Middle-of-Nowhere, 1959 (10MWC-Neighbor)

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It was 1959.


I was 11 years old.


We were living in an odd neighborhood. I didn't know it was odd then, but looking back, it seems like something out of a cartoon. Or a science fiction movie.


It was called Mineral Heights.


I grew up in Mineral...about 8 miles away. Actually, I grew up in the middle of nowhere...on an oilfield lease...about 3 miles from Mineral.


Then, here we were, living in Mineral Heights.


Movin' on up.


Mineral Heights was this: a row of 22 isolated houses on an isolated caliche street.


Caliche is crushed limestone and in South Texas, it coats everything around it.


If you could see Mineral Heights from the air, I think it would have looked like one of God's cosmic jokes. 


And it would have reminded you of just how alone we all are in this universe.


The 22 houses...old oilfield camp houses that had been moved in...contained 22 kids.


And some old retired oilfield people.


Some angels, some devils.


Not in the Biblical sense.


More like psuedo angels and devils.


Not even that, really.


The closest town, Pettus (I wonder why our neighborhood wasn't called 'Pettus Heights'), was down the hill about a mile away.


On one side of our house, lived the girl I would later marry.


On the other side of our house, lived the girl with whom I would have my first awkward sexual encounter.


Across the street, lived the boy who would become my best friend.


He had a speech impediment, a younger brother, a beautiful older sister and a dog with an unfortunate name.


The 22 kids in our neighborhood were evenly split-11 boys...11 girls.


One of the girls had polio as a child and wore a leg brace.


One of the boys was a bully.


One of the boys was an idiot.


Most were just your run-of-the-mill kids.


My two brothers were cool. The coolest boys in the neighborhood.


It didn't take much to win that honor.


At the end of the block, lived a girl and her brother.


They would have sock hops in their garage.


We thought they were rich, because their little oilfield house had a garage.


So most of the 22 kids would go to the sock hop.


Girls on one side, boys on the other.


It was oddly formal.


We would do the the 'Shottish, the 'Put-Your-Little-Foot, the "Jitterbug'...and later the 'Twist' and 'Stroll'.


I was one of the best 'strollers'.


Or at least I thought I was.


We would have rubber gun fights...BB gun fights...firecracker fights...fistfights.


We (my brothers and I) once blew a large chunk of concrete out of one of our neighbors'...old retired oilfield people...concrete porch, with a cherry bomb.


I felt bad about it.


But I was really impressed that a cherry bomb could do that.


I'm sure those old folks hated living among all us kids.


Oh, they had a pomegranite tree. 


Sorry for the non-sequitur...but there was just something about that tree.


It was the only thing that seemed strange about that neighborhood to me at the time.


In hindsight, it was probably the only thing normal about that neighborhood.


Over the years, we would find pieces of tombstones...some with dates...I remember one with '1863' on it.


Seems Mineral Heights was built on top of an old cemetery.


That explains a lot.

Created: Apr 03, 2014

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