Caussey's Corner

Caussey’s Corner: Soft Summer Nights, a Texan’s Childhood Memory

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The night is clear and deep. Stars appear as though diamonds flung against a canopy of ebony satin cloth. A quarter dipper moon is outlined in sickle fashion. Winds are still, except for an occasional whisper coming from the grove of cottonwoods near the back yard.

My house is located on a cul-de-sac. It is one of five houses, and the only one without children. The other four houses are the homes to nine children ranging from two to eleven years of age.

Last night about dark, I stepped outside to get my mail. I could hear the children playing in the darkness of the passing evening. Their laughter and voices seemed to clutch at the pages of history, carrying me back to my own time as a child.

I was twelve years old again, and had just completed the sixth grade. We lived in town, and our house was located across from the First Christian Church in Seymour, Texas.

Caussey's Corner: Soft Summer Nights, a Texan's Childhood Memory

Photo: @brandimarkham via Twenty20

The entire town was the playground for the neighborhood kids. We came home to supper, and after eating we went outside and rode bikes, or played whatever game was discovered. Sometimes we invented our own or developed a hybrid of another game. In the summertime, not even darkness was grounds for Mother to call us to come home. Ten was the usual time to come in for the evening, which gave us a couple of hours to play.

There were seven in our group that were regular friends, {four girls and three boys}. Each night we played together, and over the summer the relationship and genuine care for one another seemed to grow. Knowing very little about girls, this was an interesting and enriching experience.

One night, as summer crickets sprinkled their magic sounds and fireflies lit up brief periods of the blackness, we decided to play hide-and-go-seek. As Paul hid his eyes and started counting to 100, the other six of us scattered to a safe place among neighbor’s porches, shrubs, alleys, and parked cars.

I found a garage that was closed, but a side door was unlocked, so I let myself in. The inside was quiet, dark, and smelling of gasoline and laundry detergent. I felt my way around until I came to an empty space in the corner and sat down. A moment later I heard a moving noise coming from what appeared a far corner. It was so dark, I could not see anything, although my eyes had adjusted to the dark.

Caussey's Corner: Soft Summer Nights, a Texan's Childhood Memory

Photo: @acaselli via Twenty20

Suddenly, I heard a voice, asking, “Who’s there? Please answer me!” I recognized the voice as that of Linda, one of the girls who was my playmate. I answered it was me. She indicated that she would come toward me and follow the sound of my voice. I kept talking and in a few seconds she had arrived and taken up residence in the corner sitting next to me.

Immediately I recognized that girls were different than boys. Linda smelled nice and she was soft. Our knees and legs touched, which called that to my attention. At first, I felt terribly uncomfortable. I had never been this close to a girl. In fact, I really didn’t like girls much, but I was quickly changing my mind.

Linda laughed pleasantly at just about anything I said. It wasn’t in a mocking vein, but rather one that had correctly identified my clever wit and charming personality. She even told me she thought I was very smart. Several times I wondered if someone else was in that garage with us.

Perhaps 30 minutes passed with us squeezed into that corner together. And I was running out of things to say. Finally, she asked me if I wanted to kiss her. Well now, I wasn’t quite sure what to say. I wanted to, I think, but the mechanics were unfamiliar to me and the darkness was not a benefactor. I answered in the bravest voice that I could muster that I did.

Caussey's Corner: Soft Summer Nights, a Texan's Childhood Memory

Photo: @lelia_milaya via Twenty20

The first problem I suspected was trying to find her mouth. Also, I was sitting on my left hand, which was asleep, and my right arm was trapped between Linda and the garage wall. I couldn’t just pucker and seek to find her face with my lips.

Well, Linda solved that problem because she kissed me. How she could find anything in the dark was a mystery to me. We did that kissing stuff for some time. And I felt I was doing pretty well considering I was kissing while using no hands. Finally, we got tired and decided to give ourselves up, knowing this would make Paul happy.

Walking back from the mailbox to my house through the garage, gasoline and detergent smells caused a reflective mood. Maybe I should just turn off the garage light, close the door, find a quiet corner, and call my sweetheart to come out.

Durhl Caussey is a syndicated columnist who writes for papers across America. He may be reached at this paper or at [email protected].