Night has receded with a glint of morning light filtering through windows. Dew sparkles among the grass blades. All is quiet with only an occasional rustle of the leaves in the big oak tree. Spanish moss sways gently from the massive oak limbs but the bag swing is still, hanging silently, waiting.
Dogs bark. Dinah and Spot are announcing the beginning of a new day on 58th Street. The slamming of a back door signals that Charlie is ready to lead us on another grand adventure.
In anticipation, Knox has already gravitated down to Buddy's yard. Because the summer is just beginning and feet haven't been toughened, Knox is wearing his new "Keds". As usual, the laces are untied and flopping about his ankles.
Shortly, Buddy joins Charlie and Knox at the front curb. Dinah and Spot are close at hand; lying with paws stretched forward, muzzles resting on the ground, but with ears alert.
After a few minutes, Dinah slowly raises her head and gazes across and down the street, but does not bark. She recognizes Ernie, still rubbing his eyes, lumbering across the street towards the three boys on the curb. After a few obscene comments regarding what Ernie might be doing in bed so late, the four boys and two dogs are drawn toward the great oak tree in the field behind Buddy's house.
It is early and Knox has not yet pissed-off anyone (or everyone), but he is already pestering Charlie to be first-up when the group plays corkball that afternoon.
Charlie, a little older and bigger than the rest of us, climbs the big oak and orders Knox to push up the bag swing. (The swing is made of a "tow" sack, filled with Spanish moss, tied to a stout rope and suspended from a large limb high in the mighty oak tree.) The others join Charlie on the limb. Dinah and Spot, aware of what is to come, move to safer ground.
Ernie is the first to swing. As he jumps from the limb and clamps his legs firmly around the bag, Knox gets ready. As Ernie swings back toward the jumping-off limb, Knox jumps and grabs the rope. There are now two on the swing. When the swing returns, but not as close as before because the pendulum arc decays each trip, Buddy jumps and hangs on. On the return swing, Charlie leaps. Four people are now on the swing. All jumps were near flawless.
Others start to gather at the big oak: David, Tommy, and Derrold. All take turns swinging and jumping until Charlie commands all to stop. We have enough guys to set a bag swing record and we need to plan.
Discussions are held as to who should be first, second, etc. There had to be a delicate balance between size and jumping ability to obtain the right mixture of bodies on the swing concurrently. Because of his size, strength, and lack of jumping ability, Ernie was to be first and form the foundation. Charlie was to jump last because of his jumping ability (and because he said so).
The first attempt at the record was not pretty. Knox, who jumped fifth, was off target. His knee struck Tommy's head, Knox tumbled over the swing and fell on his back. As Knox lay gasping for breath and Tommy crying and rubbing the growing knot on his head, the rest of the boys agreed that no one was seriously hurt. There was no blood.
Between sobs, Tommy repeatedly said he wanted to go home. Suitable threats convinced him otherwise. Knox was now breathing normally. Knox was not crying. He would never cry in front of Charlie.
The second attempt at the record was not successful. The sixth jumper, Buddy, could not maintain his grasp on the rope. He desperately grabbed at the spaghetti of arms and legs as he slipped from the swing, but to no avail. The result was a pile of tangled bodies on the ground, swearing, yelling, and laughing. Again, no one was really hurt, just a few bruises and scrapes. It was time to try again.
Not all parties were anxious to resume. But each knew the consequences of quitting: abuse and humiliation.
We almost didn't make it on the third attempt. Derrold's hands had slipped off the rope when David jumped and landed on Derrold's arms. Derrold was now hanging onto Tommy's shoulders. Ernie's legs were being pinched by all the weight and he was complaining about Buddy's foot in his stomach. Knox had farted.
Charlie jumped. He made it. A record.
The boys yelled, the dogs barked and mothers wondered what had the boys done now.
After celebrating the record-breaking effort, all started hitting Knox about the arms and shoulders. When Knox farted, he forgot to say "no pokes".
That bag swing still hangs there in my mind. In the dappled shade of that big oak tree. Inviting me to climb aboard. Aim my feet toward the sky as I swing. Feel the breeze in my face. And daydream.