(Continuation of story of Jamey Awful’s birthday party, without a doubt, the most fun I ever had in my life. If he gave a party today, I’d be there!)
Jamey’s birthday party was the most fun I’ve ever had. There had been no “Pin the Tail on the Donkey”, no party hats, just fun, fun, fun. When my mother walked over to get me, I could tell she was not happy. She didn’t even go in for coffee like she always did at neighbor lady’s houses. Boy was I in trouble with my ruined party dress, lost shoes, and muddy self. She said I could never go to the Awfuls again.
I figured Mother would forget after a few days, but no……….No visits to the Awfuls. If they noticed they were being snubbed you couldn’t tell. We were always ready to play with them if they rambled through our yard on the way to bigger and better things.. During this time Daddy brought home a huge, mean turkey, to fatten for Thanksgiving. It was a monster!! He jumped on us, spurred us, and beat us with its wings when we went to feed the chickens and gather eggs. He even got bolder and started flying over the fence to attack us in our territory. We stayed as far away as we could, but he ambushed us if he caught us off guard.
My personal favorite among the Awfuls was Joey who enjoyed a special claim to fame. He ate bugs and other strange items. He ate his first bug on a dare and liked it, saying it tasted like peanuts. From that time forward, he was generally known as Froggy. The kids in the neighborhood took pride in finding the biggest, strangest bugs for him to eat. Froggy did have his standards, though. He refused to eat worms.
Before too many days, we were lucky enough to have Jamey, Froggy, and Davey paid us a call. They had heard about the mean turkey and wanted to see it. Billy and I wanted nothing to do with their plan, but pointed them toward the chicken yard. Sure enough, that old devil turkey flew at the three boys, ready to do battle. They were screaming and running like crazy, but not like we did. All three were chasing the turkey all over the chicken yard, flogging it with their caps and switches. The terrorized turkey flew up in the trees and stayed there till they got tired of waiting for it. He never bothered us again. I liked them better than ever after that.
We gave Mother a little time to forget before asking to go to the Awfuls again. One golden day, she had a headache and wanted to rest on the sofa until her head felt better. We played quietly for a few minutes till she went to sleep. Billy whispered and asked if we could go to visit the Awfuls. She didn’t say no, so off we went.
The Awfuls had the best place in the neighborhood. Overgrown bushes tangled into the fence so the yard was a jungle, a great place for adventures. Tall grass and junk in the yard made it easy to hide. We chased the sleeping hound dogs out of the abandoned cars and played cops and robbers. We pulled boards off the barns and sheds for fort-building. Best of all, there was a big tree with low-hanging branches by the front door. We followed the boys up the tree and through a window into the attic. From there, we dropped through a hole into the living room ceiling and sneaked behind the furniture into a back bedroom where their crazy old grandma was the bed. She screeched at us. They showed us a secret way out through a hole in the floor of her closet. We pelted each other with dirt clods from their bare yard. I never had so much fun. Eventually, Mother awoke with a disturbing memory of Billy’s whispered request and our joy was just a memory. Sadly, that was my last visit to the Awful’s house.
Not too long afterward, the Awfuls showed up with little Becky Awful in tow. She was about three and overdue to join their traveling show. Daddy was unhappily cleaning out a clogged drain, bailing nasty stuff into a tub. He wasn’t in a great mood and sent the Awfuls on their way, not noticing that Becky had remained behind playing quietly off to the side. She was making mud pies with clean white sand and drain sludge. As soon as he saw her, he howled for Mother to take Becky home. Becky was so filthy and smelly it would probably have been easier to get another little girl than to try to clean her up. As it turned out, that wasn’t a problem. Becky showed up two days later in the same malodorous outfit.
Since we couldn’t visit the Awfuls anymore, we had to make do with whatever crumbs of fun they tossed our way. My parents were mad because Mr. Awful had shut his pigs up in a small lot between our house and theirs and it really, really stunk. Mother had us helping her hang laundry on the line when we heard a huge ruckus next door. It seems Mr. Awful had noticed Jamey’s missing birthday shoes and sent Jamey, Froggy, and Davey out in the yard to find them. I could have told him where one of them was, but Mother shushed me up. The boys made for the pigpen, wading around, looking in the muddy black hog-wallows seeking the lost shoes. Off course, it wasn’t long before Froggy slipped and fell, then Davey, then Jamey. They forgot about the shoes and were running, sliding, and splashing in the pig mud. Mud showered everywhere. The pigs cowered in the corners, trying to save their bacon. Eventually, Mr. Awful came out in the yard to check the progress of the shoe search. When he saw them in the pigpen they were in big trouble. He pulled a spring of grass and threatened to switch them if they didn’t find the shoes. They started begging for mercy and he backed down, but did tell them they’d have to take a bath before bedtime. I was glad to see they could get in trouble. It’s hard to live next door to kids with a perfect life.