First posted on March 5, 2012
When my son was a child (he will surely be a grandfather soon), he and I enjoyed taking long, evening walks together during the summer months. When we began this tradition we found we had little to say to each other. Remarkably, we stuck it out, eventually discovering some very creative ways of entertaining ourselves and each other. One evening as we walked, Bill picked up a stick along the way. The discarded piece of lumber was as long as he was tall, smaller than a one by four and larger than a one by two; I don’t remember how tall he was but he was six or seven years old. We had just arrived in Phoenix from Oklahoma City and everything we did, Bill and I and his sisters Mary and Dixie and his mother, was an adventure of the best kind.
As we approached a metal light pole, Bill raised his stick like a bat and creeping up as if to attack an unsuspecting animal standing there waiting to become dinner, Bill swung the stick and with a resounding ring, the vibration of which traveled back up the stick and through the bones in his small body, landed him squarely on the sidewalk. The greatest stress to my boy was the surprise of an inanimate object fighting back. The second was to the ulna of his right arm with considerable pain centering in the wrist. I removed my shirt and then my tee-shirt, put the outer layer back on, cut and tore the tee into three-inch wide strips using a 200-year old knife that had lived in the pockets of several generations of Broom men, wrapping the resulting field bandage around his wrist. When I picked up the stick, Bill told me in a very firm tone that I should give it to him and I obeyed.
We walked on. He hit the next pole more gently; we listened to the musical tone that resulted from the blow and I reproduce the musical note with my vocal chords. By the time we returned home Bill’s wrist was swollen and we had arrived singing a melody made of the notes that had erupted from the vibrating light poles that my pole playing son had produced with his pole bat.
On the next walk we sang that melody until memorized and eventually created a silly set of lyrics; no need for ASCAP membership yet but it was a lot of fun. Tomorrow I will tell you another Father and Son story that I will entitle Humongous.