An Odd Duck In A Crowded Pond

Don’t Believe What You Hear…It’s All Bull, And Then Some…

From the time I was a child, I was a bit skeptical of life in general. Blissfully ignorant with a tendency to play with the dust particles in the light of the window. My mother, bless her soul, thought me to be a bit touched, maybe from the Scarlet Fever I contracted at six years old to the concussion I suffered from falling on an iced sidewalk that same year. No matter the affliction, I was a feral child; the neighborhood was my jungle.

My little sister, five years younger, was spared the affliction, leading to a childhood of normalcy. I suspected I was the doomed child, the voodoo Chile, way before Jimi Hendrix wrote the tune. Not quite the walking brain-feasting zombie, but somewhere in between, I lived an existence in the Twilight Zone, not knowing what the next day would bring. Rod Serling could have been my Godfather. Captain Kangaroo scared me shitless, as well as his pal Mister Greenjeans. I thought Howdy Doody was a real kid with strings attached to his limp limbs. Icky Twerp was my hero. I was a good kid with streaks of inconsolable incorrigible rebellion that possessed me like a demon from hell. My paternal grandmother refused to be in the same room with me for many years, and then it was only to prepare me Campbell’s Bean Soup, which she was convinced was the favorite of young demonic possessed children. I was baptized so many times my skin was permanently shriveled. I had no idea of my afflictions. Having spent every Sunday in the hard wooden pews of the Poly Baptist Church, I was guaranteed a seat in Heaven, or so I believed.

Age and height rectified most of the imagined curse, but still, I suffered from a contrived family affliction. My Aunt Norma, a kindly bookish woman who loved Wejie Boards, Tarot Cards, and howling at the full moon at two in the morning, thought that she gave me a kindred spirit, of which I was not. I was a kid that liked to write stupid stories in a Big Chief Tablet and mail them to the Fort Worth Press Newspaper. Years went by with no response. It was as if I never existed as a writer, but then, those were the years that I believed myself to be the next Mark Twain, and that belief was unshakeable. If I couldn’t become Mark Twain, at least I was destined to be the next John Steinbeck, even though he was still alive and kicking and was working on his Homeric tribute to his dog and America, “Travels With Charley.” I could have written that book; it was there in my oatmeal mush brain, but the puzzle pieces were missing.

To most of us, childhood was a mystery that disappoints us, then we grow up and realize it was the best time of our lives.

9 Replies to “An Odd Duck In A Crowded Pond”

    1. That’s great for you. Somewhere between ten and forty seem to be good years, once in your 70s, nostalgia kicks in, and of course all that goes with that wear and tear starts to irritate ones soul.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I agree…childhood was awesome but at the time I was itching to grow up…then when I did grow up…I was itching to be young again. I never knew how good I had it…we were far from rich or even middle class but my little world was great. No big responsibilities or urgent matters to attend to…except Saturday Morning cartoons.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I, also, wanted to be a writer. I was spurred along by Mrs. Mischen as she was constantly telling me what a good story teller I was. I took my Senior English class in summer school so I’d have enough credits to leave high school at mid-term of my senior year. Remember 1969? Anyway, on to College and Journalism Class. And parties. And pubs. And, way too much beer and smoke. Anyway. I am what I am, which is no longer a writer. I’m glad you kept it up, Johnny. I enjoy your work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Tracy. It took a long while for me to rediscover what I loved about writing, but it eventually took hold. Mrs. Mischen was a guiding light in my life, as was Mr. Green. Without their encouragement, I would have remained a kid with a big chief tablet. Thanks for remembering and commenting about the high school days. It’s never too late to start again, give it a shot.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The best parts of my childhood were on my maternal grandmother’s small farm. I pretty much lived with her, mostly from birth to three. My parents were very young and I was an accident. I had the barefoot run of the place, with fresh farm food, homemade birthday cakes, my grandmother’s dog & stray cats to play with.

    Right after being three, my mother promptly took me away from my grandmother’s farm and threw me into a nursery/daycare. I guess there was a motherly power struggle going on and my mother won. I lost. I remember being abandoned there, watching my mother walk away and banging desperately on the glass door. I would have been better off with my grandmother. I wouldn’t be in 1st grade for another three years (no such thing as Kindergarten back then, where I was).

    I miss that place. I spent my summers there, playing with cousins. My mom & her four brothers sold the property some years ago and it went for millions, the property backing up to a retirement community and Alzheimer’s ward. 😭


    1. Your reccollections have a sad path, that I’m certain more children walked that road. Perhaps you should write about them? I believe you would be surprised at the number of older adults that had similar lives. Grandmothers and some Grandfathers are special people in the lives of their offsprings young ones. I was a lucky one that had good ones on both sides, not always love-love-Panda stuff, but solid caring folks. Write some more on this part of your life, it is cleansing and will lift a burden from your heart. Maybe that’s why I do it, but not many folks see it that way. My younger sister, five years to be exact has never read one of my 200 plus short stories, or shown any interest in me as a writer, so that is a mystery I have yet to grasp. Keep writing.


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