The Shaving Pile at the Lumber Yard
My grandfather owned a lumber yard in my little home town. My brother and I were fortunate enough to live down the street from the business. Two of my cousins also lived on that same street. Oh, the memories we made there!
On the property of the lumber yard was where I learned to love the smell of fresh cut wood. Still today when I smell it my mind goes back to the lumber yard, my uncle and grandfather who worked there, and many memories with my family.
At the lumber yard my cousins and I would climb on the stacks of fresh cut wood without adult supervision. Once I remember a board or two falling onto my ankle leaving some bad scrapes and a sore ankle. Can you imagine kids climbing on those rickety stacks of lumber today? Back in those days there was no such thing as helicopter parents. We were all around the neighborhood from dawn to dusk unsupervised. If it was a sunny, warm day we were outside only to come in for dinner and supper. In my family we called the noon meal “dinner” and the evening meal “supper. But at school the noon meal was lunch. That’s just how it was living in Kentucky during the 50’s and 60’s.
One of my cousins lived in an apartment behind the office of the lumber yard. Some days after the business closed we would go inside the office and roller skate. This is where I learned to skate. We would skate on that old unfinished wooden floor zooming between kegs of nails, bolts, and screws. Sometimes we would even go outside and skate on the long bed of the old delivery truck. It’s a miracle we didn’t fall off and break our necks. (I never was a very good skater.)
But the part of the lumber yard we all loved the most, and where we had the most fun, was the shaving pile. The workers would plane the lumber, and the shavings would blow out a long pipe into what seemed like an enormous mound in a field. It was probably an acre field with the shaving pile on the far end. There we played King of the Mountain and dug tunnels. It’s a wonder that one didn’t cave in and suffocate us.
We turned the rest of the area into our very own baseball field. This is where my love of baseball began. I was usually the youngest, therefore the last to be chosen on the teams. I still remember the first time I caught a fly ball. Everyone on the teams couldn’t believe I finally caught one. To this day I can see the surprised look on everyone’s faces.
Some of the boys around our neighborhood and my tom boy cousin even built a dugout with wood and nails they had sneaked out of the lumber yard. To this day I still wonder if my grandfather and uncle knew where the kids got the materials to create the dugout.
Every kid in the neighborhood knew where the shaving pile was. We would organize our teams and make our own rules. We didn’t need adults or umpires to show us how it’s done. The kids in those good ole days figured it all out by themselves.
When we came home after a long day of play with wood shavings on our clothes our moms would get so mad. They were stay at home moms, and their houses were immaculate until we came home. We would try to dust the shavings off our clothes before we went in. But there was always some stuck somewhere especially in our tennis shoes and socks. I can still hear my aunts and mom complain when we would mess up their clean houses.
Once my brother got into trouble for hitting a baseball so hard that it went through my aunt’s kitchen window. But the worse thing that happened was when a neighborhood boy accidently knocked my brother’s two front teeth out with a wooden bat. For some reason he was running the bases with a baseball bat in tow when the bat came into contact with my brother’s teeth. Our mom was devastated that her boy had to get false teeth after that incident. That was the most serious accident I can remember happening at our shaving pile playground. Later on my brother told me that despite getting his two front teeth knocked out those days spent at the shaving pile were the happiest days of his childhood
It was a sad day when we moved a few miles away closer to a bigger town. Ocassionally we would come back, but it never was the same after we moved.
We were blessed to have lived in a safer time. Our parents didn’t have to worry about us being kidnapped off the street, or older kids encouraging us to take drugs, or being shot during a drive by shooting. We were blessed to have no knowledge of computers , ipods, or video games. We breathed good clean air and got plenty of exercise. What a blessing it was to spend those younger years with cousins and our grandfather. We learned to make do with what we had and made great friends along the way. What precious memories I have with my cousins, brother, and the neighborhood friends at Granddaddy’s lumber yard and shaving pile.
I would love to hear about some of your best childhood memories. Feel free to share them in the comment section below.