I was Davey Crockett. OK... I thought that when I walked through the back yard at night no one could hear me. It was all that training to be quiet like an Indian. One of the places we explored was JaypiareMountain (aka JPR for Jeff, Phil and Rick). We were the first to claim it of course so we named it. We slept out under the stars until it either rained or the wind would blow. Why the wind? The imagination really goes wild when the branches of trees start rubbing together… moaning. Our young hearts would race with the anticipation of ghosts and zombies invading our campsite. Then again, one needs to remember that these were the days of the Mothman as he roamed through West Virginia and he WAS everywhere. He smelled bad and had eyes that glowed. ...or was that Jeff.
We were also pirates. Any type of scrap wood was used to build a fort. Anything round and hollow would become a cannon. Mark, one of the bravest of the pirates, was severely injured one day as we were hoisting a cannon into a tree fort. Someone didn't tie the knot well and as Mark was standing below giving directions... well... it came loose and misfired. The round hit the Mark (heh)... he "slept" for a while. The cannon was really one of those old hexagonal red drainage pipes. It is amazing any of us survived childhood. I think it was Bobby that was responsible for the slip up this time. NOTE: Bobby ended up joining the army to do what we did as kids... camp out and play in the mud. Then he got a job on the Alaskan Pipeline and married an Eskimo lady and lives there to this day... or so the story goes.
Speaking of forts, we built forts in the trees in back of Bobby's house. For added security against adult insurgents, we had some lookout posts in a couple of pine trees in the front yard. The pine trees were really cool… not that one needed a jacket when in the "crow's nest." However, if anyone needed to make a quick exit, we would just slide down the outside branches of the tree like a big ol' sliding board. It's amazing any of us survived childhood.
We made bows and arrows out of willow branches and maple branches. The arrows we sharpened on rocks. Yes, we redefined primitive. To make things more thrilling and stare certain death or injury in the eye, we would have actual combats shooting at each other. Sometimes we would just see how far we could shoot our arrows with our bows. Considering all those "play" wars, no one lost an eye much to the warning of our parents. I believe it was Mark who got wounded in the shoulder one time. It happens in war. It's amazing any of us survived childhood.
I guess igloos count as forts... at least we did use them to protect us from our enemies!!! We even had escape routes – we always had escape routes - all laid out from our snow forts!!! …AND to make them really fast, we packed the snow really good with shovels and poured water over it to ice it up. It is amazing how fast you can get from the top to the bottom of a hill on a snow wing when it is going over ice. Of course you have no control. Reference the time I went over the edge of the turn and became airborne... landing sitting on a railroad tie laughing on the other side of a small “pond.” Actually, it was a natural spring that was blocked in to stabilize the side of the hill. Then there was Jimmy!!! He wasn't so lucky. We had built a small jump, or large bump, at the end of our escape route and as he went over that extra added thrill, he lost control careened into the side of a shed using his right leg as a braking device. Ah, yes, things are built quite sturdy in good ol’ West Virginia. The shed didn’t give an inch. We all signed his cast. It is amazing any of us survived childhood.