My two brothers, Johnny and Donny were my first friends and we continue to be friends to this day. Johnny was the big brother, Donny was the little brother. I was the middle one. My family moved to Dickinson, Texas when my Dad got his job at NASA in 1963. I was five years old at the time. We lived in Pasadena, TX for about a year while our house in Dickinson was being built. We bought the land which was full of trees that needed to be cleared before the house could be started. Dad, brothers and I worked what seemed like forever long days clearing trees and brush while Mom had picnic snacks and water always ready on the tail gate of the green 1960 Chevy Station Wagon.
As we got older our mischievous nature began to mature. Both brothers always did stuff but I was always innocent. Looking back, I was not as innocent as I thought I was but was as mischievous as they were and in some cases maybe more so.
When we were pre-teens, we saw a movie called “Lt Robin Crusoe USN” In the movie Dick Van Dyke who was the star of the movie would catch things by tying a rope to a sapling tree, the tree was bent like a spring and the rope would be looped on the ground. When he caught something the rope loop would catch their leg and throw them high into the air where they could not get away. Johnny and one of his friends got the big idea that they needed to set a trap like that and Donny would be the one to test it out. Our yard had plenty of tree saplings that would work great. If I remember correctly the trap worked pretty well.
There was a bayou at the end of our street where we spent a lot of days playing and hunting snakes with our pellet guns. One time we built a raft out of tying logs together which was inspired by Tom Sawyer, again, Donny was going to be the test pilot to see if the raft worked. I don’t think the raft even floated but went under water as soon as it was launched.
One day I went into the garage and saw Johnny sitting there apparently waiting for something. Back in those days our mailbox was next to the garage door at the front of our house. I sat down in the garage to see what Johnny was waiting for. It was not long before the mailman with his big leather bag of mail and hand full of letters showed up. When he opened our mailbox, our cat Suzie bolted out like a bullet and took off. This caused the poor mailman to throw all of the mail he had in his hands into the air from surprise. As he started to pick up the mail that he threw, Johnny calmly said from inside the garage, “Put the cat back”. That mailman sure gave us a mean look as he put our mail in the box and walked away.
As we got older, our interest moved away from being mischievous and hunting in the nearby woods with pellet guns to cars. One of the cars Johnny had was a ’66 Chevelle SS. I had several cars over the years but my favorite was the ’68 Camaro. Donny had a ’73 Vega in which he installed a high performance 350 V8. We may have competed in having the better faster car but we were always the first to the rescue when one of the other brothers broke down. I recall Johnny pulling me home with a chain many times when I was out in my beat up ’66 Chevelle SS. My Chevelle was not as nice or as fast as his ’66 was.
Now that we are in our 50’s we have been getting together every once in a while for dinner to catch up. Since we now each have our own families we have to make time to spend an hour or so together to solve the world problems.