I was not a totally undisciplined child, but there were times when temptations became too great, and opportunities for misbehavior were too plentiful. Rarely did I succeed with any of my misadventures, thanks to my sister Nancy, who always seemed to be there with her watchful eye and tell-tale tongue.
Mother was good-natured about most of my escapades, and I believe there were times she grew weary of the informant and wanted to shoot the messenger. Nevertheless, Nancy could be counted on to convey the information in the most damaging way for me. She may have been one of the very first spin-doctors. I suppose mothers are never too excited about all the middles disappearing from a whole box of Oreo cookies, or trampled flower beds from an epic clash of Viking invaders. My misdeeds were rarely of an important nature.
Boys have a fascination with guns, and I was no exception. My policeman uncle knew of my interest when I ambushed him from behind, leaped onto his back, and tried to pull the gun from his holster. Suffice to say, he knocked me into next week and averted tragedy. Many lectures and punishment followed, but my interest in weaponry remained, which leads me to my next episode.
The big trouble came when I decided to squirt the postman with my water pistol. Hiding behind an evergreen shrub, I waited for the mail truck to putter up to our box with the daily delivery. Since he always had to lean down and out from the truck doorway to deposit the mail, he would be an easy target. Just as he reached to open the mailbox door, I opened fire with the icy water hitting him on his left cheek. The target was neutralized. Startled, he looked around for his attacker. I was safely concealed in and behind the bush. Success! The truck moved along, and as I turned to exit my position it was my turn to be startled. The informant and her ever-watchful eyes had observed the entire incident from our porch. As she entered the house, I knew my fate would now be sealed with her over-dramatized version of my conduct. Especially, after the event with my uncle. She had a way of telling Mother things with that “how dare you not punish him” tone.
The verdict was confinement to the yard for the rest of the day. The punishment was bearable, but watching Nancy ride her bicycle up and down the street was more than I could endure. She seemed to be flaunting her freedom at me.
The idea came to me in an instant when I saw the old broom lying on the ground, and the informant speeding towards me down the street. I grabbed the broom and stood poised, as if holding a spear, ready to get my revenge. As she passed the driveway, I rammed the broomstick between the spokes of her bicycle’s front wheel. Mind you, at the time, I had not considered any laws of physics. The bike soared into the air with Nancy underneath it. To her credit, she did not let go until the impact on the pavement forced her to do so. Luckily for all involved, she was not hurt seriously; although I remember frantic activity, screaming, crying, and a trip to an emergency room for stitches. For me; the only time I remember receiving a severe punishment from both parents which included an old-fashioned paddling.
That day seemed to mark the end of childhood battles between my sister and me. It served, in a way, as the grand finale to our war. As we grew older and entered our high school and college years, we became friends. We developed a close relationship that continues to this day, and I cherish having her in my life.