William Snesrud of CrossDove Writers

Who doesn’t love the rain, in particular those days when it is just a steady drizzle without a lot of heavy rain and wind.

In those days way long ago, when I was younger – very much younger – rainy days in the fall meant a more exciting time playing sandlot football.

SandlotFootball  When I was a kid, the neighborhood kids enjoyed those weekend games of sandlot football on my Dad’s large (at least to a kid), corner lot front yard. But when it was a cool day with a slightly consistent drizzle it seemed to bring out more excitement from the kids to get out in that front yard and bang some bodies while running off much needed energy that was being built up by being in the house.

You should probably need to know that our neighborhood football games were always games with tackling, none of this touch or flag stuff as that was just not as much fun, much to the chagrin at times from several parents in the houses around us.

The games were always banging bodies and sometimes I have wondered how we managed not to hurt ourselves more than we did, though yes we would have the bruises to brag about after the games and maybe a few bloody lips or noses.

Another thing you should know, playing in a front yard gave us some automatic sidelines marked out by such things as a couple of parking signs, a street sign and a mailbox along Delhay Drive, while the other sideline was marked by my house, complete with the cement steps to a front porch, a couple of fern bushes, a lengthy spruce tree and best of all when used to our advantage – a sizeable sticker bush! One end zone was the drainage ditch between our home and the neighbors on one end and the sidewalk along Madison Avenue on the other. While not exactly the exact middle of the yard, what we called the 50-yard line was the sidewalk running from Delhay Drive to our front porch steps.

While playing football when the weather was sunshine and clear weather was always a great time, playing in weather that was a bit messy just seemed to make the experience more fun, filled with more laughs for later and more exhausting, which meant we drained our energy quicker.

Did we have some major injuries or moments of question – heck yes we did. I personally can attest to a few for which I was the instigator despite being the smallest kid in the game and a day like today makes me think of those.

One occasion the neighbor kid, David, was being extra mouthy, much more than normal and seemed to be enjoying trying to push me around which might make sense since he most likely outweighed me by at least 40-50 pounds. This one time during one of those fall weekend afternoons when the air was crisp and the weather was just a light drizzle, he was on defense and we were trying to score close to the ditch end zone closest to his house. He was going on and on about getting ready to come after me like one of the Purple People Eaters (better known as the defensive line for the Minnesota Vikings, guys like Carl Eller, Alan Page, Bob Lurtsema and Greg Marshall), I laughed and said then look out for a Jerry Kramer move – and that is what I did, I brought my forearm up and caught David just under the chin while he was wagging his tongue out like he seemed to do often. He bit his tongue something fierce and blood came flying out of his mouth as he ran screaming toward his front door. As we took a short timeout while we waited to see if he comes back out, the front door of his house is thrown open and onto the porch his Mom stomps out and begins to scream at me for hurting his boy, I tried to explain to her that did I look like the size kid that should get the advantage on her kid – we called it a day and headed for our own secure dwellings instead of listening to her rants.

Another memorable occasion was when the so-called neighborhood bully, Tyson, wanted to play with us. You must know that this fellow was easily twice my size and as I recall, maybe three years older than I was, he was a menace to the rest of us, but since we were short of players that day we said sure why not. After a while Tyson became a real problem to play with due to not only his size, but his attitude – so we made a plan to put an end to it. I told the other kids on my team to let him get away along the house sidelines, which they did and then I took the right angle and beelined it for Tyson coming along the house and dove at his thighs right in front of the sizable sticker bush. Guess what he did, he was full body buried in the sticker bush, screaming and throwing the ball up into the air as he scrambled to get out of the bush. I grabbed the ball, ran to the other end zone for a score, tossed the ball to my buddy Mike (whose ball it was), hollered I would talk to them later and we all headed at full speed to our own homes with me running around the back way to our backdoor. Tyson never played with us again.

Two sad side notes, David passed away a year or so ago after a life of health issues and Tyson passed away suddenly from a heart attack about four years past just a few weeks after we reconnected and had a couple of awesome talks, including one where we laughed about the sticker bush incident.

So, there you have it, as my backyard becomes a swamp I take a few minutes to remember those days when a rainy day was still a day of homemade fun where getting wet and bruised with the kids in the neighborhood was an honor that still floats around in a full box of kids in the Delhay Drive memory box.

With that – hugs, prayers, blessings & happy thoughts from Grumpy Gramps

(Copyright@2018, CrossDove Writer – no part of this may be printed, copied or used without written permission by CrossDove Writers and Grumpy Gramps.)