“Time is the ultimate force of nature”

When I was a child, it seemed as if I had an eternity of life on earth stretching out before me with endless experiences, exploration and pursuit of favorite interests. I grew up in the suburbs of middle-class Birmingham, Alabama. Not poor, but not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination. Both of my parents worked to give us a good living. We could walk to grammar school which was only about three city blocks away. Crime was relatively unknown. The most notorious criminals were probably us juvenile delinquents who stole the neighbors apples, shot out street lights with our BB guns and smoked rabbit tobacco and cross-vine. We were cowboys, Indians, Confederates or Yankees, pirate, space men, Tom Sawyers, Tarzans, army men, Geronimos, or any other larger-than-life hero we saw in the movies, tv or read in a book. In the 1950’s when I was in grammar school, the long-awaited summer vacations stretched out before us as an infinity of lazy, sunny days in a neighborhood of green grassy lawns and paved sidewalks. When it rained, we donned our bathing suits and played in the rain. We went bare-foot until our feet were tough as leather and only bumble-bees, broken glass or rusty nails protruding from old boards posed threats and kept us eagle-eyed as we ran through the alleys, parks, and trails in the big woods at the end of our street. Those days gave way to the teenage years when our first jobs as paperboys, grocery store sackers, leaf-rakers and grass cutters gave us a little money to spend while our parents became a little more lenient with their leashes of restraint. But the longer the chain, the more opportunities we had to get into trouble. Motor scooters expanded our range even more. Being avid lovers of the wild woods, we tended to go to the unsettled outskirts of Birmingham where large corporations like U.S. Steel owned tens of thousands of acres of forest lands. This became our territorial claim and where we spent most of our spare time and days off. We built crude tipis and fire pits.