What Happened to Baby Cameron?
by: E Walk
(© 2009 by the Author)

The author retains all rights. No reproductions are allowed without the author's consent. Comments are appreciated at...

Chapter 38  

Mending Fences


After everyone finally departed the ranch, Cam came to me and put his hands on my thighs, “Dad, you gotta promise us that you won’t run away again.  Our nerves can’t stand that.  You gotta get better so you can take care of all of us boys.   I’m sorry I even asked you what Uncle Wayne meant when he told Daddy that you were usurping his authority.  Everything that has happened is my fault, isn’t it?”


I pulled Cam on my lap, “Son, none of what has happened is your fault.  We big people have all been acting like kids.  We need to stop worrying about what has happened, and hopefully, we can be a stronger family because of what happened.  Where are the other guys?”


I hadn’t seen the boys come into the room, but I heard Randy say, “Daddy, we’re here.  We just want you to promise that you won’t leave us again.”


“Guys, I promise.”


After dinner, I decided to go to bed again, because I was emotionally drained by the events of the day. I was almost asleep when Ricky came in, “Daddy, aren’t you going to kiss us goodnight?”


I hugged Ricky, “Go tell the guys it’s their turn to come kiss me goodnight.  They’re much younger than I am.”


I watched as Ricky went out the door.  He returned almost immediately with the other four guys who crawled onto the bed.  Ricky asked, “Daddy, who do you want to kiss you goodnight, first?”


“Why don’t we start with biggest first.”


Cam asked, “Sorry Dad, you’ll have to explain what you mean.  Are you talking about the being the tallest, then it’s Tony.  If you’re talking about who has the biggest feet, then it's Randy.  If you’re talking about who has the biggest mouth, I win, hands down.  If you’re talking about who has the biggest penis, you’ll have to measure them.”


Hank had been standing in the doorway, “Cameron, what are you saying?”


“I was just saying that our penises are all about the same size right now.  Do you want us to drop our briefs so you can check?”


I was laughing, “Cam, that won’t be necessary.  Why don’t we go by size.  I’ll start with the youngest of you who is Ricky and work my way up the age pole.”


I kissed Ricky and he stood beside the bed, and when I kissed Tony, all five boys stood at attention and saluted.   Randy asked, “Will that be all, sir?”


“Yes, thank you.  You’re dismissed.”


I watched as the five guys marched out the door, but as soon as Ricky was out of sight, I heard the five boys laughing.  Cam remarked, “I think Dad will be okay, now.”


Hank looked at me, “Steve, are you going to be okay?”


“Hank, I’ll be fine.  Right now, I’m angry at myself for upsetting our five boys so much.  I hope I haven’t damaged the relationship between Wayne and the four Martin boys.”


“Steve, I’ve spoken with Wayne and he realizes that he has made some strategic mistakes.  After all, it’s not everyone who has four guys dumped in their lap.  He really would like for them to accept him.  But what happened to Chad is going to make it difficult to mend that fence.  You need to take Damon for his appointment, tomorrow, as well as Gaylen, on Friday.  After that, you need to try to back away and let Wayne handle the problems.”


Hank wasn’t finished, “If we have any indication that Wayne isn’t taking care of the boys properly, then we’ll bring them here.”


I looked at Hank, “What’s going to happen to Linda and how is it going to impact on the four boys?”


“Steve, that’s another question that I can’t answer.  Both Chad and Damon were aware of their mother’s drinking problem.  She was so debased by her husband that I’m not sure she will be able to overcome what happened to her.  As for the four boys, we need to be watchful to see if they need any psychological help.  I not so much worried about Terry, and I think Chad can handle it.  It’s Damon and Len that I’m concerned about.”


“Hank, when I’m with the two guys this week, I’ll see if I can pick up on anything.  I don’t think anything will manifest itself this fast, but perhaps I can pick up on something.  Take your shower, if you're going to take one, and get into bed.  I’m getting tired.”


We were awakened the next morning by Cam, “Rise and shine.  If you’re going to take us to school, then you need to come eat breakfast.  Grandma Ellie is concerned that you’re going to blow away in the wind.”


I looked at Cam, “Did Grandma Ellie really say that?”


“Not exactly.  She said if you didn’t get your fat butts downstairs immediately, you could fix your own breakfast.”


Hank sat up, “Cam, what is it your trying to say?”


“Okay, breakfast is going to ready in twenty minutes.  There, are you happy now?”


After Cam had departed, Hank looked at me, “Steve, where did we go wrong with that one?”


“Hank, I don’t think we went wrong.  He’s a very perceptive young man.  He was just making sure that everything was okay.”


As we were finishing breakfast, I looked at Grandma Ellie, “You and Grandpa T. will need to pick the guys up at the Academy, today, since Damon’s appointment with the dermatologist is at two forty five.  We’ve been taking Terry to the house on the hill, so you’ll probably have to do likewise, and sometimes his friend Andy catches a ride with us.”


Ellie reacted as I thought she might, “Honestly, if I’m going to be a taxi driver, then I need to be properly recompensed.”


Cam asked, “What does that mean?  What does recomfenced mean?”


Ellie was trying desperately not to laugh, “It means, I need to be paid for doing all the work I do around here, and making sure that you guys have enough to eat.”


Cam pointed at his Dad, “Daddy, give Grandma Ellie a dollar more each week so she won’t quit.”


Ellie sniffled, “Your Daddy is so cheap that he only pays me fifty cents a week and I have to give him half of it to pay for my apartment.”


The five guys were looking at Hank.  Tony asked, “Is that really true, Mr. Rodgers?”


Ellie answered, “Guys, I was being silly.  Your Dads pay me very adequately.  We’ll pick you up at three and we’ll grab a gooey snack when your Dads aren’t around.”


When I dropped the boys off at the school, Wayne was waiting for us, “Steve, are you going to take Damon to his appointment or do you want me to?”


“Wayne, I promised Damon that I would go with him.  I’ve made arrangements for Ellie and Grandpa T. to pick up the boys, including Terry, and Andy, if he needs a ride.  You need to worry about what happens when the boys get home.”


I was getting ready to pull away from the school when one of the fifth grade teachers came up to the van, “Mr. Michaels, we need your help.  We had a special speaker scheduled to make a presentation to our classes this morning about growing up in the old days.  The person had an illness in the family and had to cancel at the last minute.”


I looked at the gentleman, “Why would you think I would be a good substitute?”


“Mr. Michaels, my family and I lived next door to you and your sons.  I used to play with Kevin and Jacob.  I heard you talking to my Dad on several occasion.  Besides, most of the students know who you are, and will listen to what you have to say.”


“Do you suppose you could give me a clue as to who you are?”


The young man sniffled, “I’m surprised you don’t remember.  You caused me to get a spanking when you found me giving Kevin and Jacob some beer.”


“So, you’re the kid who turned my sons into lushes.  How the heck are you, Wiley Banes, and where are your parents?”


“The parents moved to Texas to be near my sister and her family.  I was fortunate enough to get hired here at the Academy this past year.  Will you please just talk to the boys and girls and tell them what it was like when you were their age?”


“Wiley, you do realize that this not something that I’ve ever done, and I’m totally unprepared.  How long would you be wanting me to talk?  I’ll be lucky to be able to keep them entertained for fifteen minutes.”


Wiley chuckled, “You’d be surprised how easy it is to keep ten and eleven year old boys and girls entertained, especially if they think they aren’t going to have to do school work.”


“I’ll talk to them, but I wish I had some time to at least think about what I’d like to talk about.”


“Mr. Michaels, you’ll be fine.”


We went to where the fifth graders were assembled and all of sudden, I didn’t feel too well, I felt as if I should try to at least provide them with a few details of what it was like when I was growing up.”


Mr. Banes went to the front of the room, “Boys and girls, “Mr. Michaels has agreed to tell you some of the things that he remembers when he was young.  I know for a fact that he had a very different kind of life than you boys and girls, when he was growing up.  He didn’t know that he was going to be talking to you today, so please give him your attention and I’m sure that he will be glad to answer questions if you have any.”


“Thank you, Mr. Banes.  Ladies and gentlemen, as Mr. Banes said, I did not know that I was going to talking to you this morning, but I’ll try to give you some idea what it was like when I was growing up.”


“I guess the first thing I remember was when I was about four.  I remember a particular day because my Dad took me hunting with him, and he killed a deer, so we would have meat for the winter.  I guess I need to tell you this.  We lived on the side of a mountain.  We had a cabin with two rooms.  The big room was the everything room.  My parents had a small bedroom and I had to sleep in the loft when I got to be old enough.”


“Anyway, I learned to hunt animals and loved to go with my Dad when he hunted.  I was really bored on days when he would pan for gold or on days when he would decide to paint pictures of the mountains and the scenery.”  


“I was an only child.  The closest neighbor lived almost a mile away, if you went by road.  There was no one around but my parents, so if I had to go to the bathroom I would just go wherever, since I didn’t want to waste my time going to the outhouse.”


A young boy raised his hand, “What is an outhouse?”


“Remember, I said the cabin where we lived only had two rooms.  There was no bathroom inside the house.  An outhouse is where you went to the bathroom.  It wasn’t real close to the house, because of the odor, especially in the summertime.  I don’t remember ever seeing a bathroom like you have today, until I was about eight, when we were visiting an aunt and uncle.  They had a bathroom, and I remembered how amazed I was that they had this thing that would make water come out and wash what was in the toilet down the tube.  I was so excited that I kept flushing the toilet until my Dad made me stop.  When we were eating dinner, I asked what the knobs on the wash basin were for.  Uncle Elwood said he would show me when we finished eating.”


“After dinner, Uncle Elwood took me to the bathroom and showed me how to turn the knobs on, to make the water come out.  I was amazed when he could change from hot water to cold.  I asked him what the bathtub was for.  He thought I was kidding.  That’s where we take baths,”


“I asked, how do you get the water in.  It’s a long way to carry hot water isn’t it.”


A young lady raised her hand, “Yes, miss.”


“Mr. Michaels, you mean to tell us that you really didn’t know what a bathtub was for, or what the knobs on the sink were for?”


“I hadn’t a clue.  At the cabin, we had to pump water from the well and we washed our hands and face in cold water.  Every Saturday night my Dad would bring a big tub into the house, and my Mother would heat water.  I would take my bath first, and then my parents would take their baths.  I had to empty the water from the tub the next morning.”


A hand went up, “Mr. Michaels, didn’t you go to school?”


“Yep, we went to a one room school house.  I had to walk there, because if we went by truck, it took twice as long.  There were twelve of us in the whole school.  There was only one other boy in my grade.  The rest of the kids were older than us.”


Another hand went up, “You mean that you didn’t have a bathroom at school?”


“Nope, we had two outhouses there, too.  One for boys and one for girls.”


The questions were coming fast, now, “Where did you eat your lunch?”


“We brought lunchboxes with food from home.  Most of the time we had leftover food from the night before.  I never had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich until we moved to town.  We would eat our lunches while some of the other grades were doing their lessons.”


“Mr. Michaels, how could people concentrate on school work if everyone else was doing something else?”


“That’s a good question.  I guess everyone was respectful of the other students and there never was any problem.  We knew that we would get a whipping if the teacher told our parents that we weren’t behaving properly.”


Mr. Banes stood, “We need to let Mr. Michaels go.  We’ll need to have him come back and tell the rest of the story at a later time.  We need to vacate the cafeteria so the janitor can set up the tables for lunch.”


I was surprised when the boys and girls stood and applauded.  As I was leaving, the principal stopped me, “Steve, you really should prepare a presentation for all fifth graders in the area.  I was listening to your talk today and I think that you opened some of our young people’s eyes.  I can hardly wait to here the rest of your story.”


As I was walking out of the building, Cam came up to me, “Dad, why are you still here.  Is someone sick?”


“No, Cam.  I was talking to the fifth graders about what it was like when I was growing up.”


“Okay, I gotta take these papers to Mrs. Sittler.  I‘ll talk to you tonight.”


To be continued...


Editor's Notes:  I remember outhouses. 


I grew up on a farm.  When I was about five years old, way back in the olden days, okay, it was in 1952.  Our family moved from South Bend Indiana, to a small farm, just outside of Danville, Illinois.  I should say, we moved to Danville, and moved in with my Grandma, while my dad finished building what eventually became our garage.  He built it so we could live in it while he built our house.  I think it took him about a year to build the garage, and fit it out with separate rooms, to make it into sort of a house.  He came to Danville, and stayed with Grandma, while he was building it, and when it was nearly finished, we moved up there, too.


The house that he built was a three bedroom ranch house, and it was pretty nice.  It was MUCH nicer than the garage. 


We lived in the garage for about two years, while Dad was building the house. Of course, I was too young to do much, but I did help him a little bit.  He never put plumbing in the garage, so we had to run a hose to get water from the well to the garage. We also used a big wash tub, to bathe in. Of course, we also had an outhouse.


We did have running water, in the house, once we moved into it. We also had an electric pump, even before we moved into the house, so we didn't have to pump water by hand. The well was drilled over a hundred feet deep, and the pump and water tank were actually inside the basement of the house. 


That was a good thing, because we had cows and chickens, and of course, they needed water, too, so we installed underground pipes, out to the barn, where the cows and chickens were.  


The farm was about eight miles north of town, and the road we lived on was not paved. There was a lot of dust thrown up by the traffic on the road.  They finally paved it, sometime in the late sixties or early seventies. I had moved to Chicago a few years before that.


The school that I went to for my first seven years was a full sized public school. My dad had to drop me off in town on his way to work, because he didn't make enough money from the farm to make ends meet, he had a job in town, where he worked a few hours a day, during the week.  God, I hadn't thought about that for years.


It's funny, because I can still picture that washtub.  When I do picture it, I remember it being huge.  Ok, so I was five years old.  A lot of things looked huge to me, back then. 


I don't suppose you could call this a rant, but it was something that just popped into my head, so I thought I would share it. I hope you found it interesting. 


I'm ready for another chapter.


Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher

Posted: 05/21/10