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Willow groves along the banks of Sayre's Red River.
In this winter scene you can see the individual willow bushes, but in the summer there is an extensive green canopy perfect for concealment of rival warring parties. The willow branches themsleves make ideal spears when nicely sharpened.
All is in place for intensive fun, until . . . (see Spear Wars story).


Spear Wars

What we loved to do most of all was to play war in those willow bushes. The slender bushes were dense and were taller than we were—they made a perfect place for hiding, and there were many secluded places for war camps. And the willow limbs were perfect for spears; all they required was a little sharpening on one end, but that later proved to be our undoing.

One day we had opposing war camps of 10 to 15 boys each, all armed with six-foot long spears. How much fun it was to surprise attack, raiding each other’s munition dumps. Until a big boy accidentally speared a little boy in the wrist, in an artery—there was blood everywhere. By the time they got the boy to town he was unconscious.

Luckily, he survived, but that put an end to the Red River spear fights.
We shifted to less dangerous activities—picking cattails along the Sayre Park Lake, soaking them in kerosene and having torch parades and torch fights around our houses after dark.

Daddy didn’t mind our torch games, and I wonder why. Once, as a boy, he had played with fire out beyond the sticker patch quite a way from his house. He would start a little fire, stamp it out with his bare feet then make a little bigger one—he was literally playing with fire. The third little fire he started got away from him and, to his horror threatened to char the whole area. He ran desperately, barefooted, all the way back home through the sticker patch to alert his father. After the fire was put out, he remembers that night his father stayed up late into the night picking the stickers out of his feet.


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