Monday, May 16, 2016

IED....What Wall Guard?

            Having children has always been a bit like living with an IED in the closet.  In an instant, they might implode in an irrational self destructive adventure . Granted--some chidren are more reserved than others-not me.
          I was latch key 9 year old.  Actually, I don’t think I had a key—people didn’t lock their doors in the 1950s. Despite the ever present terror of the Reds dropping bombs on us and thereby ending the world, things felt pretty safe. I did develop a fear of airplanes.  Anytime I heard one overhead, I was sure it was the Russians coming to drop an atomic bomb.  At school, in case we had a warning about said bomb’s imminent arrival, we practiced the march to the railroad tracks. We were told "in the event the Russians come, you will be marched to the railorad tracks where you will be loaded onto boxcars and taken to a safe place." Safe place? Where would our parents be? If that weren't bad enough, we actually practiced this maneuver. We were further instructed that, in the event of said bombing, if we couldn’t make it to the train tracks, we were to hide under our desks when the bomb was dropped. Duck and cover! What a way to scare the hell out of a bunch of kids. 
        I digress. 
      We lived in an old frame house with no central heating or airconditioning. In the kitchen, we had a coal burning, pot-bellied stove that stood about a foot from the wall.  This was used for heating. Regrettably, if you sat stove side you roasted; sitting on the other side of the table, your back froze.  
           One afternoon Thelma, my slightly older sidekick, suggested that we toast marshmallow over the stove. She regularly came up with  ideas that got me on the wrong side of parental approval. but,  it seemed like a shame that we never used the stove for anything more exciting than attempted climate control.  I said yes. 
           An available fire source and unattended kids, what could have possibly gone wrong? I knew Mama wouldn't like it, but, I figured we would be done before she got home from work. 
           We built a roaring fire and commenced with the toasting.   Mama arrived while we were munching on our marshmallows.  She shrieked…  “Hell's Bells--what are you doing. Are you trying to do burn the house down? Why didn’t you put up the wall guard, what is wrong with you...” 
“Wall guard—what’s a wall guard?” I asked. 
           The festivities were suspended. The 1950s might have been safe, that is, unless you had too crazy kids home alone.

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