thanksgiving, west texas-style
my best friend's mom and my mom had gotten together early that morning in the kitchen at my house to begin cooking up the traditional holiday meal for both of our families. in less than an hour, my pal and i found ourselves both banished from the room.
"you two are in the way of the cooks. shoo! get out of here!"
two houses away laid a railroad track spur. on it sat an empty rail car with its side doors opened wide. he and i hopped aboard the car, sat down in the doorway, and with our pair of legs dangling, sat there trying unsuccessfully to light and smoke a single cigarette which kenneth had pilfered from his mother's purse. we soon gave that up as too difficult and no fun, so we looked for something better to try.
eastward from where we were arose a huge landmark for our town, famous throughout the panhandle of texas: plainview's own harvest queen grain elevator -- the largest collection of silos in the region, so it was said.
on its many rounded sides hung tall and tempting iron ladders, stretching to the sky. kenneth and i agreed it would be fun to climb the edifice, so we took off, heading in that direction.
twenty minutes later, we circled the building, looking for easy access, but none of the ladders were even close to the ground. we failed before getting started.
disappointed but undaunted, we then noticed the city water tower which stood nearby. one-third the height of the harvest queen, it seemed puny by comparison, but it did look like a target we could manage.
the only barrier was a surrounding chain-link fence, which he and i scaled effortlessly. a short run after that and we were climbing at last. i went up first while my pal followed.
the day was sunny and mild when we started.
about half-way up the tower, i noticed the wind began to blow steadily, so i hung on to each rung for dear life, but kept on going. but by the time we reached the top (rather, a narrow walkway which encircled the tower), the temperature had dropped dramatically. we then stood there while clinging to the guardrail, both shivering while gazing down on the town.
shortly, kenneth pointed to a speck on the ground directly below us.
"see that man down there? look how he is waving at us."
so we both waved back at him. what a friendly guy.
but he kept flailing his arms nonstop, which suddenly began to worry us.
"what's he want? he looks upset about something, the way he's acting. i think he wants us to climb down right now."
so we began the slow and foreboding descent.
at the bottom, the excited waving man, who immediately identified himself as an official from the city water department, angrily hauled us both off in his sedan to deposit we young criminals at the downtown police station.
so there we sat and sweated on a wooden bench for several hours, not talking to each other but staring at the floor and expecting the worst.
the hours crept by until our parents showed up, all wearing dreadful looks on their faces. then after a descriptive explanation of our risky trespassing exploits by the police, we two were relieved to be released into their custody.
but as i remember things, the remainder of that day was not a very thankful one for either kenneth or me.