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Boom boomlet

August 25, 2013

August 23, 2013 @ 3:34 pm

 

The soldiers came home from service in WW II in 1945.  They wasted no time having children.  My friends and I were in the larger, subsequent waves of children.  The ones of 1946 in Missoula Montana were the “big kids.”  Well, they were almost twice our size and years older than us by the time we were aware of our existence.  Our neighborhood–Missoula–had never seen so many young parents with kids until then.  At least not in recorded history.

We all had 2 parents because our dads had not started dying from cancer and heart disease.  Likewise none of our parents had divorced.  Yet.  At least while we were still in grade school.

Most of us were born in 1950, give or take a year.  The GIs and their brides, having reproduced hesitantly at first in 1946, were ready to make some babies in quantity in a few more years, so our classroom was crowded and our teacher, Mrs. Jay, complained that she had too many of us.  More than 30.  She harangued us for having so many classmates.  She told us she was depressed and drank.  Maybe she was kidding, but I knew she was angry.  We responded by making huge amounts of noise whenever she left the classroom.

On the other hand the neighborhood block where we found ourselves was thick with kids our age with just enough big kids to show us what not to do.  That was our reality.  We talked about sex, mostly, but the big kids didn’t know the answers to our questions.  Most of our games were some variation of war.  (Johnny Gaul, of course, was into team sports and he was Catholic.  His father had been in two branches of the military and had directed his kids away from playing war.  Funny how those who know the most about war also despise it.)

One summer my friend across the alley, well, almost directly across, had a huge pile of dirt in his backyard when I went over to visit.  It just appeared there.  I think his dad brought dirt in to put in a lawn.  In the meantime we found the dirt good for digging; the big kids were not content to make roads for little toy cars, no, they dug a pit and ran a tunnel about 20 feet.  Actually they dug a pit with a trench, covered the trench with boards, then put dirt on top of everything.  Like a bunker, it had little pieces of wood sticking out of the walls with birthday candles for light.  I remember jumping through the tractor tire that formed the rim of the pit, then scrambling back to the rear of the tunnel.  Some damn mishap caused a parent to fill in our bunker, but not before Ronny, the big kid across the alley, gave me some tobacco rolling papers.  He didn’t tell me what they were originally for, but he said I could write notes on the little pages.  

 

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