My sister-in-law asked me quite a while ago to write down some stories I remember of my brother Mark who passed away last year. I made a list of stories for her back when she asked but am just now finding the time to write down some of the stories. Here is the first in what will likely be a series of stories about my brother. Oh, and just to be on the safe side, these stories are how I remember these events; others may disagree with how things happened. These are all from a very long time ago, so there may be some errors in my memory.
In the Dog House
I don’t recall exactly what age we were, but I was probably close to 8 or 10, which means Mark would have been around 10 to 12. I also don’t recall exactly what possessed us to do what we did, but I do remember what it was we did. We were playing in our parents’ backyard with matches. If I’m not mistaken, Wenn Chaston was also there. Mark had the matches and would reward Wenn and I with a match for every piece of paper or bunch of flammable, dry weeds we found that we could light on fire. Since Mark made the hunt for tinder competitive, Wenn and I began searching for bigger and bigger objects we could burn. At some point one of us, I don’t remember who, ended up finding the neighbor’s dog house. At the time I believe it was the Dixon’s who lived in the house next door to my parents. They had a dog, but the dog stayed inside, so the dog house was derelict. We gathered some of our tinder, carried it to the dog house, and proceeded to stack it in and around the dog house to insure it burned.
Lighting a dog house on fire probably wouldn’t be a huge issue, except for the fact that the dog house was in storage under the Dixon’s wooden deck and was backed right up next to their wood-shingled home!
I’m a bit fuzzy on what happened next, but I seem to recall some hesitation in lighting it on fire, but then it was lit, probably by Mark. I’m also fuzzy as to when we ran, whether it was before or after the fire engine showed up, but it didn’t take them long. Someone must have seen the smoke billowing out from under the deck as the fire engine arrived quickly and the fire was put out before it did any real damage to the deck or the house.
I have a very vivid memory of walking toward the front yard of the Dixon’s house between our house and their house and seeing the fire engine parked on the road.
The next thing I remember is my mother screaming at Mark and I, followed by a pretty vicious lashing with a belt.
We never played that game with matches ever again (though I do think Nate Williams lit the field opposite his house on fire that same summer or the summer after; neither Mark or I were involved).