When I was a kid, everytime we traveled through Honor Heights park in Muskogee, Oklahoma, my dad would tell us kids about the time he found a dead man leaning against a tree! Well, he wasn't the only one that found him. You see, he was in a boy scout troop and they were camping.
I could just imagine, as a kid, my dad, of course he was a lot younger and smaller, running like a banshee, a male banshee, through the woods at Honor Heights park with a bunch of other boys! Running and playing and screaming and yelling and then Bam! a dead man! How cool for a bunch of little boys! The poor man was actually a patient at the veteran's hospital on the hill and he had wandered off and sat down and died. I often wonder to myself who he was and what kind of life he had lived...and if he would have laughed at having scared and scarred a bunch of boy scouts!
That was apparently, a pretty good trip because one boy also cut off another boys finger with a hatchet! At this time in the story, I would always gasp in amazement and my dad would say, well he dared him to cut it off so he did! Nowadays, if even one of those things happened at a boy scout camping trip the parents would completely freak out! I know I would. That was the fifties and they let boys be boys. They didn't tell them to sit still and sing songs and feel good about themselves and others. They just let them be wild and free and run and play with sticks. Those that were strong, lived and those that were dumb and dared others to cut off their fingers, grew up fingerless. Oh, those were the days! At least it seemed that way when I was a kid and my dad was telling it!
It's funny how some stories live on and on in families. That story stuck with me because it seemed so fun and scary at once. It also stuck with me because we lived close to Muskogee and went to Honor Heights park often and everytime we went, my dad would tell the story. After awhile, my sister and I would begin to tell it before him. We thought it funny to beat him....
Well, now I don't live so close but I still go a couple of times a year. Each time I go, I tell my kids that pappa found a dead man in Honor Heights park. My daughter is horrified and my son wishes he had been there to see that kid chop off the other kids finger! One day, my own children will probably tell the story......I wonder how the story will morph by the time their kids are telling it? I also wonder how many of the old stories about my grandparents are not as factual as they were. How many have changed just a little? or maybe a lot?