I have a cousin named David. He’s Dave now. He is exactly 6 months younger than me. That always seemed significant to me for some reason. There is a picture taken in my Grandparent’s living room at Christmas of 1958. My mother is holding me, and my Aunt is standing next to us, obviously with child.
David was my best friend throughout my childhood. He lived in a small town an hour away from my house. We went there often, but I especially remember the summers. When you are a ten year old boy in Iowa the days are 1000 hours long, the sky is the bluest blue, and everything else is deep green.
We did a lot of fun things together then. We hunted frogs in the creeks with our bow and arrows. We shot his BB gun. We rode horses through the lanes and fields. His family lived in town at first, but they moved to a small farm. They called it an acreage. They had horses and sheep and chickens. There was a barn and a woods we called the timber. In the fall we hunted pheasants and rabbits and quail.
Once when we were shooting BB’s at a bottle on the fence by the garden David went up to look at the bottle. His back was to me, and I shot him in the butt with the BB gun. Another time we were frog hunting. There was a long concrete culvert under the highway. We had to squat down a little, but we used it to get to the other side where there was a pond. There were long bolts sticking down from the top, and David gouged his back on one. It seemed to really hurt him. I started laughing pretty hard until he got turned around and was trying to shoot an arrow at me.
His Dad was my Uncle Tom. Tom was a really cool guy. He took us to the High School and taught us to drive in a really old truck. I think it was a Ford, with a Mercury engine. One morning before church Tom, already dressed in his suit and wing tip shoes walked out to the garden with his .22 rifle. There were raccoons caught in Muskrat traps we had put out the night before between the rows of sweetcorn. Tom capped them, standing there in his wingtips. I love that memory.
They were members at the local Country Club. It had a pool, and we swam there a lot. Tom took us golfing there too. The greens were oiled sand. After you hit on, you marked your ball. Then you took a steel roller that lay by each green and rolled a path along the line of your putt. Then you placed your ball and putted on the smooth path.
David is an enterprising individual. He had a paper route. He trapped Muskrats in the winter. He raised lambs into sheep, and chicks into hens. It seemed like he always had chores to do before we could run. I loved his life.
We were going to grow up and go on a safari to Africa and kill all kinds of big game. We didn’t do that. My Mom moved to Michigan, and later David went away to college far away. Then we had families and life happened. We have spent some small and sporadic times together over the years, but not enough. Always good, but too short.
I will never forget that place in time though.