15th Year:    From 11th of October 1942 through 10th of October 1943

High School Junior to Senior
I organized and headed up my own Junior Militia, teaching marching, close order drill, Queen Anne Arms Drill, especially saluting, and the Marine Corps Infantry Manual (contributed by my (older, foster) brother, Gus Cowan).

(Obviously, to any non-genital idiot,) we had got into World War II & any healthy man over 18 would get drafted into the Army, to fight the Germans, Italians, eventually Spanish//or communist Russians [very reasonably converted to Hitlerites] ) unless we first joined the Navy, Coast Guard or Marine Corps. Or got a girl pregnant, or were queer.

I had just learned, vaguely, about some kinds of queer-as-a-$3-bill-boys, not just farm-hand “cornholers“ [chasing hens, calves, sheep//younger boys]: But, I had never heard of female queers --eventually called “Lesbians--). 

My town-boy, Butler High School football teenagers' options, to avoid drafting, was to fail their classes thus avoid graduation: But, play football well enough to get kept in school for another year (special dispensation. Of course knocking-up//marrying any girl might work too.)

The prettiest girl on our school bus, Naomi, rode with me every day, shared a seat beside me, which she kept clear for me. We didn't "date", but stuck together to attend sport events from time to time. After games, we were usually allowed ride busses home via the school bus.

My five year older cousin & (and de facto foster brother), Augustus (Gus) Cowan, had joined the Marine Corps, as soon as he had finished High School, to (eventually) help the Marine Corps take Iwo Jima.

I first succeeded in joining the Missouri State Guard, Infantry Company. My plot was to learn about infantry tactics. (I suspected this was to get both me, and my Junior Militia, under the control of the Army, even while we were all too young to be drafted.)

Aunt Nancy came to visit & tell Mother she expected to die soon, from diabetes. I asked Mother to explain diabetes & what caused it. She said Aunt Nancy admitted eating too much sugar. (Some years before, on a trip to Butler, me dosing in the back of the wagon, I woke up sucking the corner of a two-pound sugar bag. At home, I had to confess to Dad. He whipped me for spoiling a 1/8th-pound of a two-pound bag of sugar.) This, added to Aunt Nancy’s story, launched my total-dedication to avoid eating any artificial sugar, for the rest of my life.

In the spring of 1942, I broke my arm again, all by myself. The BHS threw another student dance on a Friday night, which my parents (always) forbade me to attend. None of the girls I liked enough to want to learn to dance with (or was permitted to ask out, w/o/getting into a gang-fight with a gang of town bullies//footballers)were allowed to attend either. The dance floor had been treated to make it slick to dance on. Then, on the weekend; they tried to wash it off. That left it extremely slicker.

At my basketball practice session, next Monday morning, I was the first to run out of the showers, across the court to practice scoring baskets. I started slipping wildly around the floor, nearly falling on my butt. Throwing my hands up to catch myself against a wall, I broke my right arm in two places.  My coach drove me to a doctor’s office (first doctor’s office in my life), who found two breaks on an x-ray picture. I also noticed similar, previous breaks I had got, playing with Willis Tracy in grade school, & drew my (first) doctor’s attention to that. 

I wore a cast & sling for six weeks, learning to write with my left hand. By the end of another month, I had learned to write sentences & math formulae from opposite ends, with both hands at the same time. (Ira & I couldn’t work out a way to succeed with this, in two different languages, & still make sense.) I could do it with right-side-to with my right hand, in English, or he could do it in backward and left handed, in Spanish, but not both at the same time, because we got out of tune. The left-side brain & right-side brain couldn’t dance together, communicating through the callosum. (I had discovered the callosum, with help of an encyclopedia & dissecting the brain of a  hog I had previously been taught to terminate.)

As soon as I took off the cast, Chenoweth challenged me (via the Principal)  to a three-round, boxing match As far as I ever knew, to try to show me up as coward in front of Naomi, who rode with us to school every day in the school bus & in front of the girl sure to win the best grades in school, Ira adored & I secretly resented him loving her more than me...or Naomi... or something or sombody... just forget it). I lost, as I was afraid to hit Chenoweth with my right arm without breaking it again.  (I could not fly a P-39 again, until the cast was taken off my right arm: So, I took it off as soon as I could, to fly again. There was no real danger of crashing & burning, by flying with my one unbroken arm, but fighting risked breaking my right arm again, maybe stopping my flying for much longer, maybe forever.)

For some cock-eyed reason, Ira had,  offer to take over flying, with my left arm only: But, I did not agree, as it was too weird to try to explain to Larry, my flight trainer, who would definitely spot me doing it.

Meanwhile, Larry explained he was trying to negotiate with a Brit bomber-pilot-commander,(eventually Sir)  Basil Embry, about getting me into the RAFs Battle of Britain, directly, rather than via the RCAF. He didn’t explain everything himself, but I suspected he meant to pass me off. as Sir Basil’s runty,18 year-old bastard-son by an American woman (like Winston Churchill’s mother). I made a private plan; with some help from my Great Aunty Hoskins who always said I was 15 and I could probably convince that her that I was actually 18, only a little runty & sickly,even-behind-in-school.) I always claimed, to Larry, to be 17, a little small for my age, already, instead of 12 (nearly 13), like I really was. Before he could get whatever he intended to do, done, Basil was soon shot down, over Saint-Omer, in France & captured by the Germans. To have any hope, to stop Hitler (& Ities) from bombing London, Coventry & everybody & saving England from invasion across the (English) Channel, I had to try another way.

I got Aunt Alicee (a Holy Roller) to find a way to get me to China, after dying my white hair black, and learning some Chinese first (in San Francisco). My (with Larry’s help) plan was to be claimed by Aunt Alicee, (maybe validated by Great-Aunty Hoskins) to be her (oldest, out-of-wed-lock) Basil's son, George, a real practitioner of Holy Rolling, who ran away from home & joined a group of missionaries in China. There, I would pass as “George” (an orphaned, as Soong May Ling already thought I was). And I would travel back one more time around to southern China & find a shot-down, wrecked Zero: (Or, otherwise, personally shoot one down) and get it shipped to Canada.  

That didn’t work in time either, even after dying my cotton-headed hair black, getting a real good suntan (all over) and restoring my eye lids a little bit more like I was born with(already a lot like Grandfather Cottonhead’s slanted eye lids). In the Drama Class I learned how to use black cork to look black-as-a-crow (if needed, and from a distance), tried the make-up pencil to emphasize lines to look older and more wrinkled, stuff my nose and cheeks with cotton, to look a bit different. My independent invention was to use the outer hull of walnuts, soaked in water to get a brown colored dye which I could wipe over my hands and face to look browner. (I will not reveal the rest of this story now, but maybe write another book, just like Sir Basil did about his escape from the Germans & rejoining the RAF to become Air Chief Marshall, eventually, in command of all the British fighter squadrons. --- Instead of Me??? Damn, Damn, Damn.)

The "Secmen" house, across the road from the Engelhart farm, fell vacant, and the house fell into disrepair.  A travelling painter got a job of painting it and “subcontracted” me to do the actual painting.  When I finished painting the house, the (A** H***) painter went to the house’s new owner, collected the wages & skipped town, without paying me a penny. I complained to Dad for help, with a sheriff, or somebody. He chose to whip me with his belt, instead, for not asking him first for permission to take an outside job. I refused to submit & ran away from him. Chasing me a quarter of a mile, almost killed him from a heart attack, or heat stroke, & frightened me (and astonishingly, Ira, half to his death): But, running away saved me from mylast actual parental whipping, but not my last real threat.

Somebody had dumped a Jack Russell terrier on Dad. Perhaps, a small make-up effort, he assigned Jack to me. The two dogs, the big cross-collie/shepard pup and small grown-up terrier often fought for dominance. Once, I tried to separate then, earning a severe bite from the terrier, by mistake… I assumed. Only a couple of weeks later, they were reported to have been seen chasing sheep on the Engelhard farm: And, one or two of the sheep were found dead and partly eaten-up.

The Engelhard widow (her husband had recently fallen off his wagon, broke his neck & instantly died) came to seeDad, and insisted that both both my dogs had to be killed. I objected strenuously, arguing that the sheep could have been killed by a gang of coyotes from Kansas I had recently heard about & seen from a distance. (Totally rejected: The sheriff [El Mayor Estupido!] would not believe coyotes would cross the Missouri-Kansas border.) So, I argued, if the dogs had been involved at all, the dominate, grown-up terrier had led the attack, and pup, Wolf, had only followed the terrier, not actually harassing the sheep. Dad negotiated a settlement on the condition that I kill the terrier myself, but confine Wolf  in the barn for a month, then release him under strict probation: That, if he ever even chased (or went near any sheep again) I had to kill Wolf too. 

I killed the terrier with the high-calibre, old Savage, inherited from Uncle Charlie Yancy, in full view by Wolf. Later that summer, I took Wolf with me to hunt coyotes, to show Wolf that it was permitted to kill coyotes (or dogs) which chased (or killed) sheep. He seemed to get the idea, & would chase pack of coyotes: But, I had to shoot (at least one) coyote, if any turned our-way to defend themselves, instead of running away.

* Footnote on the Stunt Pilot. He only used Larry as his name. When I asked for his last (family) name, he said, after a long pause, “Long”. I suspected some hesitation and checked in the Library. The only “Long” was Lazarus Long, who was fictisious Jewish and very, very old. I also found that “Lazarus Long” was only mentioned by a writer named Robert A Heinlein, who turned out to be a (very rare) writer-born-in-Butler.

I had just missed meeting him, on USS Lady Lex, I had heard later about as her former Radio Operator. I began to suspect Heinlein of setting me up, to land on Lady Lex, And, for the second time, mistaken for Miss Amelia Earhart.  Then I started to read him, like I always did, every book written by a writer that I had read (& liked). Years later, I remember a book (or story) of a stunt pilot visiting a hotel in Butler, and flying from a nearby field, probably by Robert A Heinlein, but I have since lost track of that story, so far.

After Gus' departure, I shared, with Mother and Dad, (my %age):

  1. the care of 500 new chicks every spring (100%) &
  2. especially, 20 renegade, brooding hens (& their chicks), hiding in the woods (100%)
  3. hand milking (with Mother and Dad) 20 Jersey and Guernsey milch cows (twice a day) (20%)
  4. arranging for their annual breeding  (1%) &
  5. caring for their resultant calves (50%)
  6. twice-a-day slopping two sows & (occasionally) delivering about 16 pigs each (25%)
  7. killing with a hammer, cutting his throat & butchering a huge barrow for our winter table (100%, rewarded by inheriting the head 100%. until I had to bury the stinking brain) 
  8. chopping heads off  of excessive Sunday roosters or gobblers (75%) &
  9. building a fire under a iron kettle to make lard (and cracklings) from barrow fat, combined with ashes (from under the kettle), ”lye” to make soap (100%) &
  10. training Wolf to herd the cows back to the barn every evening (100%) &
  11. herding them to the north pasture after after-evening milking and back to the barn in the morning, (100% watching & checking Wolf doing the work) &
  12. most evenings (sometimes unsuccessfully) to get the 30 turkeys back from two or three miles away to a barnyard tree, instead of any tree where they found themselves at dusk (100% ordering & inspecting Wolf's success) &
  13. get the 500 chickens back to roost in their coops, or (unluckily losing to foxes, 'possums & chicken hawks) (100%) &
  14. into the hen house when big enough, every night (100%) &
  15. very little gathering & harvesting (5%) except
  16. selling crops & collecting total $ income (100%)
  17. for Dad to give the landlord 33%, & bank  67% I collected, to cover any borrowing + & pepper, salt, baking-flower, needles & thread, we could afford (100%).

Even with all the help I got from Wolf, with turkeys, cows, pigs, horses & chickens, I barely missed a cut jugular & instant death, by 2.5 X 12" slashes, from a single strand of barbed wire, strung in front of the chicken house door, to keep the cows from trampling our  potato plants in the potato patch, on their way up from the milk-barn to the north, night-time pasture.

A little too dark for me to see the barbed wire (I hadn't been told about having been installed), I chased & tried to catch, one renegade chicken, who wanted to roost in a tree with the turkeys Wolf had rounded up. Instead of me inserting it to roost in the chicken house, via the chicken house door (which I always closed and locked, after dusk, against fox & opossum raids).

I was found stunned, laying flat, bleeding copiously, on-to the ground w/two.5,12-inch-long, half-inch deep, gashes, across my chest, just below my apple-adam. My gashes were treated; washed-out with coal-oil(kerosene) as a cleanser & packed with salt, as a disinfectant. At least, that stopped the bleeding, blood poisoning or lock jaw (from tetanus), & making sewing-up-unnecessary.

(The scars, a half inch wide, I explained to girls, on Gussie's suggestion, as caused by two, crossed, Japanese Samurai Swords in two, quick, opposite, simultaneous slashes (How could that, actually, have been done??). If they were eager, I reluctantly added the part about me being hired by Canadian "secret-agents", getting caught by the Japanese in China, while I was looking for wrecks, secret plans//both, of Mitsubishi Zeros to replace Spitfires, in case the English lost the war, & we lost the source of their Merlin engines.(Close but not quite true. The Japanese never caught me, & I never received any of the six  (or seven) wrecked Zeros I shot down, I eventually credited to Adelaid Everhardt. I never admitted even looking for the seventh one, in the Aleutian Islands. Most girls quickly lost interest in my too long, (suspiciously) made-up story: But, they were not exactly right about that either.)

Next, our farm house, barns, chicken houses & most of our 500 chickens (which were my practically sole, special responsibility) along w/turkeys), & cows, along w/hogs & horses (the males I had learned to castrate) were all scattered everywhere while the barns, chicken coops, houses and the roof of the house were blown away by a (motherless-bastard) tornado [MBT].

That MBT, happened in March 1943, about 6pm. I had been reading something* in ”my” bedroom (fortunately for her, N. Eversole, who had moved back home, probably in Arkansas). Dad had just come in to get Mother & me to go to the milk barn & start milking, after Wolf had brought all the milch cows into the milking-barn, from the South Pasture.

There was an unusual, howling gust of wind across the roof. Sudden, very dark clouds quickly shut off the sunlight, until I could no longer read. Getting up to find a match & light a coal-oil lamp, I glanced out the window, to see the 500, recently hatched, chickens running madly around their coops.

I leaned against the window: And,then felt the wall of the house lean away__ from___ me.The roof did not seem to be falling on top of me: But, the bottom of the wall opened up …an eight-inch gap between it & the foundation. Mother & Dad called me desperately, to help Dad open the back door.

Before I arrived to help him, the (opening-inward-only) back-door suddenly banged open, & we got out of the house (before the roof came crushing down on us). We all dived into the adjacent storm- cellar, w/Mother-carrying-baby, Gary Keith, in her arms: And, slammed the cellar door shut, for protection. Then, all was totally quiet (& totally dark) for five minutes: This time, we opened the door and stuck our heads up: To see no barns, smokehouse (over the storm-celler, chicken coops, chicken houses, nor our house’s entire roof.

We came up from the storm cellar (with my new brother) for me to tell Wolf to get the cows together, again, to finish milking. Wolf succeeded: But, the cows were too nervous to submit to milking, even during their painful suffering, until they settled down next morning, to get relief from pain. The unmissed (at least by me) turkeys totally disappeared forever, though most of the chickens could be reassembled into the cobbled back together coops (in the cloudless, moonlit night). As far as I know, the possums & foxes did not attack (for chicken meat) until chicken's normal protection could be reinstated (while Wolf instinctively speeded up his patrolling). But, more chicken hawks re-appeared & were more actively attacking.

Re-arranging the cans of tomatoes, beef & cabbage (sour-kraut), in the storm-cellar, made enough room for us to sleep on shelves for several more nights. We stayed for days to recover all the still-living animals & keep them fed, from the remaining grain in piles where the barns had been, and prevent them from foundering (dying), by eating too much too soon.. We cleaned & cooked some of the grown-up, dead chickens, one duck & a guinea hen,over fire-pits in the our back yard, to eat: As, they were safe to eat, if cooked within a day after they died. The rest we buried, to prevent the chicken hawks coming for a feast (the only fearful-interest Ira seemed to sense).

To the end of June (when I made to excuse to cover a "secret-tryst") , the Butler High School [BHS] Principal, whom I worked for as school-secretary, let me walk the two-and-a-half miles to school from the farm Dad found, still in Bates County: But, eight miles closer to Butler. The next school year, under current regulations, I would have to attend high school in another district, which offered only (English) Reading, ‘Riting and ‘Rithmetic ... Agriculture:  But, no physics, chemistry or any foreign languages.

(Ira was very upset, about no foreign languages. Later. I found out that Ira, whoever HIS father was, he IS/WAS my ALTER, mostly, living on the right side of my brain)

I had a major problem with Dad, who wanted me to be a farmer... or his far-distant, second choice, a teacher, like Mother.  Gus and Dad had always gotten along very well, & Gus seemed to be very happy about being a farmer, even if he had to be a war fighter, temporarily. Their only possible conflict had been the total destruction (by burning) of our out-door toilet (privy). I never knew what had happened, & no one was ever suspected. The only possible suspects were a (believed-to-be-non-or-totally-secret-smoker) Gus, or some renegade smoker who had never been seen in the neighbourhood. It had been impossible to have been me (or Ira, without my knowledge), nor my non-smoking Mother or Dad.

I had got nowhere, asking my parents to help me renting a room (legally resident in) Butler to live, even if that was accepted, to keep me going to BHS, rather than attending the agricultural high school nearby. My Principal in BHS was trying to get me into University of Columbia, in Jefferson City, capitol of Missouri, to be graduated in journalism. If my family could afford it, it would be okay: If, I finished in BHS, but not from that other HS.

During my last couple of months at BHS, I spend at least half the time investigating the possibility of continuing college studying agriculture, which might be predefined if I finished my senior year in that other school (or no college at all). In that case, the sole remaining options would to stay on the farm, under Dad, indefinitely: Or, I join the Navy (or some branch of an Air Force, after 18) as soon as I got to 17 (or 18) years of age//if I could get family permission.

Overall, in any case, if I stayed on a farm, I had to reorganize my "planned" farm completely. Much more like a wild forest, with food & shelter available for both people & animals: Which, they could browse, gather & hunt over: But, not have to cultivate (and harvest) to feed people: And/or, fed to other animals, so the "pet" animals could be butchered to be fed to predators (ie people).

Agriculture, taught in schools: was beyond my consideration, to make farms into factories, not into places like that. (For the first time, I began to grasp Aldus Huxley’s final, intended point in Brave New World, after I had read in 1932.)  

I got, why the ”noble savage” was so unhappy in the “mass production” world.) From what I could find out about agriculture taught in schools, it seemed unlikely to be possible for me to have a farm, in my lifetime, which was not organized around Henry Ford's techniques of mass production. So, I preferred to improve mass production, rather that live on a kind of farm imitating a mass production factory.(Hopefully, it might be possible to improve mass production techniques, so that Henry Ford’s “mass production”-factory-like farms were unnecessary.)

To get anywhere with that, I had to rejoin my study of physics, chemistry, mathematics, science, & maybe, foreign languages. I also needed to find out what I needed & need to do: So I could find ways of staying alive,& defend people, animals & birds against war makers (like Hitler, Hirohito, Mussolini & Stalin), & weather (like tornados, dust-bowls, violent storms, floods & tsunamis*).

* Once I got to 15, I was not concerned about common, every-day, fatal diseases, wiping out the human race on Earth like all species of life forms (in the Universe) were regularly & frequently terminated (ie exterminated), I had just started to learn about.

To wind up my fifteenth year, I maneuvered, manipulated & took sole, personal control of my life... (during the next year, I gave my life & soul to the President of the United States of America (an East Coast Democrat...I did not know or trust what he said to me"Your only fear is fear itself" & the Draws offered to me as Win, Lose or Draw. By 4:00pm, the 4th of September, I ran away from the farm: Bare-foot & completely broke, I slept under-neath the band-stand in Courthouse Square. At 6:10am on the 5th, I crawled out from under, walked across the street to the corner Sandwich Shop & got my first job as a dishwasher: for food & 75 cents/day for five days/week. My breakfast & advance one-day's pay, I purchased my first (tennis, cheep but dispicable) shoes  & I went to see the HS Principal I did know & trust (his advice).