One of my favorite toys to play with when I was little was called outside… also one of my only toys. I had a decrepit fort in my backyard that came from a church in Sunny slope. My Dad and I took his red pickup truck to go haul it home. I remember that day and that truck.
It was a warm summer morning and we took my Dad’s red 1979 F100 step side to go pick it up. My Dad’s truck was the definition of a rez ride. You couldn’t put gas past a half of a tank or else the gas would leak, you could use a butter knife to start it, and we had these Mexican style blankets that covered all the rips in the single cab seat. We took his raggedy truck to go get that raggedy fort. The wood was all rotted, there was termite damage, and the fort barely stood on three of the four leg supports. But I loved that fort. We put it in my Dad’s truck and headed home to set it up. On the ride home, my Dad told me, “We’ll fix it up, let’s go set it up first.”
We unloaded the fort and set it all up. We realized we were going to need more wood and supplies to fix it up. Being that we didn’t have a lot of spare cash to go to home depot, we headed out to construction sites along greenway parkway along the new housing development going up. We went from house to house in my Dad’s red truck and asked the foreman for scrap wood. To my surprise, the foreman was always willing to give us whatever leftover wood they had. Including nails, and even paint they didn’t need. We did this same process every Saturday for weeks. Soon I had a ton of wood, nails, and paint to fix up my fort. We started reinforcing, and replacing wood on the fort and got it stable. We added a trap door and ladder to the fort. I was able to put up one side of a wall with a window. I painted my fort with the left over red paint from housing construction. I banged in nails randomly, just because I was 8 and I liked to use my hammer. Pretty soon, I had a nice-looking fort. I decided that something was missing though… a moat to be exact.
One Saturday morning I got up early and started digging my moat. In my 8-year old mind, I was thinking I would put alligators in there with a draw bridge. I started digging and digging. After making it about a foot down I hit something hard. I thought was a rock. I started jamming my shovel into the rock trying to break it and get it out. When that didn’t work, I started jumping on my shovel to break the rock. And then I jumped some more, and more. After about my fifth time jumping on my shovel, I thought the rock broke. But it wasn’t a rock, it was a water pipe and water started shooting up from the ground to about the height of our roof. I started freaking out running around in a circle. I had no idea what to do.
I was dreading it, but knew I had to tell my Dad. I walked in the house doing that Native kid cry (where you’re huffing and puffing, pretending to cry with no tears, and while sneaking a finger into your nose to grab a booger). I was trying to tell my Dad about the water pipe, but couldn’t, or at least I was pretending I couldn’t. Finally he said, “Calm down, what’s wrong?” I calmed myself and said, “Dad, I was shoveling, and hit a rock, but it wasn’t and now…. Well now there’s WATER EVERYWHERE.” Then I went back to my Native cry. My Dad didn’t say anything. He walked outside, looked at the water spewing from the pipe going 15 feet in the air and calmly walked right back into the house without saying anything. I was like, “what’s happening.” When my Dad came back from the house he had two things in his hands. One was a rag and the other was duct tape. He put the rag around the pipe, and duct taped it. He walked back toward the house and said, “Bury the hole.” Morale of the story…. Anything in life can be fixed with some duct tape.