My Blog

Retirement. Publishers, thank you for the many years of reading pleasure you gave me, but all good things must come to an end. Due to failing eyesight I am forced to retire. I can no longer review your books, and any that you send will be donated to the local library, unread. Do not send any more. I can only read for a couple hours every day, and this does not allow me to finish a book in reasonable time. I will be devoting time to my own books from now on, and reading on a personal level. Books that interest me. I prefer paperbacks and hardbacks, not eBooks. My eyesight has been failing the last few years, and I cannot handle hundreds of review books any more. My books are still available for review. Anyone interested in reviewing any of them, they are found in the Link to Tom’s Books On Amazon. Contact me for pdf copies at

Saturday, October 13, 2012


Here I am standing on Burnett Street in Wichita Falls, about a block from the Wichita River. This was during the time I was playing on the river with Jerry Odom.

Our drive to the commissary at Sheppard AFB is always the same. Coming in from out of town, we take Seymour Road to Beverly, then turn towards the base and cross the Wichita River. I will glance at the ugly brown water running between the banks, and marvel at how uninviting and dangerous it looks today. We've even seen homeless people living under the bridge on occasion. But it wasn't like this in my youth.
There was a time when the muddy river beckoned to an eleven-year old boy and his companions. On weekends, my San Jacinto classmate, Jerry Odom would drag me from my house to explore the jungle growth of the mighty Wichita; to us it was a great waterway with pirates and beasts to be conquered. Jerry would bring his BB or pellet gun, and I would carry my homemade bow and arrows. Lizards were Komodo Dragons, and snakes became giant anacondas fifty-feet long. Or we might be outlaws of Sherwood Forest. Our imaginations knew no bounds.
Jerry always had plenty of BBs and pellets, and I made arrows from the branches of trees, so we never ran out of ammunition to battle our imaginary enemies. Once, Jerry let me shoot his pellet gun. I spotted an insect on a rock, took careful aim, and pressed the trigger. No, I didn't shoot my eye out, but the pellet hit the rock and bounced back - hard - striking me square in the forehead and knocking me flat of my back. It was my first lesson with firearms!
While exploring the margin of the river one day, we came upon a small tributary that branched from the main stream. It didn't appear to be more than a foot deep, so Jerry leaped over the gap easily. Anything that Jerry could do so could I, so I jumped right behind him. I landed in the water just inches from the bank. To our surprise, the mud below the surface wasn't solid and I began sinking rapidly. I had landed in quicksand! Suddenly, our imaginary adventure turned into a real threat. The mud was sucking me down fast, and it took all of Jerry's strength to pull me from the muck. He succeeded.
I got back to my house with Jerry's help. We only lived a block from the river, but the mud was caked on my clothes, and it was difficult to walk. At the door, my mother saw all that crud, and told me to wash it off with the hose outside, then come inside and change to some dry pants and shirt. When we did get inside finally, and I told my mother what had happened, she just smiled and told us to stay out of the mud in the future. She never did believe the story about the quicksand. Perhaps it was easier for mothers not to worry about their children, if they didn't have to think about dangerous quicksand and venomous snakes. As it was, I didn't learn to swim until I was fifteen, long after the days of playing on the bank of the Wichita River.
My mother had a pair of pet turtles she named Tom & Jerry because of our close friendship. We were Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn playing on the mighty Mississippi River. We eventually moved away from the area, and I entered a new school, losing all contact with Jerry Odom. Time and separation often erases memories of childhood pals. Perhaps I would have forgotten Jerry long ago, if it hadn't been for that day he pulled me out of the quicksand. But every time we cross that muddy old brown river, I can still see us playing on the banks below, repelling hordes of pirates with only BB guns and homemade bow and arrows!
I may be older and wiser now, but deep in my subconscious is also a yearn for those simpler times, when youth knew no fear and two boys could find excitement and adventure in a make-believe world while our mothers laughed at our imagined dangers.
I hope Jerry also remembers. 
An adendom to this story, Jerry Odom passed away in 2012 after a long illness. I had tried to make contact with him, but he must have been under the care of a relative, so there was no phone number or address. I only discovered the town where he was living in the obituary. And even then, I was not able to get a response from his next of kin. A sad reminder that we should never lose touch with old friends.

No comments:

Post a Comment