When I was a young boy I would walk from our house on King Street around the corner and down Hines Street to play with Mack Bowles. He was a little younger than me, but he had a good ‘dirt’ spot under an elm tree in his side yard between his house and Mr. Pugan Wallaces’. We always saved our Popsicle sticks to us as road scrapers to carve out roads for our stick cars.
We lost ourselves in designing roadways and cities, with our imaginations running so fast that the term, “Let’s play like …,” being repeated over and over finally evolved into just one simple word, “Plike!” (Rhymes with “spike!”). At that time Mack’s Uncle Terrell and his older friend came over looking to entertain themselves by aggravating us.
Now it took me the longest time to accept the fact that Terrell could actually be Mack’s uncle, when he was just a few years older than we were. But everyone I talked to about it always insisted that it was so, no matter how much I continued to question it!
As these older boys approached our empire, I was digging a small hole which I was going to pack down and fill with water for a “lake!” Of course, the only “equipment” that I had to dig the hole was the end of one of my “road scrapers,” which still had a faint sticky orange coloring on it! The boy with “Uncle” Terrell started pushing the dirt from our construction work back into the hole with his foot. In doing so, he not only filled up my prospective lake, but he also destroyed a good deal of the “city” which we had designed.
I just kept digging, one small orange Popsicle stick load at a time, as he kept pushing every bit of the dirt back in. I don’t remember getting angry or acknowledging him in any way. I just kept on digging!
Finally “Uncle” Terrell, I now realize, was probably just seeing all the fun taken out of any aggravation they had expected, and therefore told his friend to stop. Back then I thought that he did so because he had taken our side and came to our rescue. At any rate, from that time forward I never argued with anyone again that Terrell was not a true “Uncle” to Mack Bowles!
But these days that which really strikes me as the greatest mystery, is not that I could have accepted Terrell as Mack’s “Uncle,” but that I could have on the other hand, so easily accepted any man being named “Pugan!”
March 27, 2003.