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It's time to roll up the hose pipe

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By Bill Evans

Our first six weeks of school were drawing to a close and a whole lot of stuff was winding down.

The morning sun was coming up later and there was a slight chill in the air as we walked to school.

The line of maple trees in Mrs. Bell's yard were painted in hues of red and orange. When school left out in the afternoon, they would gently shed a few brightly colored leaves for us to gather and take home for our mothers to enjoy. Momma always took her gift of autumn leaves and placed them in a tray as a simple welcoming of a new season and sort of a farewell to summer.

Some of us boys figured it was time to make the most of our outdoor fun before those cold wintry winds ran us inside. We decided to get in one more fishing trip and maybe spend a final night out in the old pup tent.

As soon as school let out that Friday, we went into "executive session" to develop a game plan.

It seems like my job was always digging up the fishing worms. Armed with a pick, shovel and hoe, I headed out behind the pear trees.

Sure as shooting, luck was with me and I hit a mother lode of good, long, red earthworms. The fish would be jumping out onto the banks to get at 'em before we baited our hooks.

Canned soft drinks didn't exist (or at least, not around here), so a Boy Scout canteen of water met our needs for refreshment. Saltine crackers and a jar of peanut butter helped fight away any hunger pains. But shucks, we were way too busy to waste precious time eating.

Hiking over to a nearby creek, we dangled our lines into the water. Everybody was hollering out, "Be quiet or you will run off the fish."

Finally, we got a few bites. Then, someone yanked out a skillet-sized catfish which was the best we could do.

To tell the truth I was glad. We got tired of fishing and were thinking ahead of other adventures. Just like in a John Wayne Western, we had already burned too much daylight.

Now, the problem with camping out on Saturday night was Sunday school. That's the trouble with having to camp out when school was going on. On those good old summer days, we had every day but Saturday to camp out. Thinking back, we were always up before dawn's first light so there wasn't a whole lot of trouble getting washed up for church.

Of course, our eyelids got heavy when the preacher got long-winded in big church.

There was another problem with camping on Saturday; it wasn't necessarily a day off.

There were plenty of chores to do. Kindling had to be chopped and stored so those fires could be started in fireplaces and pot-bellied stoves when the weather turned cold.

The first load of coal was delivered from Mr. Porter's place down near the Depot. There were always some great big lumps which had to be broken up with the butt of an ax so they would fit in the fireplace grate.

We didn't burn wood, but I'm glad our neighbors did.

Hey, a couple of cords of wood have the makings of a swell fort, at least for a little while.

Outside spigots had to be wrapped right down to the ground.

You know, older homes like mine had outside water pipes reaching way up to the second story and no one ever attempted to cover them up. When real cold weather arrived, we had to draw water in pots and pans because the exposed water pipes froze up until late in the day.

Now, if I had to live my life over, I would cover up those pipes too.

Come to think of it, I could've made a bunch of picture show money just going around the neighborhood with some old sacks and a step ladder wrapping water pipes.

My folks believed that leaves should lay around until spring, to protect the grass underneath, so I didn't have to worry about raking. Yard chairs were stored and the front porch rocking chairs were turned up against the house.

Hose pipes were rolled and stacked in the Plunder House.

Newspaper strips were stuck into spaces around the windows to keep out the cold.

There was a lot to do during summer's final fling.

But good times lie ahead in October, November and December.

That meant Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas were on the way.