off me and took off for home. My ego was a little bruised, so I went home and told my mother about it. She wasn't too sympathetic, saying, "You shouldn't be fighting anyway!"