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Fiction: The Stilts
By Connie Bedgood McWilliams
In 1945 I lived in Pottsboro, Texas with my grandmother Laura May Lindsay and my Aunt Dixie also Bobby, my brother. My mother had joined WACs and my dad was in the Navy assigned to Hawaii.
He sent me my first funny book called Plasticman and I longed to do the things he could do, especially when climbing the big tree with the porch swing under it. It would have been fun to stretch out my arms and swing everywhere when playing Sheena Queen of the Jungle with my cousin, Don Shires.
On Don’s side of the railroad was a man and his wife living in a small tin building. It had a little kitchen, living room and bath room. The old man, Mr. Jack and wife Mrs. Donna, seemed to be retired and sat outside most of the time.
Life was cooler on the front porch for sure. He whittled and she mended clothes. We kids stopped and asked about his whittling. He was always making an animal or sling shot for Don. While walking back home that day I was interested in what big thing Mr. Jack was making this time. He told me it was a pair of stilts for me. I was surprised. I had never seen any stilts and had no idea what they were for. Mr. Jack told me you will see and come by after school on Monday. A pair, what toys come in pairs?
Finally, school was over and I skipped and ran all the way to Mr. Jacks little house. He had used an old belt and cut it to fit over the part of the stilts where my foot would go. He explained, “Lean against the fence over there and put your feet on the small part where the belt is nailed and I will push you up.”
Being I was nine years old, I was used to doing what I was told by grownups. He shoved me up and off I went walking unsteadily all over the yard. I did learn how to walk on them and enjoyed it. Most of the kids came to visit him and wanted a pair. He made them all a pair and the parents paid for the wood and straps. We had fun.
One day, when I was about 45 years old, I drove in my drive way and there was a neighborhood kid walking on stilts. I yelled at him to come show them to me. They were homemade also. He walked over on them. I said, “Let me try that.”
He laughed, “You are old. You can’t walk on them!”
“Just watch me,” I retorted.
I leaned against my car and off I went walking up and down the street. The boy was yelling at all the kids down the block to come see this old lady walking on his stilts. I performed that day as if I had been doing it daily.
Memories came flooding back of the good ole' days in Pottsboro and that kind Mr. Jack who caused so much fun and even reached into the future for more fun.
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