The Last of the South Town Rinky Dinks - Excerpt 26 - 2018


We made kites out of newspaper and glue out of water and flour, and used straight weeds for sticks. We'd tie on a tail made of socks or strips of worn out bed sheets, and run around in the yard for hours trying to get it to fly. And if we stayed with it long enough, and if a good strong breeze came up, we'd get the homemade toy in the air.

More than once I made wings out of big sheets of cardboard and tried to fly. I tried to fly off the coal house, and out of the sugar maple tree, and I tried to fly across the little branch down behind the house, but every time I only got off the ground for a couple of seconds at a time. If I climbed up on the coalhouse, took a good running start, and jumped as far as I could, I could fly just exactly as far as I could jump. When the jump force wore off, so did the flight. At that point, I usually flew straight down. Very quickly, I might add.

Once I made a great big kite and took it over to a hill in the South Town woods. This was a huge kite, made of the sides of a cardboard refrigerator box and some strong pieces of scrap wood I'd found. I tied a short piece of rope to the cross members of the kite, and held on for dear life. When I felt the wind kick up and began to blow, I picked up the kite, positioned it over my head, and started running down the hill as fast as I could. When I felt the wind lift the kite, I leaped into the air as high as my twelve year old legs would propel me. Sure enough, I flew downhill for maybe twenty or thirty feet before the kite buckled from the combination of my weight and the strong wind. When I picked myself up and found that no bones were broken, I knew then that flying with a kite was possible. It was only a matter of the right material, the right wind conditions, and something a little higher to jump off of. I also decided to try again. The problem was getting a big cardboard box. It was rare that anyone in South Town got a new refrigerator, so I didn't have a lot of natural resources. In fact, I never did try it again. Of course, a lot of other people did. And they proved it works. Sometimes I still wonder what would have happened if the kite had been a little stronger and I'd have caught a really good updraft. Actually I know what would have happened. I'd have killed my dang fool self. There would have been Rinky Dink splattered all over the South Town woods.

The Rinky Dinks were introduced to gambling in a game of marbles. We'd draw a big circle in the dirt, each boy would line up five of his own marbles on a line drawn in the center of the circle, and we'd take turns shooting until all the marbles had been knocked out of the circle. You got to keep every marble you could knock out. It was that simple. Or that hard. Marble games were mostly warm up periods for the fight that was sure to follow. Let your shooting hand slip an inch across the line, and you knew somebody was going to call you on it. That was called fudging and it just wasn’t allowed. We called this variation of marbles "Keeps" and that's what we played for.

There were other marble games, some of which we played now and then, but "Keeps" was by far the most popular of them all. All of us carried a little sack full of marbles around with us, and would play most anytime. "Keeps" was the chief contributor to aching thumbs, scuffed up shoe toes, and worn out blue jean knees.

But hands down, of course, the game we played the most was ball.

Baseball, softball, football, basketball, any kind of ball. Every single day we played ball. We used real balls, when we had 'em, and home made balls when real ones weren't available. We played with rubber balls, hard balls and balls made from socks rolled up and sewed together.



Never think you're insignificant in the big picture. Remember, a flood cannot happen until the one raindrop falls that puts more water into the river than the banks can hold, and you may be that raindrop. The Rinky Dink Wisdom of E. Don Harpe


Copyright 1994/2018 Ernest D. Harp & Flint River Press

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