When summer was over, Luana and I continued the Eagles Club throughout the school year. Friday's were the Fitch's 'family
day', when Luana had to stay home and do things with her parents and sister and brother. Sunday, Luana spent the entire day
with church activities, but on all the other days, after school and especially on Saturdays, we were busy with Eagles Club
The four houses on my side of the road, including ours, had one acre lots. The back half of all four properties were undeveloped;
just fields and fruit trees. Two lots over, on the side street, was the Bauer home. The Bauer's back yard was at the edge
of my next door neighbor's field. My grandmother used to live there, but had recently moved away. Now our good friends, the
Logan's were next door. Luana and I claimed both lots as our own and played in the tall grass and climbed trees in the fields
Bruce Bauer and his sister Carla were our enemies. Thinking back now, I don't know why we didn't like them, but for several
years, we had a running feud. Luana and I didn't allow the Bauers to set foot in 'our field'. We spent a lot of time up in
the trees 'spying' on Bruce and Carla, exchanging words back and forth and occasionally even throwing dirt clods at each other.
Luana and I would hide and call "HOOT, HOOT" back and forth while Carla and Bruce watched us from the corner of their yard
wondering what we were up to.
Carla was a tomboy and much tougher and larger than her brother. Bruce was a pale, lanky kid, in the same grade as me,
which was a year ahead of Carla and Luana. Bruce had a short crew cut and very light hair, so his head sort of shined and
Frequently, Insults between the Bauers and Luana and I would fly back and forth. Every so often my mother would hear us
arguing or see us heaving dirt clods and call Luana and I home for one of her famous 'little talks'.
"Now girls..." she would begin. "Why can't you all just get along..."
We could never come up with much of an answer. It usually was something about how we thought they were dumb kids and didn't
want them coming over to our field. We didn't mean they weren't smart--Bruce was very good in school--we just used 'dumb'
as an expression. We really couldn't think of any real reason for our feud.
"...You have to learn to get along with them." Mother would tell us. "They are lonesome and want to play with you. It wouldn't
hurt you to include them sometimes."
"We will, mother." I said without much enthusiasm.
"Well, go back and play, and BE NICE!"
It was mid-September and we had been in school for just a week or two. The days still felt like summer and the group of
us neighborhood children were eager to get home to play as we piled off the school bus and scattered in several directions.
The bus stop was about two blocks away from my house. Luana and I and Bruce and Carla had to all walk together up the same
street for one of the blocks.
Luana and I were walking behind Bruce and Carla talking about what we would do that afternoon. I was watching Bruce a few
yards ahead and noticed how much he had grown. His arms stuck out beyond the cuffs of his last-years' long-sleeved plaid shirt.
He was wearing shorts and his skinny long legs made his already large feet look huge. It was such a funny sight that I started
to laugh and whispered to Luana and got her laughing too.
"What's so funny?" Carla demanded as she and Bruce turned around and glared at us.
We didn't answer, but kept laughing harder and pretended to be whispering a secret to each other, pointing every so often
towards them. We were trying to make them mad, and it worked! Carla reached down and picked up a handful of small rocks and
hurled them in our direction. We returned fire and the four of us started running up the road throwing rocks back and forth,
the Bauers running backwards, facing us as they threw.
At the intersection, Luana and I went to the right while Carla and Bruce turned around and ran straight ahead. I hung back
a minute before completely rounding the corner, but Luana kept running home. Bending over, I picked up one last rock and aimed
directly at Bruce, a full half-block away. I knew I couldn't throw that far, but I wanted him to know I cast the last stone.
I wound up, reeled back and let go. It seemed as if the rock was in slow motion as it traveled toward Bruce. It kept flying
farther and farther and suddenly I heard a loud 'OOUUCCCHHHH!' as Bruce cupped the back of his head with his hand.
I ran home as fast as I could, scared to death. My mother was downstairs talking on the phone so I went directly up to
my room. I knew I'd have a few minutes to compose myself before she started calling me to come down for a snack.
I flopped on my bed still shaking. How was I to know I was such a good shot, I thought. I know mother is going to find
out about this somehow. I was really scared.
Then I heard the front doorbell ring. An icy feeling shot through me, and my palms began to sweat even though my hands
were ice cold. I knew instantly who was at the door. I was so scared, I just rolled up in a ball and waited. I didn't have
to wait long. After a few agonizing minutes the stair door opened and I heard my mother call out. "DOREEEEEN!"
I slowly got up and tipped toed down the stairs, taking as long as I thought I could get away with. I pushed open the door
at the bottom of the stairs and walked towards the living room. The butterflies were fluttering in my stomach. My mother was
sitting in her chair by the window and Bruce was perched on a chair to her right, against the wall. He looked pale and nervous
and I could see part a large bandage on the back of his head. I noticed that his eyes were big and round and glassy, and I
knew he'd been crying.
"Sit down", my mother said and I plopped on the couch pulling my legs under me. Her voice sounded funny, unnatural. She
was trying to sound stern, but it wasn't convincing. I quickly glanced at her and saw an expression that surprised me. She
was frowning and trying to hold her mouth in a disapproving way, but her eyes were twinkling, almost smiling and I knew she
was trying hard not to laugh.
"Bruce has just been telling me about what happened on the way home from school today." She said, still using that odd
voice. "What do you have to say for yourself, young lady?"
I couldn't think of what to say, so sat mutely for a few moments. Then I said, "I didn't think I would hit him, he was
so far away". Bruce was squirming nervously, eager to leave. He hadn't said a thing since I came into the room.
"Doreen, apologize to Bruce this instant, and I don't want to ever hear of anything like this happening again. Do you hear
"Sorry", I mumbled in his direction. Abruptly he stood up and headed for the door, still not saying a word.
"I hope your head feels better soon, Bruce." My mother said, getting up to let him out, giving me a look that said, Can't
you say something nice to him too before he goes. I pretended not to understand what she meant.
I knew I'd be hearing more from my mother, so I just stayed where I was. Mother shut the door and stood facing it for a
long time. She slowly turned around and looked at me and started to laugh. I checked her expression and knew it was safe to
laugh with her. It felt so good to release my guilt and tension. We laughed so hard tears were rolling down our cheeks. She
sat down next to me still laughing, wiping her eyes with the corner of her apron.
"I had an arm like that at one time too." She told me. "I could throw hard and fast and I always struck out the boys when
I pitched. Just don't throw any more rocks. You could have put out his eye." The last sentence was said in a serious tone,
the one she used for her 'lessons', and I told her I wouldn't, just as seriously.
She hugged me and I knew she felt I had been punished enough by my own guilt and conscience. She took my hand and pulled
me up. "Come out to the kitchen now. Let's have a piece of warm berry cobbler!"
© DOREEN BRADLEY SATTER 2005
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