the glendoran March/April, 1993
THE REAL TREASURES OF LIFE
“To love is to die a little. There is no greater joy.”
By Dwayne Hunn
One doesn’t have to be a parent to know the joys and worries of raising young ones. In today’s society one can adopt or be a foster parent and know day in and day out the energy and time that it takes. One can also limit one s installments of parenting to being a Big Brother or Big Sister.
These are wonderful ways to help out the puzzle of life and the world together. Anyone who helps mold for another a healthy perspective and respect for life and the world, leaves the world a treasure. The world seldom gauges the value of that treasure for oftentimes its riches stay quietly hidden waiting to be discovered and treasured by others. Sometimes, in special moments, the riches of that treasure box are opened to address the needs.
In what seems like a bygone era, when we were Learning to be civilized, one didn’t wait six years for adoption papers to be cleared, didn’t apply to be a foster parent and receive state aid to help the “state” with one of its young problems, and didn’t go through screening procedures to become a Big Brother or Sister. Our romantic memories of the old days had the needs of the young filled by family and friends with a few needy slipping through the cracks.
Of course, more than just a few Orphan Annies slipped through the cracks. Nonetheless, those blessed with healthy childhood memories probably felt the grandparents, uncles, aunts and friends of the family had a much more meaningful influence on the young than seems
possible today. Making ends meet, growing up in a country and family while learning to be a citizen of a nation destined to before a time the world’s leader, seemed to provide ample opportunity to set examples and provide perspective for the young. Today many of those grooming hours seem lost to electronic pictures flashed on a screen.
The old way of doing things so often seems to be inherently healthy - working slowly, tempered by the sweat of the brow, building things personally, without overbearing bureaucratic snafus, sipping from warm cups and talking meaningfully without the overcast of a droning TV, America’s history seemed to have a lot more. If as a young one you were raised amidst that, you have a treasure.
Castles of lore are supposed to be filled with treasures. The recycled Rubelian Castle in Glendora’s back yard is adorned with neither shiny pieces of gold and silver nor refinements. It has however, left many young ones wish treasures.
To many, it was a sandbox of life. A life-sized erector set. A bin of junk that kids played in and loved as civilized grownups wondered why. A place where at any time of day an old rug or old box or old kitchen could serve as a clubhouse where friends and strangers could sit and chat. A school yard with a few rules other than those learned in the kindergartens of life.
Put the tools back where your found them...
Take your shoes off...
Don’t take yourself too seriously... “Yes, Mrs. Friesner...’
We were all young at this place. We all learned from what grew around the sandbox. The clunky cement mixer used to make the cement that would glue the castle seven stories high and Pharm hands together, hopefully for life. That’s some of what Rubelia was to its first and some of us, second wavers.
Curt, however, came later than what Rubelian
sociologist might refer to as the first and second waves. Curt came in when what might be considered the Pharm’s
budding poetic era.
The Great Glendora Mud Flood (1969) had cascaded through the center of the Pharm. And the P harm stood its ground. Major political battle lines had been drawn and fought. And the Pharm continued along on its merry, quixotic and illegal ways. Dreams of building some impressive, recycled, majestic castle had moved from foggy heads to toughened hands to walls of cemented river bed rocks and wine bottles. The lines of the castle, built to some iambic pentameter, sounded by elevator music, played from nine djfferent old radios over Michael’s
eclectic sound system, served as lyric background from which to try one’s hand at grubby poetry.
If you weren’t too civilized back then, you might believe that some kind of poetry was birthing itself on this old reservoir floor.
After the Castle had grown
a story or more off of the reservoir floor
Michael often found he needed more
than just himself and the guys around the Pharm,
To help him pile the junk some more.
After hiring many not-so-industrious workers
- to haul rock, mix cement, wheel barrows, lug
bottles, move beams
- to pile bed springs and junk steel into cementing walls
- to lay old beams and worn plywood for a shaky
- to fill old barrels with rocks and cement
- to hook the chain that lift those barrels castle high
Michael yearned for a worker
who would bring music
to his ears
and a twinkle to his eyes.
Of this, he told Ronald.
Ronald, Pharm hand, master craftsman and stained glass maker, taught his skills at a nearby high school.
So one day, Ronald sent a boy Michael’s way.
But light-weight boy.
How could Michael tell him to go?
For the work would be
too heavy for him to do.
“Oh, why! Oh why!”
Did — Knight Ronald
send such an underfed boy?
So Michael worked him easily and watched in amazement
as the boy ran to and fro
for everything Michael asked for him to do.
Late in the day, grabbing this road-runner,
“No need to run everywhere.
“Mr. Rubel, I know I am not very strong.
but what I lack in strength
I will make up in speed.
so I would like to run for you... if that’s okay
Michael paid the boy that day and said
‘Thank you very much. You worked
“Shall I come back tomorrow?”
“Ah, …let me call you.
When I have more for you to do.”
That night, Michael asked Ronald
“Why did you send me such a little boy?
He’s too small to use
For work need to build a heavy Castle.”
he is a good boy, a good worker.
He works to help support his family
He may be light in weight,
but not light hearted.
Why not try him a little longer?”
For Ronald, Michael tried him a little longer.
But, worried about the boy’s frail frame,
Michael added heaping plates of Pharm
to each work day’s routine.
The boy kept running
Kept answering “Yes, Mr. Rubel...”
Kept hauling, loading, wheel barreling,
lifting, cutting, moving, piling
Kept eating Pharm food and helping
the castle grow taller.
Though he never said much
And seldom stood long enough for photos
He added music to the sounds already there
to the crows of the Pharm’s peacocks,
quacks and cackles of its ducks,
clucks of its chickens,
wheezes of its horses
and buzz of Pharm machinery.
Plus more twinkles to the Pharm hands
already twinkling eyes,
and more curves to their smiling furrows.
As the Castle rose,
The boy’s chest and arms
became as strong as his jetting legs.
his heart and attitude remained as clean
as his face seemed on that 16th birthday.
And he built for himself
a home amidst the castle wails.
Now this Castle Made of Left Overs
Was not a normal place to work.
No resume would understand
what this work taught.
Or how it prepared you
for careers gleaned important in the world.
But to Curt, for so long,
Living and working the pharm
Meant more to him
Then resuming the resume
Of the world’s standard preparation.
Building a Castle of Junk
Without any permit is hard, dirty and dangerous work.
No planners approved this castle’s
tentative or precise plan.
No OSHA rules were heralded or heard.
Au contraire, “Safety Third” was
the emblazoned shield on the 1972 Pharm
Old pulleys lifted steel buggies
Filled with 800 pounds of rock.
Up they climbed four and seven stories.
To be rolled over cracked and holed plyboards,
Supported by dilapidated 4X4’s and
cross laid worn 2X4’s,
Balanced on dented steel drums,
And/or on pipes protruding
From the cemented boulders and bottles
Of the completed wall below.
Wheeling Pharm buggy loads
across these dangerous high roads
Was no safe and easy chore.
Yet the dream and magic of finishing the
Pushed Michael and his helpers.
So even though each step was dangerous
Another crazy, dangerous step would be taken.
Toward the million steps and
Hundreds of thousands of rocks and
Tons of cement and beams and steel
That would go into building the strong torso
of this junky Castle.
Enroute to building
A boy’s castle
To fulfill a man’s dream
This conversation was heard.
Firmly planted on ground below,
To the boy four stories up,
Who was about to wheel a buggy laden with
Over the patchwork of plyboards, 4x4’s
To its next cementing spot.
“Curt, be very careful”
“Yes, Mr. Rubel” he always said,
As he pushed the buggy
Over its lumpy, planked and creaking trail.
“...Curt, stop! Put the buggy down.”
“Yes, Mr. Rubel, Did I do something wrong?”
Curt, do you understand how important it is that you be ‘very’ careful?”
“I will be careful, Mr. Rubel”
“...Curt, do you understand...
that... my life is in your hands?”
“Do you understand that my life…is in your hands?”
“You’ve got to understand that my life is in your hands…”
While the grown man looked up,
The boy looked down.
What seemed like minutes passed their gaze
As thoughts climbed and fell
from the protruding rocks, pipes, steel
nestled between them in the Castle Walls.
“If you should fall and seriously hurt yourself...
if anything bad happens to you...
I could not live with myself...
“You see, Curt,
You must be very careful..
For my life is in your hands.”
the glendoran March/April 1993