I took a walk with Judy the other day. As we walked a path here in Bend, we came across a large pile of metal. It looked to me as a few small kids had taken the small pile up as their fort. As I looked at the pile of scraps, memories flooded into my mind of a time long ago when a few small creative boys had used something similar to create a world of their own.
The very large pile consisted of old stumps that had been pulled from the ground after the area had been logged. I believe the stumps had been pulled to leave more room in the ground for other tall pines to spread their roots and assist them in growing larger.
Amongst the twisted limbs that once brought nourishment to old growth ponderosa pines, four or five young explorers found caves and caverns to explore. A rather large gap towards the center became the club house of a newly formed society....The Ground Hogs.
The Ground Hogs consisted of my two brothers, Rudy and Marvin and, I believe, two other neighbor boys, David Nelson and Gilbert Pickens. I was the youngest and smallest and so don't remember much of the inner structure of the society. I just felt very fortunate and proud to be a part of it being much younger than the others.
Other severed limbs of the old processed trees were salvaged into weapons that we used to protect our fort from invading armies. Our shirts, pants, and shoes along with our scalps and faces were covered with the dirt that still held to the old roots.
We really must have looked a sight. Especially when we marched on the town of Gilchrist. Our fortress was located just off of a small access road that tied one of the upper streets of Gilchrist to the logging roads on the hill above it.
With our weapons resting on our shoulders and marching in step (I took up the rear), the Ground Hogs descended on the town.
As we entered the street with the brown houses lining the sides of our road much like invaders entering a conquered town, we marched. And then began our chant:
"We are the Ground Hogs
Dirty Dirty Ground Hogs
Hip Hip Ground Hogs
Hip Hip Dirty Dogs".
As I remember back on that time some fifty years ago or so, I wonder about the reasons that it so embedded itself in my memory and just how much the others remember it. I am sure that part of the reason that the memory is so precious to me is because being the youngest, I wasn't always as welcome in the older boys play (David was nearly twice my age). As a matter of fact, the only other real memory of Dave in my mind was the first time that I drank a Coca Cola. We were all down at the store and someone bought us all Cokes. I took a big swallow of the sparkling dark liquid and my eyes immediately began to water. Dave laughed and told me that I was going to have to grow into more of a man before I would be able to drink this stout beverage like the rest of the men....er boys.
Anyway, those are memories that will forever be embedded in my brain and from time to time will surface as they did the other day when visions of things in front of me bring them back in a sort of deja vu.