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Childhood in occupied territory

Viewed 5736 times 2013-5-31 13:25 |System category:Life| house, long, territory, childhood, weekend

China Daily forum asked for unforgettable childhood stories and this came to mind.
Long long ago when I was about 5 or 6 years old my family took weekend trip to a an old house in the countryside where
my grandparents on my fathers side lived. We would go there several times a year. It wasn't far off, just a one hour
drive if even that. My grandpa was a tall, skiny man. His nickname was 'skeet' because he was so thin and lanky he
looked a little like a mosquito. He was a good natured guy who liked to joke around but he could snap into an argument
with my grandma at the drop of a hat. She was the type who could find fault in a warm sunny day and sometimes grandpa
wasn't in the mood to hear about it. I usually saw things the way he did and would always side with him in those little
arguments but was careful not to draw the attention of my grandma too much.
The old farm house was on a hill, a little dirt road led up to it. The whole area was wooded and hilly and wasn't far
from the Missouri river, one of the largest rivers in America. In many places you could see the river on the last
few miles of the drive. It was muddy and wide and and the banks were littered with debris from the rising and falling
waters as the seasons pass.
I was too young to know about or even care about what the plans might be for this little trip. Most of the time there
was no plan as far as I could tell. We'd just get together, usually with other relatives, and the adults would talk
and eat while me and the other kids would find something to do on the little farm. There was a couple of ponds on the
property and plenty of trees to climb and frogs to try and catch. We were warned about the snakes though. On one trip
my grandpa had just killed a copperhead on the dirt road up to the house and the kids were kept close to the house.
What a bummer, I'm sure the snakes were always there so what difference did it make. But parents rule so what could
you do?
On this trip there was a plan though. We all were going to pile in a few cars and drive further into the hills where
there were supposed to be Indian burial grounds. Indian is a common American term for Native Americans. Back then
nobody called Native Americans Indians, they were simply Indians and everyone accepted that.
All I knew about Indians were that they were the bad guys and we Americans had put them in their place because they
would attack us. Everything good about America was because of us Americans and the Indians had to go. That was the
propaganda shown in the TV and taught in the classroom and what else was a little boy to believe..
Armed with this "knowledge" I sat in the car as we drove further into the woods wondering if there were still Indians
out here in the wilderness. I asked and of course everyone chimed in with their answers. The adults laughed and said
no Indians had been here in quite some time but some of the older kids saw a chance to have fun with me and said that
you never can tell.. there are lots of places out here to hide. And there were. YIKES!!!
The more I looked the more I could see all kinds of places to hide and spring ambushes from. What were we getting
ourselves into I wondered. After all, adults weren't always right.
By the time we arrived at wherever we were supposed to be going I was pretty sure I didn't want to wander out into
those woods looking for Indian bones and teeth. That is what we were supposed to be doing.
No, I think I'll stay here in the car. It's safer and I can roll up the windows and lock the doors. I wonder if they
can shoot arrows through a windshield... I wonder what will happen to mom... if they do kill everyone how long will
it take them to break into this car... I sure wish I was back at the farmhouse.
It was hot and I rolled down the window next to me a little bit to get some air. Everyone else was off in the woods
looking for the remains of Indians. I kept a sharp eye out for anything movement or any odd sounds. Sure enough I
began to hear strange noises from far off being carried by the gentle breezes and felt a presence. I never had the
hair on the back of my neck stand up like I hear some people talk about but if it ever would this would have been
the time. Instead I just felt an ever growing fear. What was this presence I felt. Was it Indian spirits haunting
the people who came to look for their bones? Why were they haunting me? I wasn't out there scraping the ground with
the toe of my shoe or digging in the rocks. I was innocent... or was I.
Too much to figure out for most adults, what's a kid trying to come to terms with digging up the dead on a weekend
trip to grandpa's house going to do?

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)

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