This is me at about age 5 or 6. I'm sitting next to my good buddy, Doug. He lived next door. I'm on the right, Doug on the left.
For endless hours we'd play cowboys. I'd be Roy Rogers and Doug would be Gabby Hays. Then we'd switch. I was Gabby and he was Roy.
We'd fight once in a while over who would be who. Neither of us really wanted to be Gabby Hays. Gabby was old, scraggly and a bad shot. Roy could shoot, rope, sing and always got the girl.
We'd also pretend to be the Lone Ranger and Tonto. We would also play cowboys and indians.
After a while we'd tire of shooting imaginary bad guys. That's when we'd play cowboys and indians. And guess what? We'd argue over who would be the cowboy and who would be an indian. The indian always got play killed or was strung up by his ankles by a rope swung around the highest tree limb we could throw it around. We were usually playing cowboy against bad guy when it came to hanging time.
Once in a while I hung Doug up by his ankles and leave him. I'd go in the house, take a leak, get a drink, talk to mom all the while indian Doug hung upside down tethered to a rope swung around the old willow tree. Doug would cry and I'd have to shut him up by hauling him down.
I'd generally get in hot water over hanging Doug and leaving Dodge. Doug would always tattle either to his mom or my mom. They'd make us stop playing for the rest of the day. Next day we'd forget what had happened the day before and start all over again.
My family moved to Alaska for a couple of years leaving our home in the care of an aunt and uncle. When we returned home the idea of playing cowboys and bad guys or indians didn't seem like much fun. So Doug and I created a TV studio in his bedroom complete with a camera made out of a shoebox, a couple of bright light bulbs with out shades and so on. It was lots of fun. Just like cowboys and indians we'd argue over who would read the news or sports and who would be the cameraman.
Then we got the idea of digging tunnels under his fence and into the neighbors field. With spoons we dug and we dug and we dug. Once we had tunneled under the fence we carved out a large underground area that had plenty of room for the two of us.
The dirt must have been clay or something like clay for where ever we tunneled it never caved in. Lucky for us.
We were only home from Alaska for another couple of years then dad got the bug to move to Northern California. I hated leaving my friends, my school mates, the house I loved and my good friend Doug.
Doug went on to graduate from college with a degree in communications. He retired as news director for a large television station in San Jose.
I also spent some time in television hosting and producing programs. And to think that interest started in Doug's bedroom with our makeshift television studio.
I pity most of the kids growing up today. They spend most of their after school and summer time in front of a TV or in front of a computer or playing video games or texting on their I-phones. What they're missing is a wonderful part of being a child. . . a chance to explore, use the imagination and think on their own. They'll never dig tunnels. Never play cowboys and indians (probably would have been replaced by good cop against the homies). Never even think of hanging a good buddy up by the ankles. Never create a television studio. They'll never ever know what they're missing out on. Never.
Doug and I remain in contact and e-mail once in a while. Our friendship is nothing like it used to be. As we write back and forth I never get the feeling that old friend Doug wants to get together. I'm thinking Doug just might be thinking I'd hang him up by the ankles and leave him there.
And he's right. I would. There's still a little bit of old west cowboy in me.