It's my turn to host My Town Monday this week, but t be honest this post fits only in the fact it, and all my childhood stories took place in Amarillo.
We lived on the corner of Trigg and 32nd street. The same house, the same friends, the same neighborhood colored every one of my school years. As I got older what I considered entertainment and my motivations changed but looking back I have nothing but fond memories. Yeah I'm lucky to have escaped serious damage to myself or other given some of the crap we did but most of our activities were harmless.
Many of the best stories took place in the alleys behind our houses.
These alleys were wide gravel lined areas strips that for us were easier to navigate than the streets. The dumpsters offered places to duck behind during games of hide and seek, as well as other treasurers for those willing to get their hands dirty. Many homeowners neglected the narrow strip of lawn on the alley side of their fences and an adventuresome boy could crawl through the tall weeds and stomp out a shady place to laze away in secret. And then there was the water mains behind each house.
Heavy cast iron lids covered the holes but we quickly learned how to pry those up and look for critters inside. Toads, tiger salamanders, and a great variety of creepy crawly insects enjoyed living in the dark damp caverns of these water mains.
Mostly we were after the toads and salamanders, but if we spotted something cool like a big centipede or something we'd capture it as well.
We would each pick a toad or salamander and take it home for a few days where we kidded ourselves by claiming to train them. Then we'd get back together and see whose toad could hope the farthest or whose salamander could crawl the fastest.
Perhaps this was the beginning of my lifelong gambling addiction though none of my friends enjoyed risking their milk money quite as much as I did.
We did this for several spring summers without incident. Oh the occasional man would catch us digging in his water main and assume we were up to no good. He'd scream and shout and we'd take off giggling knowing no fat old man was going to run us down.
I remember the day it happened was a hot one. Fairly late in summer if I'm not mistaken. The July or perhaps August before my 6th grade year.
There were four of us and we'd already covered a couple of alleys, but it had been a hot dry summer so even down in the water mains there wasn't much moisture. Toads and salamanders were scarce but we kept up our search.
We pried the lid off a water main and there they were ...
Not reptiles but nubiles.
We'd unearthed a stash of porn mags.
When I say porn I'm not talking about tasteful, sophisticated Playboys or even slightly cruder Penthouses. I'm talking sleazy hustler style porn.
I suppose I'd seen the female form before but never in such brazen glaring light as on display in that hot steamy alley. The things those women were doing defied logic to my 11 year old mind. There were 3 magazines but four of us. There might have been a fight except one kid shrugged off our discovery and announced, "Hell those ain't nothing. My dad has a whole closet full. Videos too."
The neighborhood I grew up in was lower middle class and VCR's were still expensive back in those days so not many of friends had one. And none of us had ever seen a porno tape much less watched one.
Quicker than you can say PeeWee Herman we were off to this kids house to substantiate his claim.
He was right. And looking back I do believe that was the last day we ever searched for toads or salamanders. Was our innocence stolen that day? I guess you could make that argument as our discovery led to a newfound appreciation of the opposite sex.
We divied up the three mags among those of us without a closet full of porn hidden at home. My brother found mine and absconded with it within the week which probably saved me trouble later down the road.
Of that group of friends not one of us became a rapist or sex fiend so you can't claim the experience scarred us too deeply. But I've often wondered about the person that stashed them there. Were they a kid like us trying to sneak a peak? Was it a husband looking to get his jollies without his wife finding out? Maybe that particular water main was simply the home of a scandalous and horny salamander.
So tell me fellas. When and how did you get your first good, full on look at a naked female. And ladies, feel free to expose your own salamander spotting experiences.
For more My Town Monday post check out the links as I add them here and over at the official MTM blog. Feel free to join us by writing a post about something in your town or area. Should you crate such a post today or tomorrow I'd be glad to add your blog to the link parade.
Barrie Summy practices her camping skills at Cibbets Flat Campground near Pine Valley, California.
Laura K Curtis has a howling good time at the Mount Kisco, New York public library.