Saturday, February 03, 2007

Our Gang-- Parachuting Skateboards And Bicycles


My father had saved his orange and white nylon parachute from his Airforce Training days. Every now and then, when the wind would be up in the afternoons, my brother and I would put the word out to all the "relevant" kids on the block, and we'd get ten or fifteen kids showing up all riding or holding or wearing something with wheels. Everybody knew what it meant when the word was out that Scott and Steve had the parachute out. Connected to the parachute were its' nylon cords, all still about sixteen or twenty feet long... These were originally attached to the man hanging from beneath the parachute, but now, they became attachment points for dudes on skateboards, go carts, bicycles. girls on skates, an aluminum snow saucer (which was godawful loud when dragged across asphalt...)

We had a few choices of where we were gonna make our runs, but more often than not, we could start right in front of my house and head downwind, which was sort of South East in our neck of the woods due to the configuration of the hills that surrounded us.

Obviously, what we'd do is all grab a handful of parachute cord, mount up on our wheels of choice, and hang on until speed and fear made us all let go and the air would spill out of the parachute. Thirty miles an hour seemed to be about the top speed for the skaters and skateboarders, and they would let go first. The bicycles would drop off right after that and the go-carts would hit their brakes and keep the parachute from rolling down the street like a large plastic bag...

One of the problems with our system was that we couldn't see. If a car was coming, we would have to rely on the honking of their horn to even know they were there.

Once, a gust of wind came at the moment we heard a honking horn and we did not react fast enough. The parachute and all of us "wind-riders" slammed into a Chevy station wagon, with a very jittery and nervous woman driving. She had stopped in the middle of the street, and simply honked in a panic. Our parachute had completely wrapped itself around her car, from top to bottom like an over-sized car cover. Skateboarders hit and flew over her hood. So did a few skaters. A couple of bikes slid into and under her front bumper, as did a go-cart. All this banging while the woman layed on her horn for a long toot, went silent for two or three seconds, and then we heard "The Scream". You know, one of those screams you hear during each episode of the Freddy Kruger films... Friday the 13th part twelve... Part sixteen... Thirty three...

Ear piercing and scary. Kids ran willy nilly. My brother and I grabbed handfuls of parachute and took off for the hills (we were the last row of subdivision before "the hills". The hills were our sanctuary from everything out to get us (including cops, sometimes.) There were several creeks to hide and move through, and high grass in the summertime with trails in it...

I still really don't know what the woman looked like or who she was. I wonder if she still talks about "us"?

4 comments:

Maggie said...

I bet she does. Thats a fun story. The crazy things kids will do, but they often make the best memories - as long as noone gets hurt.

Little Miss Kylie said...

You were one scary scary kid. I don't know how your mum didn't have a heart attack.

Nikky said...

If you were my kid... you wouldn't be... I'd have tanned your hide so many times!

Makes me grateful for the lower level hijinks my kids get into! I realize that it could be worse, SO SO much worse!

Rose said...

I must be warped as I'm sitting here laughing. I bet the woman never forgot about that day.