The Blue Woods
There are only a handful of men alive today who could possibly remember The Blue Woods. And those men are spread so far and wide, the likelihood of more than one or two of them ever reading this is very remote.
Back in Morehouse, Missouri, where we spent our youth, The Blue Woods were an important part of our daily thoughts and conversations. Many a summer day was spent in speculations over what could lie out there in The Blue Woods. What mysteries could be hidden within that hazy horizon? What adventures? What danger lurked there?
I lived on the last street on the southern edge of Morehouse. My back yard opened onto a cotton field. Beyond the cotton field was Little River. And beyond Little River, there lay The Blue Woods
My pals were Dub Taylor, Bobby Miller, Don Kitchen, Billy Stinnett, Bill Reynolds, Bob and Jim Wheat, and maybe others from time to time. We played in the cotton fields. We had our army games there. We scouted and fought Indians there amongst the ridge rows. And, if an occasional cotton bole got picked and tossed like a hand grenade, well, it only lended realism to our fun.
We waded out into the Water Moccasin-invested waters of Little River to gather cattails. You could soak the cattails in kerosene and make a dandy torch. Or a flaming arrow to shoot at the covered wagons just like the Indians in the movies. Had our mothers ever known, they would have had heart attacks.
Pipe bombs on the Internet? Hog wash. You take a glass marble, a giant firecracker, a piece of lead pipe, crimp it down on one end, so just the firecracker wick can get out. Light it and you've got yourself one heck of a little cannon. It will embed that marble in the side of a wood shed, or better yet, an outdoor privy.
We believed in safety first. Of course we did. When we teamed up for B-B Gun fights, we all put on sunglasses for eye protection. No one had to tell us, we just did it. Have you ever taken a B-B shot to the forehead? Stings like the dickens.
On a warm summer day we would venture down into the bayous and swamps of Little River. We worked for a week one time building a log cabin down in the swamps. It was a swell little cabin. It had a doorway and a window. It was "Our Place." We fought rival hordes of cross-town kids over that cabin. And we held the day. Then we burned it to the ground to prevent anyone else from happening upon it and using it. It was our cabin.
But, the call of The Blue Woods. You could just barely see them when you looked south. Across the fields, across Little River. Way off in the far distance, there lay the Blue Woods. We speculated that maybe they were as far south as Canalou. Perhaps Charter Oak? Naah, nothing is as far away as Charter Oak. But we knew they were a long way off. Too far to walk. And no roads or paths to get there any other way. The Blue Woods would remain a mystery.
Sometime about the mid to late fifties, progress came to Morehouse. They began building a new highway. It was to pass just to the south of Morehouse. Everyone in town speculated as to what effects this would have for the town. We knew. My pals and I knew. They were destroying The Blue Woods. Road graders and men with surveyor's tools were invading The Blue Woods.
My friends and I rode our bikes out to the construction area one day. To take a look at the giant earth movers. To see what was happening to The Blue Woods. But, where were they? Where were the Blue Woods? All we saw were wheat fields and cotton blossoms. There were no Blue Woods. There never had been. The Blue Woods were a mirage.
Yes, if you look off into the distance, off toward the horizon, you can see a purple haze. A diffusion of the air where it meets the ether of the heavens. Thus were our Blue Woods.
Only in the imagination of a group of small boys. The Blue Woods will live forever. The Blue Woods. The unreachable place. The place of dreams. The place of wonders to behold.
Yes, I still remember the Blue Woods. And I bet if you tracked down any of those other pals of mine, with a far-away look in their misty eyes, they too would tell you about The Blue Woods.