• Terry Groves

B.R.A.T.S. Glass Houses

Sometimes I think I should have grown up in a glass house. You've heard the adage about people who live in glass houses. I wonder if I would have had enough common sense to live accordingly. Likely not, I was a brat.

By the time I was in my teens, I had thrown enough things to be a pretty good shot. I could generally hit what I was aiming at. Now, not all of those things I was throwing were rocks. I recall many hours behind the Protestant chapel on Lundy's Lane in CFB Kingston PMQs, bouncing a rubber ball, sometimes a tennis ball, off the back wall, and catching it with my fielder's mitt. I would play entire fantasy baseball games back there, tossing pitches and fielding the rebound; calling all the plays. Kind of a "Knock, knock, knocking on heaven's back door."

Across the street from that was Batoche School, and beside the school was a gully. Someone had dumped an old stove in the gully and I spent many Saturday afternoons tossing rocks at the stove from the top, frequently getting them inside the oven. One day I even closed that oven then bounced a rock off its handle, causing the door to flop open, and then getting my next rock right in the open maw. I never managed to get a rock to cause that door to close again so I guess I wasn't THAT good.

Not all of my rock tossing was quite so innocent. I recall going to the river, Turtle Creek if you recall from an earlier post, with a friend and his younger brother, both of whom shall remain nameless for reasons that will soon become obvious. We, by which I mean me, thought it would be a good idea to throw rocks at the train that came by every few hours and I was able to convince them as well, so we all participated. I had done this numerous times previously with my brothers and other friends. This time though, the train stopped, backed up, and one of its staff told us they had called the police and that what we were doing was very dangerous.

Boy holding a stone
Hmmm, what to do with this?

My instinct was to run. I had no problem following the river into the woods and then following various trails, paths, and landmarks and emerging from the Lawson farm right across the road from the Clinton PMQ site. However, we had rode our bikes and left them by the bridge over the river. We headed to our bikes and, by the time we got there, an OPP cruiser was waiting.

In typical Terry fashion, I denied being involved. It must have been some other three kids that the train had reported for throwing rocks. Even after my two companions had confessed, I continued to deny. I wasn't scared so much of the cops, it was the punishment I would get at home, likely another grounding...ANOTHER grounding. Sometimes it felt like I spent most of my childhood grounded; I was a pretty good brat, and, of course, all the good activities seemed to happen when I was grounded and I missed out on them.

I never did admit my culpability in that event...until now. I know I lost the respect of one of my friends over it. I should have owned up and taken my lumps.

Another time in Clinton, my older brother and some friends took me to an abandoned building near the river, but on the highway from Clinton. It had been called Trucker's Haven when it had been in operation. We went there and they started throwing rocks at the building. All of the windows had already been smashed out, but there were still shards of glass remaining in some of the panes. I started throwing some rocks too. It was a lot of fun until we heard the whoop of a police siren behind us.

Caught red-handed, we were taken home. I was grounded but my brother received a stiffer punishment. It turns out he and his friends had been there on an earlier occasion and had broken into the building and smashed up the interior. It was pretty serious, with him having to go to court and receiving community service hours. I think there was some financial repercussions as well. Not a very proud moment for my parents. This was what was going through my mind with the train incident and why I stuck to my denial story...that stiffer punishment. You would have thought these two incidents would have cured me of any desire to toss stones. I wasn't quite done yet.

It took another incident, this one in Kingston, to drive that lesson home. There is a rock cut that the highway from the city leads through before it gets to the base. One evening a couple of us thought it would be a good idea to toss some rocks from the top of the cut, onto the road. It was fun until I heard one of my rocks strike a car. Immediately, we ran and we did not get caught. However, I never stopped thinking about the sound of that rock hitting the car. I don't know if it hit the hood or the roof or the trunk but there was no sound of glass breaking, just the thud against the metal. It dawned on me then just how serious what we had done was. We could have killed someone, or seriously hurt them. I watched the newspaper for the next week, looking for any mention of the incident. There was nothing so, hopefully, it was only a car that was damaged. I never tossed another rock in such a reckless manner.

Some kids tend to be pretty thick in some areas. It took a lot for me to make the connection that certain activities are best left undone. Are there things you did as a kid that you still regret?

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See all Terry’s B.R.A.T. posts at www.beingabrat.com

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glass house
Glass house

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