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Billybuc's Writing Challenge: Remembering Your Childhood

A Bit of a Change-up

Normally I give you some photos as writing prompts, but I think I’ll change things up a bit for you today, a change-up when you’re looking for a fastball, in baseball terms, my apologies to those of you who know nothing about baseball, a shout out to Bob Gibson and Billy Buckner, the guy behind my nickname, Billybuc, and that’s about as far as I want to take this particular train of thought.

Anyway, more about this changeup, a nasty pitch, let me tell ya true, you dig in, set your internal timing in your brain, your body coils, ready to spring forward as the fastball approaches, the hips pivot, slight leg-kick, a white blur traveling at 90+ mph, and the pitcher, who has ice flowing through his veins, unleashes the old knuckler, 70 mph of floating, darting, sinking madness, and you damned near ruin your back for life, swinging and pulling back all at the same time, as unnatural a movement as you are ever likely to see in sports, and that s.o.b. pitcher grinning as he watches you make a complete fool out of yourself.

Young and foolish

Young and foolish

No Photos

So no photos today, just one instruction: write about your childhood! It can be a poem, it can be a fictional account, it can be autobiographical in style, whatever, but it has to be true, which is tricky if it's fiction, but you'll figure it out.

And that’s all there is to it!

Are you up for the challenge?

Play ball!

Play ball!

I’ll Start Us Off

Here you go, an excerpt from my next novel, working title “A Time and a Place,” autobiographical in nature, for your enjoyment:

It was a hot summer by Tacoma standards. In July it hit ninety-nine degrees. That’s a scorcher for weather-pampered Northwesterners who are accustomed to mid-seventies. August seemed to be in the eighties daily. Great baseball weather and we all loved baseball but still, even a kid got tired of his shirt being plastered to his back by sweat.

There was also a great deal of roadwork and public utility work done that summer. Huge trenches were dug to lay new pipe. Dust seemed to cling in the air for three solid months. It was a traffic nightmare for drivers. It was a playground for us kids.

It was a summer of slow movement and the wiping of brows, of constantly dirty clothes and dogs under the porch with tongues lagging, of swimming holes and Snow Cones, picnics under the shade of an apple tree, A&W and top-down T-birds with three on the floor.

It was the summer Frank and his family moved into our neighborhood. He and I became instant friends that summer and we learned, together, that life is so much more than warm afternoons and carefree outings on Schwinn bikes. It was the summer of lost innocence.

August eleventh, mid-morning, already seventy-five degrees, a knock on the front door. I pulled myself away from a Looney Tunes cartoon on the television, answered the knock and found Frank grinning at me.

“Let’s call some guys and go play ball at the park,” he said to me. He was grinning that lopsided grin of his, and shifting his weight from foot to foot, as was his norm. Frank Zderic, two generations removed from Yugoslavia, he was one of ten Zderic children, all with shit-brown eyes and dish-water brown hair. His family had moved into our neighborhood in early July, five houses away from us. It took us four days to spot each other, make the first attempts at conversation, and decide we were worth spending time with, and begin hanging out as friends.

I grabbed my glove, bat and ball and found mom in the kitchen.

“Mom, Frank and I are going to the park to play ball.”

My mother, Evelyn Josephine Holland, was Midwest born and raised, a child of the Great Depression, and not a believer in idle hands. She was home that day from her part-time job at the Proctor Dime Store, but a day off from work simply meant catching up on canning, laundry and fifty other odd-jobs waiting for her. She looked up from her pie crust and brushed a strand of her dishwater-blond hair from her face. A streak of flour appeared. She had been a beauty as a teen in Iowa. By 1961 she was just a tired mom with too much to do to worry about her looks.

“Did you do your chores, Bill?”

“I took the garbage out, made my bed and fed the dog. I’ll mow the lawn when I get home, okay?”

“Just don’t forget. Your dad will tan your hide if you do.”

Whether my dad would actually take a belt to my butt was a matter for debate, but I had no desire to actually find out. I kissed mom on the cheek, and Frank and I raced out of the house before she could dream up some other chore for me to do. We ran the block to Frank’s house and commenced dialing the phone.

Our phone calls netted five more players, all of whom promised to meet us at the park in a half-hour. Jefferson Park was a mile down the road, a straight shot down Monroe Street. Our Keds sneakers kicked up dust as we walked. Ten a.m. and already hotter than Hades.

I picked up a clump of dirt and tossed it at Frank. “Spahn goes for three-hundred today,” I told him.

“He’ll get it. Nobody can hit that curve of his. Sure wish I could be there to see it.”

Frank had five sisters. One of them, Mary, had just turned twelve. She was damned cute and I had a crush on her.

“What are your sisters doing today?” I asked with what I hoped was supreme nonchalance.

“You mean what’s Mary doing, right? Why don’t you ask her yourself? You chicken?” He nailed me with a dirt clump and ran ahead.

Truth was, Frank was right. I was chicken. Girls confused me back then. Mary was way too pretty….pretty in an intimidating way…and I had no clue. Talking to her was painful. The thought of doing anything other than talk was way beyond my comprehension. Still I had my image to uphold.

“Nah, I’m not chicken. She’s too young and besides, girls are a pain in the butt. Why bother, right?”

Frank wasn’t buying it but he let it drop. Friends were like that back then. They knew just how far to push and then they backed off. Kidding around was fine but there were limits. He gratefully changed the subject back to safer ground.

“Do you think Maris can beat Ruth’s record? He’s got forty-eight now. Only thirteen to go.”

I was shaking my head. “No way, Jose. He’s going to choke big time. You just watch and see. Mantle might break the record but not Maris. Hey, did you see the bomb shelter the Peterman’s are building in their backyard? I’d hate to have to live in that tiny room underground for a month until it was safe outside.”

“Are you kidding me? Lisa Peterman is hot. That would be the greatest month of my life. If the bomb drops I’m running to their house and begging them to let me stay with them. If I can’t have Connie Francis as a girlfriend then it will have to be Lisa Peterman. That girl gives me a boner.”

I started singing “Where the Boys Are” and Frank nailed me with another dirt clod.

We laughed the rest of the way to the park. When we got there the other guys were waiting for us. We played a game of Pick-up for three hours, the heat forgotten as we ran the bases with reckless abandon, Maris and Mantle playing with us, just kids being kids, testing our own limits and learning about ourselves along the way.

And there was so much learning to do.

A home of memories

A home of memories

And Now It’s Your Turn

I surely do look forward to you hitting one out of the park on this knuckler. Drop me a line and let me know when you post it so I don’t miss it, okay?

Fantastic!

Happy writing to you all!

2020 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Comments

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 11, 2020:

I loved your offering, Greg! Thanks a bunch!

greg cain from Moscow, Idaho, USA on October 10, 2020:

Bill - thanks once again for putting a great challenge out there. I put a piece together over the past couple days and posted it here:

https://letterpile.com/memoirs/Remembering-Childho...

Thanks again, my friend. Hope you have a good weekend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 28, 2020:

My pleasure, Nithya! Thanks so much. Stay safe and be happy.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 28, 2020:

I'm very happy to hear that, Dora! There is no late, my friend. Work at it as you have time.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 28, 2020:

I'm so happy you enjoyed it, Li-Jen. Thanks for taking the time to read it and comment on it. You are appreciated.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 28, 2020:

Thank you Sha! I'll try to stop by there later this morning.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on September 28, 2020:

I enjoyed reading the excerpt from your next novel. I was drawn into your world and enjoyed the game, thank you for sharing.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on September 28, 2020:

Mine'll be so late, but I'll do it.

Li-Jen Hew on September 27, 2020:

Hi Bill, thank you for sharing an excerpt from your next novel. It's a like a bonus treat! It is wonderful to see you write about playing baseball in your novel as it is your passion and you do very well in writing from the perspective of a kid.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on September 26, 2020:

Bill, although I originally wrote this in 2012, it's befitting of your challenge. I've tweaked it a bit, added current photos and a video. I hope you enjoy it!

https://discover.hubpages.com/literature/How-I-Bec...

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 26, 2020:

I greatly enjoyed it, Devika! Thank you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 26, 2020:

That's the problem with ideas with wings, Shannon. They do have a tendency to fly away if you aren't trapping them quickly. :)

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on September 26, 2020:

Bill here is mine to your challenge https://discover.hubpages.com/family/Growing-Years...

Shannon Henry from Texas on September 25, 2020:

Nice excerpt. Funny how kids talk like they think adults talk and in reality know very little to nothing about what they are talking about.

I had an idea of what to write about when I saw the challenge and then it flew away. If it comes back, I might attempt to participate.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 25, 2020:

I will go read it now, Umesh. Thank you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 25, 2020:

Thank you Devika, for your thoughts. Have a wonderful weekend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 25, 2020:

I hope you do, Venkatachari M. I would love to read it.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 25, 2020:

Got it and loved it, John! Thank you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 25, 2020:

Thank you Linda! I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on September 25, 2020:

This is a great narration. You have really inspired me and I have submitted my hub in response.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on September 25, 2020:

Bill Childhood memories remind us of who we have become and it is a positive attitude that gets us to where we at. Great writing and sounds a good one.

Venkatachari M from Hyderabad, India on September 25, 2020:

It's an awesome challenge, Bill. Your baseball interests and experiences with your friends are quite interesting. I would like to come up with some of my memories during early childhood. Although, I have published a post already some months ago dealing with my walk on the rail track.

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on September 24, 2020:

Mine is done, Bill. https://letterpile.com/poetry/Write-About-Your-Chi...

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on September 24, 2020:

Childhood friends can be very important and can create great memories. I'm glad you have good memories of your time with Frank.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 24, 2020:

Thanks Brenda! I appreciate the link.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 24, 2020:

Sha, that kind of stability must have meant a great deal to you, during some pretty important years. I can't imagine moving around that much as a kid. I was lucky for sure.

Be safe and well, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 24, 2020:

Wow, Flourish, twice for one kid? That's about two times too many, me thinks. How weird that you came out of the bathroom and they were gone. That would have been disorienting as all hell, and it would have pissed me off for sure.

Anyway, thanks for sharing those two. I'm glad you are found now. :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 24, 2020:

5.2 had me laughing, Alyssa. Thanks for that. Get with it, young lady. Take a break from yoga and whip out a story or two, please.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 24, 2020:

If you want, Rochelle, yes! I look forward to what you come up with, and thank you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 24, 2020:

I love that, Peggy, a baseball diamond next to you home. That would be heaven for me growing up. Thanks for sharing that.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 24, 2020:

I look forward to it, Ann! Thanks for taking part, and Happy Thursday to you.

bill

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 24, 2020:

I wish I did too, Pamela, but I have to play the cards I was dealt. :) Thank you!

BRENDA ARLEDGE from Washington Court House on September 24, 2020:

This is an interesting challenge.

I wrote a poem, "Family Time" back in June of 2019 that you may enjoy.

It has sldo been published in "Dimple Times"

Here is the link

https://letterpile.com/poetry/Poem-Family-Time

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on September 24, 2020:

Bill, I had no idea Billybuc is actually your nickname. I thought it was your penname and always wondered where the moniker came from.

I love your excerpt. Now I understand just how long and dear you and Frank were friends. I don't know what it's like to have had a friend from childhood and all throughout life. I envy you that.

As Peggy Woods mentioned, I too, have already written and posted a childhood story. It's called "How I Became Bravewarrior". I'll read it over and see if I need to tweak it, then email you the link.

As you know, I was an Air Force Brat, so my childhood was all over the place. Little bits here and there. That being said, my fondest memories are from the five years we lived in Philly. I attended Catholic school there (third thru eighth grades) and had many friends, both from school and in my neighborhood. It's there that my story takes place.

FlourishAnyway from USA on September 23, 2020:

I enjoyed reading your story of idyllic childhood. Mine wasn’t so much that but I like to read the stories of others. I had a memorable experience about being left behind or wandering off (accounts vary depending on the storyteller) while hiking with my family in the mountains near some bear caves. All I know is I was left behind and it was traumatic. It started raining and eventually I found my own damn way out of the woods and back to my family’s vehicle. I was maybe 8. People were searching for me and the state police were about to be summoned. I remember how emphatic my father was when my family met back up with me — if you’re lost stay put. I insisted I wasn’t lost at all, I was left behind, forgotten.

You’d think that would be have been the only time this would have happened, but when I was a teenager I went to the restroom while out to eat with my family at a Pizza Hut. It was towards the end of the meal and when I came out of the bathroom I discovered they had gone home. No one even recalls this, but I sure do because I walked about a mile to a Walmart to call for a ride home.

Inside I think we all have fears of being abandoned by those we love.

Alyssa from Ohio on September 23, 2020:

Oh how fabulous! My creative writing list is getting longer. haha! I'm still trying to muster up ideas for your other two, 3 and 5.2 as I like to call them. :) I will add this as well and see if maybe I can come up with something good. Thank you Bill!

Rochelle Frank from California Gold Country on September 23, 2020:

You've set a high standard with your example, Billybuc. Do we post it as a hub?

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on September 23, 2020:

Hi Bill,

My story is already on HubPages. The title is "Good Old Days of Growing Up in the 1950s." I'll be looking forward to some of the stories that come from your prompt. I love your detailed writing style! My dad had mowed a baseball diamond in the field next to our home. I have some fond memories of playing there as a family.

Ann Carr from SW England on September 23, 2020:

I love this subject! My childhood was idyllic in many ways, but of course had some scary moments. I haven't completed your last challenge yet but I might just do this one first!

Thank you for this - I am so going to enjoy it!

Keep safe, bill!

Ann

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on September 23, 2020:

I kind of wish I had a talent for writing poetry. LOL I will think about your challenge. I like your story, Bill.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 23, 2020:

Linda, you are much too busy making quilts and banners, so I understand. Thanks for taking the time to comment, and stay dry out there...lol...impossible!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 23, 2020:

I hope you do, John! I can always count on you for some excellent writing.

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on September 23, 2020:

Bill, I won't participate, but I'm sure looking forward to the responses (especially from Eric LOL).

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on September 23, 2020:

What a terrific challenge, Bill. This should attract some interesting responses. I loved your story to start things off, and may even take up the challenge myself.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 23, 2020:

Fantastic! Thanks A B! I look forward to your response.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 23, 2020:

No deadline at all, Mr. Happy! Whenever you get around to it. Best wishes on the making of that sauce, my friend.

A B Williams from Central Florida on September 23, 2020:

Love it, planning to participate!

Mr. Happy from Toronto, Canada on September 23, 2020:

I ain't promising anything but if the Gods agree, something will come out. Haha!!

What's your deadline? Time is of the essence now. I am making tomato sauce, to last from now until next year this time (this takes days). I'm also making sun-dried tomatoes. On top of the kitchen renovations which I have to start asap

All the best to You!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on September 23, 2020:

You can do this one in your sleep, Eric, so get to writing, please.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on September 23, 2020:

Hmm maybe right up my alley as my life is stranger than fiction ;-)

Loved the story dirt clod boy.