Saturday, September 6, 2008


While riding my lawn mower around and around the yards today I had time to reflect on my life and those who helped shape it. Today my thoughts turned to my brothers, Emery and Bruce. Emery is the oldest of us three brothers and I am the youngest, so that puts Bruce in the middle. Bruce and Emery are closer in age and in our youth they palled with our two cousins who were near their ages and two neighbors of similar ages. Emery, Billy and Ron were the three leaders because of their age, and Emery seemed to be the overall leader because, I guess, he was a natural leader. Bruce, Chuck and Dick were the younger followers and I, almost four years younger than any of the others, was an unwanted follower. When we all lived on the east side of Bend there weren't any kids near my age and I wanted to go on the adventures my older siblings always had. I would usually whine and tell Ma and she would make them take me along on their forays to Pilot Butte or Porcupine Butte. Usually they would wait until we were well out of sight of Ma and then tell me to get lost and if I told Ma they would beat me up. So, I would follow them at a distance until they out paced me and I would find a place to play by myself until they returned from their wonderful treks into the vast sagebrush and Juniper wasteland east of East 8th Street. They would talk about throwing rocks at a big Jack Rabbit or trying to catch a lizard they had seen among the rocks. Starting in 1942, I think, there were US Army troops practicing desert warfare in our playground. Visiting the soldier's bivouacs was the one time that the bigger kids would let me come along, I think because I was a cute little snot nosed kid and the soldiers would give us chocolate bars. The day finally came, around the end of WW II, when I was allowed to go along on one of their treks. We climbed Pilot Butte! Straight up the trail! I thought I was going to die. I had to take two steps to their one and they didn't slow down for me. They would stop and let me catch up and when I did, they started out again. I knew I was going to die. They did find Jack Rabbits to throw rocks at, but the rabbit was long gone by the time I caught up with the rest of the troop. After that trip, I wasn't nearly so anxious to join the big kids forays out into the High Desert of Central Oregon. Now, of course, our vast playground is covered with homes and businesses. Porcupine butte is just a rockpile across the street from Pilot Butte Middle School and St Charles Medical Center is north-east of Pilot Butte.
Bruce and his wife live beyond Tooth Acres, the home of a Dentist in our youth and about the limit of our treks. The trail straight up Pilot Butte is still there, but I believe it is blocked off to prevent erosion of the cinder cone.

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