supported them in the hole of an inverted
flower pot. We were not allowed to hold them because
my father remembered how Cousin Susie Fiske was holding one that
backfired, hitting her in the
stomach and burning her severely.
Other forms of amusement, none of which seem particularly
safe in retrospect, included racing across the fields in a two-wheel
pony cart and seeing how fast we could go over the rough terrain without
being thrown out; making our own gunpowder and packing it into
metal shells for clay pigeon shooting; climbing
up and sliding down the roofs of various buildings. The garage
was especially fun because you could slide down from the ridge-pole to
the flat roof of a wing without checking speed. On the house and barn
you had to be careful because there was nothing-ness once you were past
the gutters. I have been accused of tying Anna, at a young age, to a
parachute I made out of an umbrella and tossing her out of an
attic window. This story is not true. The
facts of the matter are that we performed a preliminary experiment with
a chair. The umbrella had no effect whatsoever in
checking the speed and the chair disintegrated when it hit the ground.
We conducted no further parachute experiments. But
we did other things nearly as dangerous. When the hayloft was
full, we dug long tunnels through the hay that usually terminated
near a window where we made a room big enough to accom-modate several
people. Fortunately there were no cave-ins.
At the edge of a field beyond the barn we built four or five
crude shacks out of rejected lumber, and we called the place Shackville.
Shackville had its own fire department — an express wagon equipped with
buckets of water and a ladder or two. From time to
time we would set fire to one of the shacks then