Incident in the barn

  Lee Decatur and I are good friends. We often go fishing or pal around together. Lee is 10 years older than me. His childhood memories are a hoot. This is a story Lee recently told me. I asked him to write it down for me.

Incident in the barn

Lee, left, and his brother Pete driving their homemade buggy 1948
Lee, left, and his brother Pete driving their homemade buggy 1948. Photo provided

Kids will be kids, now and forever. This is an antidote of an incident that took place in 1946 in my house. The characters are my mom, my Dad, my older brother, and I.

It was a sunny spring afternoon in Kingston, N.H. where I grew up. I was 5 years old. My older brother Pete was 13 months older than me and my younger brother Forrest was 2. Mom was going to a Rebecca’s meeting early one afternoon and left my father in charge of the three of us. Dad was a country doctor, one who would go to Exeter Hospital for his morning rounds, be home for lunch at noon, have office hours in the house in the afternoon, and go on house calls in the evening. The man was probably tired most of the time.

On this particular afternoon, brother Forrest was napping as usual, as was my Dad. Dad had a local carpenter, a Mr. Lissard, building book cases, four of them about four feet wide and six feet high, for the upstairs hall – two of the bookcases are at camp now. He used the attached barn for a workplace, and he had just finished putting the last coat of white paint on them. With Dad asleep, my older brother thought that it would be a good idea to help Mr. Lissard with his project. He had me accompany him to the barn where he opened one of the flat white cans of paint and took a brush and began to paint and invited me to join him.

Now, this was shortly after the war and automobiles were hard to get. Dad being a doctor managed to find a new black 1946 Mercury four-door, and it was only a few months old at this time. It was also parked about six feet from the bookcases.

You think you see it coming, don’t you? Well, you are partly right. Pete thought that the car needed some paint also. So we went to work on it.

After a bit, Pete realized the error of his ways. In order to switch blame for this deed, he went to a sliding door that covered the entryway to the horse stalls and went to work in painting the name “LEE” in foot high letters. He thought that was a wonderful plan.

Then he took me through the living room, past the napping Dad, to the cellar door, and went down the stairs to the kerosene barrel where we proceeded to wash up with the foul smelling stuff, and then we returned upstairs to find my mother back from her meeting and Dad now wide awake.

Smelling the kerosene on us, they quizzed us on our activities, and we were found out. Dad spent the next few hours taking the fresh paint off his car. Later, when quizzed about it, Pete told them that it was my idea and he could prove it – my name was on the stable door. Dad was very mad that Pete would do such a thing and blame it on me. He told Pete that it couldn’t have been me because I couldn’t spell my own name. I was only 5 and in those days most kids didn’t learn to spell their names until first grade at 6 years old.

After my brother Forrest died in 2018, I took some time to go to the house I grew up in to look to see if the name was still there. It wasn’t. The gentleman who was the present owner said that he “took the door down a few years ago because it was in such bad shape” and replaced it with a new one. I had a nice visit with him. The house now has three or four apartments in it, only 3.5 acres of land with it instead of the 24 when I grew up there. Time moves on and things change as little as they should.

If you have any fun memories or stories of growing up you’d like to share, ring me up.

  This week’s old saying: “The world is your cow, but you have to do the milking.”

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