Farm Chronicles: The satchel and the bowling ball

It was the summer of ’69. I was 14 when my cousins Nancy, 16, and Bobby, 18, visited from Phoenix. Nancy stayed with us most of the summer, but Bobby was visiting other relatives and came to our place, thankfully, only a couple of times. Nancy was a pretty blonde, slim, athletic, a great sense of humor and a good friend. Bobby was an ego-driven, smart aleck, bully who thought he was God’s gift to the world. Nancy and I were good pals. She enjoyed farm life and we spent a lot of time in the woods, going swimming at Leisure Lake down the road, and other silly things like one day we decided to make a calendar so she put her bathing suit on and I snapped pictures of her and my horse Wimpy with the polaroid.

We were having a great summer. Nancy and I were inseparable. We were either riding horses, swimming or finding some other fun to do, like popping wheelies on our Simplicity riding lawn tractor. Sometimes we would fall over backwards and the tractor just kept on bouncing down the driveway until we caught up with it. Other times we would go out to the pond and catch frogs or turtles. Life was a wonderful adventure in the summer of ’69.  Then Bobby showed up for a few days. Paradise lost. From the moment my parents’ backs were turned, he made my life miserable. He constantly made fun of me. Pushed me around. Wanted to fist fight. It wasn’t light-spirited play fun. He was mean and calculating.

The day before Bobby was to leave to visit other relatives, Nancy and I cooked up a scheme to get back at him. The idea was to lay a trap and not only hurt him a little, but also make him look really foolish. We plotted on how to make him pay. I found my brothers old Southeast Pirates gym satchel and we designed a plan to rig the satchel with a bowling ball in it over the hallway door at the top of the stairs in the farm house. We hammered a nail into the frame at the top of the door, tied a string to the satchel and secured it on the door knob. The door would be opened just enough to steady the satchel at the top and when the door was opened, the string would release and the satchel would fall on his head.

We tested it a few times (without the bowling ball) and it worked like a charm. We giddily stuffed the bowling ball into the satchel and rigged the trap. From the back bedroom we started calling for Bobby, who was downstairs. Then footsteps. Step by step coming up the stairs. We were getting so excited. Then the door creaked open. And “BAM!” That satchel and bowling ball slammed down on its target. And my mother shrieked and dropped her laundry basket as she went to her knees. Fortunately, she was more surprised than hurt, but we got into a lot of trouble. And Bobby, well, he just mocked us about being so stupid. Proverbs 22:5 says, “Thorns and snares are in the path of the wicked: he that keeps his soul shall be far from them.” If you are going to set a snare for the wicked, better make sure it doesn’t spring on the just–like your mother.

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Bill Wilson