Old Man Davis

I mentioned a while back that one time when we were kids we were shot at. Though I said I’d tell you about it later, I thought I should share it while it was fresh in my mind. Chances are getting increasingly strong that I’d forget it.
Anyway, Old Man Davis had the coolest lot in the neighborhood. The house has since been torn down, but it was heaven to me and all the kids who met there every day after school in the late 60s.

The house was made of stone, and set back far from the street in a jungle of apple, apricot, lemon and avocado trees. Behind the house there was a pond that was full of life, mostly gorgeous, gushy tadpoles. Once we delivered bags of them to the kids getting out of Sunday School and were disappointed to learn that the parents didn’t think it was such a great gift to give children dressed in their Sunday best. Imagine that?
Old Man Davis was the grumpiest man you’ve ever met. But we knew he loved us. On Halloween, he would make his homemade peanut brittle and never seemed to notice that we came back to his house three or four times to get this delectable treat. His wife, Anna, was soft spoken and the perfect adopted grandmother. We lived too far away to visit our grandmother so she became the neighborhood grandmom.
There was one special tree on Old Man Davis’s lot with branches that formed a great big tent. We had converted it into a clubhouse. You had to be “in” to get in and rarely did my older brother Curtis consider me “in” enough to get in. Inside the tree there were old tires used for seats, an old chest used to hold drinks, and a old Hillsboro Bros Coffee can, to hide the stash collected from pop bottles in case money was needed. Usually we could also get money, for movies drinks and candy, by picking the fruit off Mr. Davis’s trees and selling them down at certified market. They’d give us a quarter a bag. Anna wanted us to pick the fruit before it fell to the ground and rotted, so she never minded that we did this.
Anway, on one day I was allowed inside the clubhouse with my best friend Cathy. Her brother George and Curtis said they had a neat game they wanted to play, “spin the bottle.” We were playing that game even though I was totally grossed out, when Curtis kept spinning the bottle and kissing Cathy. Anyway, on George’s turn the bottle came to me. “No way!” I yelled and started to stand up. Then, outside we heard a yell, “Who’s there?”
“Get out of there before I blow your head off” we heard old man Davis yell.
Suddenly a gun went off and I nearly pe’ed my pants. Curtis grabbed Cathy and said run this way. And took off.
George grabbed hold of my hand and said “no we gotta go this way.” Before I knew it he’s pulling me in the direction of Old Man Davis. I let go and ran down the stone wall that lined the other yards of houses that bordered Old Man Davis’s lot. When I discovered I was cornered, I turned around. George was no where in sight. I looked and about 15 feet away, Old Man Davis, had a shotgun pointed straight at me.
He was squinting to get a look at me, so I squeaked, “It’s me. April!” Unfortunately, in addition to poor eyesite, he was quite deaf and didn’t hear me. Fortunately, what felt like the hand of God grabbed me by the hair and the back of my shirt and lifted me over the stone wall and into safety. Curtis had jumped one of the neighbors fences, climbed onto their big black dog’s house, and yanked me over the wall. Curtis never let me forget that he saved my life, risking the rath of blackie’s teeth to do it.
It was quite a while before I had the guts to play at Old Man Davis’s house again. Actually I only went back once or twice after that, at Anna’s request. The last time I remember going there, Anna had asked me to take out some old papers to the trash. When I did, I saw Old Man Davis crawling around looking for something. So, I started to help him. Not really knowing what it was I was looking for I kinda just turned things over then turned them back again. When I didn’t come back for my pay, Anna came out to see what was keeping me.
“What are you doing?” she asked me.
“Old Dan lost something,” I replied. “I’m helping him look but I don’t know what he lost”
“His mind,” she muttered, as she shook her head. She turned and went back in the house.

Tag! You’re It!

by Jim Heath (as told to April Heath Pastis)

We had the best time playing in the cemetery not too far from our house. It was actually very safe to play. You could run around without having to worry about getting out of the way of cars, like we did when we played in the street.

So, one night all the neighborhood kids and I were playing games. Oh, normal kids games like tag and Hide and seek.

Well, I was running away to hide and because it was pitch dark out that night, I didn’t notice that a grave had been recently dug and left open. I nearly broke my leg as I fell into the deep grave. I tried like hell to get out of there, cause it was pretty spooky, but every time I grabbed hold of the side, the dirt would just give way and crumble and I’d fall back down.

I jumped and climbed and climbed and jumped, and pretty soon, I was exhausted. So, I sat down and figured I’d wait til I heard one of them run by and yell to them.

I waited.

And, I waited. It must’ve been a good 15 minutes and I hadn’t heard a sound. So, I started yelling for them to come get me out of that grave.

No one came and there was no noise. I figured they gave up.And, I was starting to get really, really cold. So, I sat down in the corner, and pulled my thin jacket over my knees and tried to get warm.

Well, I was bout to nodd off when suddenly Donnie Doogie (a neighborhood friend), fell into the grave.

He didn’t notice that I was there and began jumping up like mad, just as I did, trying to get out of that grave.

So I said, “You might as well give up, I’ve been trying to get out of here forever.”

ha ha ha ha

He didn’t even turn to look at me, he crawled up the side of that grave like a treed cat.

In a few minutes, the faces of my buddies all peered over the edge of the grave.

“Oh it’s only Jimmy,” My big brother David said. Well, they had a great laugh, but Donnie had to go home and change his pants.

Jimmy? Who Are You Talking to?

told by James Heath
(as told to April Heath Pastis)
After your mom and me got married we lived with mom’s mom for a short 
time in a house on Avenue A. We stayed up in the second floor and we 
didn’t have much furniture at all. In fact, I think we were using 
some lawn furniture for chairs. Anyway, Jimmy couldn’t have been more 
than two or three, he probably was two because I remember we borrowed 
your grandma’s rocking chair so Donna could rock the baby (Curtis). 
Jimmy was the best kid you could imagine, he’d make up his own games 
and keep himself occupied so that you barely knew he was there. He 
was always talking to himself, so I thought he had an imaginary 
friend like most kids do. One afternoon, I heard Jimmy talking to 
himself again. It wasn’t kid talk but sounded pretty adult, but he 
was always an old man, even at the age of two. I was feeling a little 
guilty that I didn’t spend more time with him and worried that 
imaginary friends were probably not healthy, so I walked into the 
bedroom. When I did, Jimmy fell silent.
“Jimmy? Who are you talking to?”
”That man,” Jimmy said and pointed at the rocking chair.
”Now, Jimmy. You are only pretending,” and I walked over to the 
chair. “There’s no one in this chair.” I said and reached my hand out 
to touch the back of the chair, but before I touched it, the rocking 
chair tilted back. It began rocking back and forth and I found myself 
backing away from the chair as I watched it rock back and forth. It 
started out slowly and then it began to rock furiously.
I stood next to Jimmy and I felt that something was sitting in that 
chair. It also did not like me. I felt as if it was going to say 
something, but it didn’t.
Instead, I felt it say “Get Out of My House.”
Well, I nearly shxx my pants. I grabbed Jimmy and got out of that 
room. The thing is, it didn’t seem to have anything against Jimmy. I 
felt it didn’t like me.