My dad’s story continued from yesterday:
Several days later, my brother and I were playing outside in the hot weather. I don’t remember any shade trees near the house. We went up on the porch where it was cooler. Jerry saw a half glass of water setting on the porch railing. All of a sudden he made a bee-line for it and drank that water in two gulps. The only thing was, it was kerosene! My parents rushed him to the hospital, and I don’t know what all they did to him, but he lived. For several days afterwards everything at our house was all about my poor little brother (who was bigger than I was). I think I became bored with all this. I had no one to play with and no one was paying any attention to me, so I left home.
I thought I was a grown man, and I remember hearing people singing, “Go west, young man, go west.” A movie by that name came out that year, so maybe I remember hearing lyrics from it. Well, I actually decided I would go west, so I left home. I had to go a mile north before I could go west. I was familiar with the first half mile as it went by the Kellerman place. In the ranch country in those years there were high embankments on each side of the road, so nowadays it would look like a dry canal. The hot sun was shining brightly as I walked barefooted on the hot red Oklahoma dirt to the first section line. There I turned to the left to go west. I could only imagine what must be out there near the sunset.
I was excited about my adventure. I was going west, all right, though at this hour there was no sunset; however, I imagined seeing the beautiful landscape of the world. Everything was going perfectly, but I couldn’t see too far west because of the hills I was approaching. As I was deep in thought, a car pulled up beside me and tooted its horn. I was surprised to note it was our rural mail carrier. He asked me where I was going, and I told him west. He wanted to know west to where and I said, “Just west, that’s all.” He smiled and chatted with me for a few minutes and said he would take me part of the way, which he did. Eventually, however, he turned around and took me back home. On the way back to our house he told me that if I would never run away again, he would bring me a Popsicle or a balloon each day. These were extremely rare treats, so I agreed. After that, I would wait for him every day by the mailbox. Sure enough, he always kept his promise until we moved away from there a year or so later. And I kept my promise–until I was 14.