Giving life to your dreams
The caboose hurt
It was Julie’s suggestion that we run away and get married. I thought it was a good idea. We liked each other, played well together, and laughed a lot. Grandma had said, “Laughter is good medicine.” And since Grandma said it, it must be true. Therefore, Julie and I were always well medicated.
Julie lived in the house just north of my grandparents’ property. She had my attention anytime she wanted it. Come to think of it, she had a way of being in charge. But that was okay with me as she was an older woman, having lived a full six years to my five-and-a-half years.
It was about 150 feet from our house to Julie’s house. I made many trips to the room at the back of the house where she, her sister Sherrie and I often played during that summer of 1949. Sherrie was a few months younger than I, and played a supporting role in our activities. She always was the patient when Julie played nurse to my doctor. Likewise, she was always our “little girl” when Julie and I were Mommy and Daddy. Sometimes Sherrie was our puppy that liked to have its back scratched.
As the weeks passed, Julie and I talked about getting married when we grew up. At the time it seemed to be a given etched in reality.
Then one day Julie said, “Jimmy, let’s run away and get married.”
I thought it over for a few seconds. “I’ll go get some things.”
“Meet me by the road,” she giggled, leaned close and kissed me on the cheek.
Well, I told Grandma that I was going to run away with Julie and get married. I did not know how she would react to the news. I had a feeling she might not approve. After all, I was only a little boy and I knew that when most people got married they were a lot older than I was. So, being the very honest little boy that I was, I told Grandma everything.
I expected Grandma to be mad, but she wasn’t. She said I needed to pack my best clothes. She walked me into the bedroom I shared with my older brother John. He was off somewhere with his girlfriend Sally.
Grandma got out my little suitcase and put my suit in it and some other clothes she said I would need. Then she said, “You will need some food to eat until you get to where you are going.”
She fixed some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and put them into a brown paper bag along with some oatmeal cookies. Then she walked me through the dining room and living room to the front door. She opened the door out onto the porch. She didn’t lean down and give me a kiss or hug or anything, but handed the suitcase and paper bag to me and said, “You’ll need these things, and you will make a good husband for Julie.”
Grandma stood on the porch as I walked away.
Well, I was about 20 feet from the porch and couldn’t help thinking, “She’s being nice to me. I don’t really have any money to go anywhere. I don’t know what I am going to do.”
I was able to think things through like that.
“Gee whiz,” I thought. “What if Julie can’t make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches like Grandma?”
Right then and there I made a major decision. I put the suitcase down, and thought for a few more seconds. I picked up the suitcase, turned around and walked back to the porch. “Grandma, I want to stay a bachelor.”
She said, “Well, Jimmy, if that is the decision you feel you should make, then that is the decision you should make.”
Later that evening I was out on the front porch playing with the four wooden cars of my little train set. I sensed someone near the porch and looked up. Julie was angry, and I did not understand at the time why she was so mad. Anyway, during the course of her getting more upset with me, she grabbed the caboose, turned and walked a few steps. She whirled, screamed and threw the caboose at me, hitting me right in the middle of my left eyebrow. The scar remained covered by my eyebrow for many years.
My ardor for Julie waned considerably after that.