By Charles Towne
Well, to start with, and in my own defense I must say that we were just boys, and as the old saying goes, “boys will be boys,” whatever that is meant to imply.
To the best of my memory, Alvin was there. Alvin was the one my father called, “Dootsie Bobo,” because, as daddy claimed, “That boy doesn’t have the good sense of a hollow stump!”
Yes, Buster, Eddie, Roger, and Dootsie Bobo were there and seeing as I am telling the story I guess I was there too.
We were playing “war” in old man Heron’s woods which was sort of neat because there was the rotting carcass of a slightly dead cow that had died of some mysterious malady several weeks earlier.
The cow, which we had convinced ourselves had been killed by a German bomb, lent just the right touch of realism to our make-believe conflict.
We ran around, shooting at each other with our make-believe rifles and machine guns.
The woods fairly resonated with our “rat-a-tat-tat, kapow, bang-bang and declarations of, “Gotcha!” Which was usually answered by, “No you didn’t, you just winged me!”
Dootsie Bobo always liked getting shot because that gave him an excuse to fall down and take a nap for the rest of our current war.
It was drawing on to dinner time so we decided to give the cow a reprieve and we wandered off to our separate homes with the understanding that we would resume our battle on the following day.
Dootsie Bobo and I lived close together so we took a shortcut through the graveyard and that is what gave me the idea.
Memorial day was just past and a lot of the graves had fresh flowers on them so I went around gathering flowers off the grave so we could give our mamas real nice bouquets. Personally, I thought the cute little American flags were a real nice touch.
In my own defense I have to say that I was just a little kid at the time, maybe six or seven years old, and though my mama liked flowers gathering them off the graves the way we did probably wasn’t a real good idea.
That evening mama gave me a history lesson. She told me about the horrors of the first world war, what she called ”The great war.” And then she recited the poem, Flanders field, by John McRae which is as follows:
In Flanders fields, the poppies blow
between the crosses, row on row,
that mark our place, and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago
we lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
in Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
we shall not sleep, though poppies grow
in Flanders Fields.
That evening mama and I took those flowers out into our back yard and with some small ceremony we dug a little hole and buried them under the old walnut tree.
I must admit, because of that long ago episode Memorial Day with its poppies has always been sort of special to me.
Charles Towne is first and foremost a Christian. An octogenarian, author, journalist, wildlife photographer, naturalist, caregiver, and survivor, his life has been and continues to be, a never-ending adventure filled with possibilities never imagined. He has adopted the philosophy that to Live fully, laugh uproariously, love passionately, and learn like there is no tomorrow, is a formula for a long and joy-filled life.