Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Robin Hood

I used to read comic books when I was growing up. Like many kids my age I had quite a large stack of them. I was a paper boy and on Friday nights when I was out collecting the money, I would always drop down to Meister's drug store, eat copious amounts of junk food, play pinball for an hour or so and peruse the comic shelf for the newest edition of Superman or the Flash or perhaps Metal Men. The back page of comics always had an ad for something like Charles Atlas who could build your body to be the envy of all the other guys, thus preventing getting bullied, or my all time favorite ad- X-ray specs. I desperately wanted a pair of those.The ad led you to believe that you could see right through clothes with a pair of these. As a young lad entering puberty, I couldn't think of a better gift to give myself, but they cost a dollar, and I didn't believe they would really work, regardless of how much I wished they did. Boy's Life magazine, which was affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America, had more realistic ads on their back page. The ad showed hundreds of great gifts, baseball bats, gloves, basketballs, model kits and even a bow and arrow. The bow and arrow caught my eye; all I had to do was sell twelve boxes of greeting cards to get my prize.Well, how hard can it be to sell twelve boxes of greeting cards? Everyone needs those don't they?I cut out the coupon and sent it off and  a few weeks later received my  cards. The first box or two wasn't too hard to unload- Mom bought one and I think Grandma did. After that it became a marathon, knocking on doors of strangers for blocks around. You would be surprised at how many people don't want greeting cards, and there were a fair number who didn't want goofy kids knocking on their doors at all. After what seemed like eternity, I finally sold all twelve boxes and sent off for my prize- a bow and arrow. I was half expecting a dorky little wooden job with plastic arrows and a rubber tip; I was cynical even as a kid. What I got though, was a Ben Pearson, re-curved, fiberglass bow,with a 25lb pull, three target arrows, a paper target, finger tabs and an arm guard. Holy Toledo! This was a serious piece of equipment. What the heck were they thinking? A guy could do some real damage with this baby. I rushed upstairs to my room and proceeded to string the bow. Being the ignorant buffoon that I was, I had no idea what I was doing, having only seen bows on cowboy and Indian movies and maybe a Robin Hood flick or something. Of course I strung it up wrong, not realizing there was a right way to do it. I pulled it back as far as it would stretch and the string let loose, whacking my right ear and turning it as red as a Delicious apple. When I went downstairs for supper and told my dad about my misfortune, he immediately burst into laughter. While I was delighted to put him into such a good mood, I could have done without the throbbing red ear. It was then that he went to a bench seat under the dining room window and retrieved a beautiful laminated wooden bow that he hadn't used for years. I discovered he had started an archery club shortly after he moved to Marion, the Black Feathers, and used to make his own arrows, which explained the feathers and cedar shafts in the garage. Several days later he brought home a bale of hay for me to shoot at and set it up in the back yard. Hay is really dense when it's packed into a bale and thus is a good stop for the arrows, assuming you hit the bale. Of course I had no prior experience shooting a bow, and though my dad tried to direct me, I was a bit of a slow learner. I guess I hit the bale enough times to satisfy him, so he left me alone- big mistake. Occasionally the arrow would go high and either hit the top of the bale and launch across the alley or it would miss all together, thus striking Mr. Merchants garage door. I never volunteered why his door had suddenly become riddled with small holes. I'm not sure he would have been overly understanding. It didn't take long before I got tired of shooting the hay bale and launched out into more exciting adventures. I lived down the street from the highschool where there were acres of football fields, baseball fields and general empty grounds to play in. Of course having a deadly weapon in my possession immediately made me a celebrity to my friends. We would all march down to the school to shoot the bow, sometimes shooting an arrow strait up into the air. It would go so high we would see it wobble like a mirage and finally dissapear. Unfortunately my friends were just as stupid as I was and we had no idea where the arrow would come down at so we all ran like hell in different directions until it hit the ground with a thud. How do boys ever grow up to be men? It's a mystery indeed. My most satisfying expeience with that bow was one March day. I was down at the school shooting, minding my own business. Amy O'Dowd, a snotty little kid from a few streets over was flying her kite in one of the practice fields. I was walking home when she say's " I bet you can't hit my kite." I told her I bet I could, so she says,"Well go ahead and try then." So I let fly. Let me tell you, that arrow went straight and true right through that paper kite ripping it and causing it to tumble like an airplane in a dog fight. The only thing that would have been more satisfying at that moment would have been if it had caught fire on it's way down. She screamed an hollered that she was going home to tell her dad and I ran down the hill, retrieved my arrow, smiling from ear to ear and feeling like Robin Hood, William Tell and Fred Bear all rolled into one. For the better part of fifty years whenever I think of that day I still smile. Take that Amy O'Dowd, and watch who you challenge next time.

15 comments:

  1. That was funnier than hell. Those red recurves you bought Ben and I were fun to shoot. We also used to shoot the arrows into the air. It was way more fun than shooting at targets. Good post dad.

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  2. son of a gun that was too funny!...Brian told me about it and i had to stop studying my flight info immediately to check out the blog...good stuff!

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  3. HI Guys-
    I was telling Shelly Yandell about having a bow when I was little. She couldn't believe that any parent would let their young boy have one. Now that I think about it, I'm surprised we let you guys have one. I guess I must have forgotten what a goof I was with mine. Oh well, through God's grace we all survived. You guys were allowed to have BB guns, something my folks never allowed--probably wisely. I'll never forget those squirrel skins that you guys had tacked to the side of the shed- the great white hunters! It was good practice for the future I guess. Thanks for commenting.

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  4. Oh my gosh, I was laughing so hard! Man that was freakin funny! Good blog dad, love you! By the way, I'm surprised you and grandpa Sommerlot didn't have matching glass eyes after all that!

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  5. Hi Autumn- it's just the grace of God that any normal boy grows up to be a man at all. The fact that you may get to man-hood with all your parts intact is an added bonus

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  6. Tom just read your archery piece. Had me laughing out loud. Ed and your dad met in that archery club and became friends for life. good work. Shirley

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  7. Oh my Lord, dad, that was funny. I could just picture you boys all haulin ass, bumpin into eachother tryin to get outta the way...I remember, also, the boy's squirrel skins tacked to the shed out back...quite amusing blog dad..love ya..AJ

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  8. Hi Shirley-I didn't realize that's where they met. I know that Mom and Dad always valued you guy's friendship. I seem to recall visiting with you all one summer day up at Lake Erie. I'll never forget going out with Ed and the Explorers,spending a weekend camping in March in that travel trailer. He was always a lot of fun. I wish I could have known him better.

    Hi Amber- I imagine every kid that ever owned a bow and arrow ended up doing the very thing I did. There is a curiosity factor that has to be addressed. There isn't much thought involved about what happens when the arrow comes down. Love you too gal.

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  9. You had me laughing hard, Tom - good post! I, too, sold the greeting cards as a youth, although I don't remember how many boxes it took me to earn that watch with the 3 bands that you could switch around. Sounds like that bow and arrow were much higher quality than the watch!

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  10. Hey Jill- My older brother Mark was so impressed with the bow and arrow that he and I went together and ordered 24 boxes- twice. I can't imagine how we sold them all, but one time we ended up with a remote control race car set and once we got a table hockey game where you could move the men all over the place and bat a marble around to try and make a goal. That was a lot of fun.

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  11. Dad, I love reading your blogs! It brings back so many great memories of living at home. Good times! I love you!
    Jen

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  12. Thanks Jen- I'm glad your memories are pleasant. Sometimes I think we have a tendency to block out the unpleasant times, which I suppose is good. Love you too gal.

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  13. Good blog dad, sounds like you have some good memories growing up, as do I. I remember getting my BB gun I think you guys still have it in the attick. I would have paid to watch you get that girls kite w/your bow and arrow ahahahahah

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  14. Hi Camille- I wish I could have had a video of it, I would have figured out how to post it to U-tube. Periodically I replay the scenario in my mind- it's always satisfying. I think it was one of the highlights of my young life.

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  15. hahaha..that's just too funny! I think we all have great memories of growin up...and if there was bad stuff..there is just too many good memories to block it all out...we were blessed to grow up in the home we did with you n mom..and we all had eachother...I am thankful every day to have you n mom as our parents and to be able to consider my sisters and brothers as my best friends...honestly don't think there are that many people who can claim that...and it all starts with our parents...so thank you for that!

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