My mother passed some months back and behind her she left 1500 pages of her life story. Slowly, I have been editing those pages and sending them to my siblings and the process has inspired me to follow in her footsteps by writing in chronological order things I can remember. As they unfold, once in a while I will post one of the better vignettes like the following. If you like what you have read, notes of encouragement will go a long way in getting me to post more.
Golden Balls: 1959
I was eleven and we were always looking for ways to make spending capitol, and sinceour dad’s doled out a measly quarter a week allowance, myself and whoever I was hanging out with at the time would go door to door collecting empty bottles. We cleaned out back yards, washed windows and mowed lawns though too often jobs offered were much to close to actual work and we shied away from that kind of activity unless we were desperate.
One day dad told us his story as a kid going down to the local golf coarse in Colorado and searching in the creek that ran next to it, then selling his found balls to the golfers.
We thought that was a grand idea and very soon we were dredging the drainage ditch that ran in back of the Fairway golf course next to our housing tract.
Since no one else thought of doing such a thing and since that ditch was a series of highly polluted puddles of water, we were the first to wade down into that muck and pull up lost golf balls. We’d clean them off and stand along the fence line to sell the balls back to the golfers. Some brand names we got fifty cents for, but most of the time we got a dime or quarter. At first on a Saturday morning we could find twenty or thirty balls, half which were sellable and by noon we would have enough money for cokes and lunch at Woolworth’s in the shopping center, our favorite hangout. Cigarettes and girls would come later.
After a while the gold mine of balls ran out and a mornings search netted maybe five or ten balls, with only one or two sellable, hardly worth the effort.
One day Kenny Freeman came up with a brilliant idea. There was a pond in the middle of the coarse and it was big enough that many golfer would not make it to the next green and lose their balls in the water.
Our first attempt was to wait until there were no one on that fairway then race into the water with bare feet and squish around until we felt the distinctive feel of a ball, then drop under the water and retrieve it. We could pull five or ten balls out before the next set of golfers teed up.
That scenario worked great until someone turned us in. Security kicked us out with a stern warning. Problem was, we knew what kind of gold mine was just under the placid water of that pond so we were not deterred by any dipshit security guard on a golf cart.
At first we had a third kid bird-dog to keep an eye out and with the speed of those carts we could easily out run any approaching authority. As security got more wily and we got caught a number of times, they finally took us home to tell our parents.
You have to understand, in 1959 no one in Fairway Park did anything wrong. No one wanted to do anything wrong. No one wanted to even think of doing anything wrong. That said, the parents put the big kibosh on our golf ball retrieval enterprises.
One day Kenny came up with another brilliant plan. He always had brilliant plans, some good and some disastrous.
At one in the morning on warm summer nights we’d sneak out of the house and onto that fairway, quietly slip into the mucky water with bare feet and with our toes dredge the bottom of the pond. That I remember, over the course of that summer, we pulled hundreds of balls out of that spot turned around the next day, stood along the fence and sold them, always watching for security, of course.