Howitzer over Suberbia

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
These are short stories about my life growing up in a small town in Washington State

Submitted: July 12, 2017

A A A | A A A

Submitted: July 12, 2017



Table of Contents (Stories to follow)  


1.  Howitzers over suburbia

2. Yamaha Moto bike

3. Blowing up the Unger’s mailbox

4. My dad can sell anything beef jerky

5.Killing the turtles at Winjum's

6. Snowball fight in the house

7. Icing the hill for sledding

8. Pop roc sales a NVE

9. Sleeping with a brick

45. Sauerkraut canning at home

46. Washing weenies

10. Baby food surfing

11. Cleaning and repacking baby food for Charlie

12. Indian halibut fish trip

13. Mail truck sunk in the mud

14. Jumping the mail truck

15. Mail truck cat skateboard

16. Mail truck jumping over wall

17. Mail truck and the  helicopter

18. Cut my leg off with a chainsaw

19. Allen krainbuel and the naked girl in my locker


21. Wild turkey first time

22. Ordering 26, 55 barrels of oil for the sps40

45 shell dropped in et shop. Dot blower tool

23. Hanging mike f Leake

24. Styx calibrating the shm

25. Blow the dca  

26. Signal gen up the mac

27. Gear closet and the EMO

28. The hurricane in Alaska chilkoot Charlie’s and the bus incident

29. The visit to Portland for the rose festival and the 10 people in the CRX

30. Flash light in SD bay

31. ST and the DOT blower

32. Navy and the condom hatch incident

33. Wog day

34. I speak a good English

35.  Visit to India

36. QG in the Persian Gulf

37. Cat in the dash laptop RFI

38. Brut hairs having his way with me at the flat

39. Passing food down the conveyer with the ph chief

40. Playing rugby with the Singapore national team

41. Las Vegas 2 weddings 1 invited

42. Passport Seattle

43. Father truck in camp ground

44. Iron on the chest in BEE



I was about seven a typical boy in 1973 times were different then.  During the summer it was not uncommon for us to get up grab a Twinkie or in my case a pickle as my mother did not believe in such frivolous snacks or so called breakfast foods.  We would head out with our bikes and you may see us at lunch but most likely it was at dinner 11 hours later. Then after a 45 min dinner it was out to play for another 3 hours until the sun went down or you were called in.  Unless you were Kenny, his mom made him check in every two to three hours, he always had to stop and do a check in, life really sucked for Kenny.  People ask me why I am the way I am today I could tell them it is because my sister ran over me twice with the Dodge station wagon when I was 3. But mostly I think it was from my dad and his ability to see the glass as half full even when it was cracked and slowly leaking water onto my mother’s table.  Or his sense of humor and ability to see the good in all things, Yes life was good in 1973.

We lived in a small town next to a much larger city; it was established in 1925 and has a long heritage of fishing, logging and shipbuilding.  It was the kind of town where you know most people there was a baseball field in the center with the pool that I learned to swim at.  My father used to take me to a older gentleman downtown to get my haircut at the barber shop my dad and I would get a trim and I usually would have it shaved off in back and on top like a aircraft carrier. After we got our hair cut we would walk up to the Food King and get an ice cream, then head home. The town was a bedroom community from the shipyards and the sawmills, people would work all day building or selling something then drive over the hill 3 miles to our little town to live.  It was and is a nice place a small town with lots of character.

It was on one of those summer days in July that began the greatest summer an 8 year old could ever have one that I remember with fondness and pain.  That summer started like any other long hot days in the north 16 hrs of sunlight and 85 degrees,  we were Boys, pure boys most of us anyway, some  of us were chicken.

My parents had just built a new house by themselves in a new development. At that time there were only 10 homes out of a possible 100 or so.  Across the street lived my best friend mike, and down the street lived Kenny and my other friend David.  We were the 4 musketeers, always causing or getting into trouble.  On this particular summer day we were walking through the grass fields of the undeveloped lots in our new neighborhood and Kenny made a find. It was a sling shot arm, not just any arm but it stood three and a half feet high with a v on the top of approx 20 inches the diameter of the stem was about 4.5 inches. It went up to the top of the y to a perfect 1 inch diameter. This was a slingshot that needed to be built. We decided right there that we had to create a super secret operation to construct the launcher.  It must not fall into enemy hands namely our brothers or parents. We were going to meet the next day to start design and construction of the sling shot. We left the y in the field because if anyone saw us carry out a big y out of the woods the gig would be up. And who but us would pick up a stick/log except to burn and it was late June. We still buried it with other logs and sticks we found to camouflage it.

So the next day we met to start assembly it was decided to make it a mobile sling shot for that we needed something to hall it around with. I do not know where Kenny came up with it but today I am sure there was some little kid who was missing his radio flier wagon, we probably scared him or her for life. Step two of the plan was to cut a hole into the bottom of the wagon.  This took a long time with a drill and snips and a hack saw. You need to understand the utmost secrecy we were working under, this was our Manhattan project, any security leaks would spell cretin doom and or unit confiscation, POW at each of our houses Next came a bucket fit into the center of the whole.  Mike provided the bucket from his dad’s garage. Lastly we needed concrete which I provided thanks to my parents, we were in the process of building concrete walls at our new house in the garden. We cemented the sling shot into the bucket with a slight upward angle of a few degrees.  Mike provided several feet of surgical tubing to use as the sling.  It was getting dark so we decided to try the device know named the Betty the mobile howitzer the next day


The day was a typical June day in western Washington cool mornings and long hot afternoons the field grass in the area typical grows to about 3 feet high then dry’s in the hot summer sun. We decided to do our first live fire from the local field next door. We called it the turkey farm as it had been a turkey farm in its past.  We set up the howitzer about 150 yards from the back of mikes fence. Pointed at the screen door windows of course, we need something to aim at. Our first attempt was a dry fire mike pulled back on the rubber bands and the wagon came with him.  We had to drop back and regroup after successfully chalking the wheels and testing with a dry fire it was time for live ammo.

I found a suitable rock about the size of a large grape we placed it in the web and walked back about 5 feet and let her go, the rock left the breach with such velocity that resounding pffft was heard.  And we had not even pulled back all the way.  With another rock in hand we pulled back all the way and heard a pffft, bang the band was it hitting mikes fence 150 yards across the field. We also notice that we had invented the weed wacker. But after 10 or 20 pffft, bangs it got boring mike had to go home and Kenny had to go to some family thing so we decided to meet tomorrow for phase two.  We hid the howitzer at my house under a tarp.

Day two was another beautiful summer day; we assembled at the designated point for howitzer transportation. Mike brought with him the ammo 3 baskets full of golf balls he creatively acquired from his dads garage.  We rolled the gun up to the end of the street which was a bluff overlooking the small town of Fircrest.  This area was a hilly area left over from when the bull dozers had cleared the lots and built the road.  Now it was mounds of grassy hills 15 feet high or so we selected the tallest pointing toward downtown. Chocked the wheels which in our case meant we buried them.  Picture a wagon at the top of a hill 15 feet in the air angled down the hill at a 45 deg.  We were ready for a test fire we took a golf ball and put it in the web pulled it back 10 feet and let go.  It hit the y re adjust the angle of wagon and retest. Now imagine 3 kids standing around a wagon and letting go of the sling shot and watching the golf ball just clean disappear,  cool we looked at each other and said fire for effect.

We had a system, Kenny went and pulled the tubing down to the same point every time, I handed mike the ball, mike placed in the breach and released. Kenny was already up on the hill ready to get the tube again to reload.  Now think of what we are doing at the time we were just dumb kids it never occurred to us.  First golf balls are meant to fly, second we pulled the tubing back to the same point every time.  And what goes up must come down that whole gravity thing.

Now we had three buckets of balls about 250 or so we launched all of them in about 5 min, fire for effect, we were having a great time when we got done we sat down and laugh and joked.

Then it happened, the man came a calling we heard the sirens coming from about a mile off we ran to our designated safe spots. To wait it out we heard the coppers come up the street and stay for a while then they left. We all came out from our safe spots.  I do not know where Kenny or mikes safe spot was, nor did they know mine that prevented one of us from fingering the other guy if he was captured. We went to the scene of the crime and our howitzer was gone as well as our baskets.

Later that night on the news there was a story about a golf ball shelling in Fircrest; it seems windows of cars were broken hoods dented shingles taken off roofs, and all within an 800 foot circle on a street in Fircrest. The one lady who witnessed the chaos was reported as saying “they just came out of the sky and fell everywhere breaking everything” My Father looked at me and asked me  “do you know anything about this Paul “  nope nothing  I replied.


I was maybe 8 or 9 I had a old bike a schwinn coaster brake model with ballooned tires that was handed down from my brother it had scratched paint, a bent rim, and so many holes in the seat I lost count. I think most of you know what I am talking about a single speed, coaster brake, no fenders or chain guards so you had to tuck your pant leg into your sock when you went riding so you did not bite it.  But it was mine and I loved it, even with all of its scratches and dents.  Until the Yamaha shock bike, a bike for the ages.  Yellow like a real motorcycle front and rear shocks, cool handlebars, Yamaha on the side. Every kid within a thousand miles wanted one but they set you back some coin, way more than my parents we going to pay for a bike I had a perfectly good hand-me down.  It was the coolest thing in bikes Kenny, David or I had ever seen and mike had one.  We all wanted to ride it but mike only would let us for a few minutes and certainly not off a jump.  This was a time in history when Evil Ken veal was big and as youths in Washington we wanted to be just like him.  If there was something to jump over we would find it, anything we rode our bikes off of ever increasing jumps, on this particular day we went down to an area by our house we called Poda Checks.  It was a very large forest filled with animals and trails about 6 miles square we could ride all day in the woods under the trees and frequently did.  On this day we were building jumps at the bottom of a trail and jumping off them.  After each jump we would build it higher and do it again.  We used to creatively acquire lumber from the houses being built in the area and use them for forts and jumps and such.  Today we were jumping starting at 1 foot level we all went off without issue, so we raised the ramp to 14 inches and went off again no problems. 16, 20 we skipped 18 because we had a 4x4 then we went to 24 inches and David dropped out, we all called him chicken BAC, BAC, BAC, chicken and continued to jump.

You see this was a test of manhood and we all knew it, even if we did not say it. Mike thought he was the best because he had the Yamaha even if he wasn’t. The ramp was extended from 4 feet long to 6 feet long with newly acquired plywood.  We sent David to get some as the newly crowned chicken he had to do the dirty work now. We want to 28 inches and we went off but Kenny fell bad popped a tire skinned a knee and his face, we basically killed Kenny, so he was out of the competition, still a man as he did not give up, he went down in combat.We went to 30 and both mike and I went off. Next came 36 and we were out of lumber to build it higher but we needed a new ramp, David did come through he went and found and 18 wide piece of ½ thick plywood 8 feet long.  Perfect we used the 4 foot piece as a pre-ramp and the 8 foot piece as a bridge in the middle between the jump end and the end. We thought we had a nice 12 foot long ramp, Cool. I told mike to go first but he wouldn’t he said for me too I called him a chicken, he then called me one and so the chicken name calling continued for a few min, until I said I would go on it if I could us the Yamaha shock  bike, more heavy negotiations. He only agreed after I told him I would do it from the top of dead man’s drop, Mike finally relented, so I took the bike and rode off to hear mike yelling at me to not scratch it. You see the area we were at was below a large hill that the bottom was fairly flat leading to the small clearing with a canopy of Douglas fir trees, old growth trees 24-36 inches in diameter 200 feet tall.  The top of the hill was a drop, dead man’s drop near vertical drop about 25 feet down to a steady 50 degree hill the slowly leveling to flat ground in the clearing where the jump was set up where the LZ was.

I took the bike to the top of the drop and sat there waiting and looking over the edge deciding if my manhood was worth this. Then I hear from the clearing  bac,bac,bac, chicken bac,bac,bac, chicken you’re a chicken you won’t do it. With that I swallowed hard and went over the drop I was going to prove to them that I was the best and prove my manhood was better than Mike's.  If you have ever ridden a 1 speed coaster bike there is a point where you reach terminal velocity where no amount of pedaling will make you go any faster. I hit that at about 40 feet down the hill it was all up to gravity now. I got to the bottom of the hill and I guess I was doing about 25 to 30 MPH I lined up on the ramp and prepared to hit it. I was evil kenvel with no helmet as I started up the ramp things started to get interesting.  The first 4 feet went well it was the next 8 that caused a few issues. Imagine a ½ piece of plywood suspended between two points and a moving heavy object coming on the end at the low point.  As I moved down the ramp the ramp started to deflect by the time my whole body was on there I had significantly changed the launch angle of the jump. I am not sure what happened next but I was told by eye witness it was cool, it seems the jump support fell not all the way just a few inches a 2x4 or 2 it squirted out nearly hitting Kenny.  I went mostly vertical about 12 feet that is where I hit the tree branch the big one 8 inches in dia I was ok though as I used my head to hit it. It did knock me off the bike where I fell to the ground backwards onto my head to break my fall.

I remember waking up with three boys standing over me I tried to get up but I fell back down and my head really hurt they told me I was out for about a minute or so. I decided to lay there for a while until I could get up as I could hardly stand. That took a long time about 15/20 min. They thought I might be dead but I was still breathing so they knew I would be ok.  When I finally got up I said I wanted to go home because I had a headache and I could not see very well.  And I scraped my elbow and my Head when I hit the tree and fell, I bleed all over my clothes oh great I was in trouble for getting blood on my clothes.  Mike was mad at me, I had scratched the Yamaha and popped the tire, I pushed my old bike home as I could not ride it very well, the whole balance thing.

When I got home I told my mother that I fell on my bike and I had a headache and I was sorry for the blood, I was going to go lay down this was about 4 pm on a summer day at 9 am the next morning I woke up.  I felt much better we went out and started jumping again this time on asphalt, it is much safer.



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