The call went out to the neighborhood boys: “We are playing king of the hill!”
That was the call for all able bodied youth to climb over or through the barbed-wire fence west of the neighborhood, gather cow pies, and form teams to see who could conquer and hold the top of a small hill just outside of the fence.
There were five or six boys in the neighborhood ranging from about six (me and the boy in the Quonset hut to the east) and 10, I think, the boy in the Quonset hut to the east. If you remind me, I’ll talk more about the “neighborhood” in another story.
This hill was a small flat-topped rise. We used it for sledding in the winter, but that is another story, too. It sloped from the top eastward down to the fence. That was the longest slope. There were other, shorter slopes on the west and south sides. The north side was a short, easily scalable cliff, even for a six-year old. The cliff did afford a way to sneak up on those on top of the hill.
Cow pies were plentiful as cattle freely roamed the acres behind the fence and the climate was dry – this part of Washington State is a high desert. The cow pies were usually about a foot in diameter and a couple inches thick. Each pie would break up into several throwing size clods. Nobody like being hit with them, but they weren’t dangerous because they were rock free and would usually “explode” into harmless but smelly powder when they hit something or somebody.
On that day I did not hear the initial call to pies. But I did notice the commotion a little later. Quickly, I ran to the fence and crossed it. It is not easy to cross a barbed-wire fence by yourself. It is better if you have someone holding the strands apart a little, but I made it without ripping my shirt or pants.
I found a friend sneaking up the hill. “Can I be on your team?” I asked. “Sure” he said. So I quickly ran to gather an ample supply of pies. As might be expected, being late, the supply of these coveted missiles was in short supply, at least near the hill. So I scurried off to find some pies but quickly got out of sight of the hill. Finally finding enough pies, always careful to watch for rattlers (you’re right, another story), I headed back to the hill circling around so that I approached the hill from the cliff so as not to be observed.
I carefully cradled the pies while I scaled the short rocky cliff. The climb was not difficult just slow – didn’t want to drop any pies so I could only use one hand to pull myself up.
A minute or two later I was able to peer over the cliff to the top of the hill. To my surprise the top was empty. Getting fully on top there was no one, anywhere, just cow pie debris. Sad at first, I consoled my self by tossing the pies – a chunk at a time at a nearby fence post.
I was king of the hill; no one took the hill when I was king! I soon followed the other boys. I arrived home with dirty hands, more than slightly thankful I had not been hit by a ton of cow pies.
3 years ago