Third Place (Big Liar) Gary Buchannon (Creston)
“Lester and the Homemade Skateboard”
I’m going to tell you a story today about my childhood. I grew up right across the street from my best friend, Lester. When me and Lester finished the sixth grade and elementary school, we were told that in the fall we’d have to get on a bus and go to a different part of the county and go to seventh grade at the junior high school.
One day a whole group of girls were surrounding this boy. And we decided we’d better see what was going on. He had brought to school with him this oblong-shaped piece of wood that had four wheels on it. He said it was a skateboard. He put it down on the ground, he stepped up on it, he rode that thing from the front of the school all the way down the sidewalk to the street below. And all the girls thought he was just the most marvelous thing that they’d ever saw. So me and Lester knew we had to get ourselves a skateboard.
We decided we’d go home and ask our dads. That evening when I got off of the bus, I went in and talked to my dad. I told him everything that happened that day, and I said, “Could you get me a skateboard?” He said, “I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I just finished putting a new roof on the chicken house out back, and the lumber from the old roof is laying out there in the backyard. So maybe you can find something you can use to make yourself one of those skatie-board things.”
I told my dad thanks and ran across the street to Lester’s house. I told him what my dad had said, and he got all excited. We ran back across the street, and we started looking through that lumber. We finally found a board that we thought would work. It was about eight inches wide and about six-and-a-half feet long.
We went into my dad’s shed, we got a hand saw, and we cut two pieces about 18 inches long. These boards had pieces of shingle and roofing paper on them, but we didn’t care – we had the boards. But now we needed wheels.
Lester said his sister had just got a pair of street skates for her birthday, and he could run across the street and get those. Lester came back with the skates and we took them apart. Now we each had a set of wheels. We had to figure some way to get them attached to the boards. We went back in my dad’s shed, and the only thing we found in it was a coffee can full of old rusty nails.
So we got those and we straightened out those as best we could. We drove those nails through those pieces of street skate, but we immediately discovered we had a problem because those nails stuck up through the boards, right where we were going to stand. We just took a hammer and pounded them back down, and we were all ready to go.
When you went up past our houses, the street went up a slow incline to the top of a hill about a half-a-mile away. We walked all the way to the top of the hill, we got out in the middle of the street, and we put down our homemade skateboards, and started down the hill.
We quickly realized we hadn’t thought this through very far, because we had no idea how we were gonna stop. These skateboards kept going faster and faster and faster. I looked over at Lester’s skateboard, and his wheels were giving off sparks. So I looked down at mine. When I looked back at Lester’s, his wheels were actually smoking. I didn’t know it at the time, but Lester had taken his skateboard home the night before. He went into the cupboard where his mom kept her little can of Three-in-One oil for her sewing machine, and he had given each one of his wheels a liberal coating of that multi-purpose lubricant.
When I looked over again, his wheels were actually on fire! I said, “Lester! Your wheels are on fire!” So I said to Lester, “Hurry up! Jump over here onto the back of my skateboard!” So Lester maneuvers himself over next to my skateboard, he bends down, and he jumps. But he doesn’t move.
Those flaming wheels had transferred the heat up through the nails we had used to attach the wheels to the board, and the nails had actually melted into the bottoms of his sneakers! And now he was stuck to the board! So I said to Lester, “Hurry up and get your shoes untied and get over here!”
By now the flames had spread to the little pieces of shingles and roofing paper that was on the board. Lester gets his shoes untied, he jumps over on the back of my board, and just at that moment, his skateboard goes shooting off into Mrs. Ledbetter’s prize rose bush and bursts into a ball of flame, just like something you’d see in the movies.
With the added weight of Lester on the back of my homemade skateboard, mine was going to disintegrate at any moment. I knew we had to get off here somehow. We had seen a lot of spy shows where they always seemed to have a grappling hook that was able to get them out of tight situations. Of course I didn’t have a grappling hook. But what I had was a large treble hook that I had taken out of my dad’s tackle box, and I attached a small rope to it. I got it out, and I started looking for some place that we could use. As luck would have it about halfway down the hill, there was a road bank on one side where the power company had attached a steel cable from the top of the road bank to the power pole on the other side to give it support. It was about 20 feet off the road surface. So this was gonna be perfect. So I told Lester to hold on, and I twirled that treble hook, and let it go. And to my surprise it went up over the cable, wrapped around about three times and caught. So I told Lester, “Hang on.” And as we were passing under that cable, the rope got tight, and it lifted us right off of that homemade skateboard and we started swinging around that cable.
Unfortunately, we only had enough momentum to carry us about halfway around the cable. And when we had reached the apex of our arc, we stopped. Now we knew that the only thing left for us to do was to plummet about 40 feet to the street below to our ultimate yet untimely deaths.
But just then I yelled back to Lester, “Flying squirrel!” And I knew Lester would know exactly what I was talking about because we had just recently seen a TV show about flying squirrels and how they didn’t actually fly and how they could only glide and they were able to do that because they had extra skin from their front legs to their back legs and all they did was spread their legs out like this and they were able to glide from one tree to the next.
Now Lester and I thought, if squirrels could do that, little boys should be able to do that too. Since we were always wearing clothes that were way too big for us because they had been given to us from some other older relative or neighbor, and because we were boys of the ‘50’s and we always kept our shirttails tucked into our jeans, we were able to pull our arms inside our shirts, stretch out our arms, and become flying squirrel boys.
So now we were plummeting down to the street below, but as we got about six feet from the street surface, the wind caught our shirts, lifted us up, and we were able to glide right on down the hill. And as luck would have it, the skateboard had lost all of its momentum now, and we were able to glide down and make two perfect two-point landings on the skateboard. We coasted into the end of my driveway, Lester hopped off, and he said to me the same thing he always said after one of our adventures, “You wanna go again?”
You can read the rest of this article in this issue of Goldenseal, available in bookstores, libraries or direct from Goldenseal.