I grew up in a small, laid back town in West Virginia-where everybody knew everybody. I lived right next door to my grandparents and to my aunt and uncle. At the end of our back yards was a small alley way that led right into our neighbors' back yards. No one belived in private fences then, so all the yards ran together like branches on a vine...one could barely tell where one yard left off and another began. This created a wonderful playground area that invited all the neighborhood children in. Every evening my sisters and i would play with Charlie and Cheryl Ball. They would come over across the alley and some days we would play from the time the dew was soaking our feet until we were giving lightning bugs a mason jar home. Cheryl was a gymnast and had a huge jungle gym that I longed to play on more than anything. There was just one problem---Brutus. Brutus was Cheryl's boxer. To most people Brutus was a medium sized dog but to me he was Goliath! And so my fear of dogs kept me from exploring the world of gymnastics.
However, one day my curiosity got the best of me. I had ventured outside on my own and noticed that Brutus was asleep in his cage. I decided this was my chance to go for the gold medal and I crept quietly by the sleeping beast. I climbed up the ladder and grabbed on tight to the horizontal bars. Those two minutes of swinging and flipping were pure ecstasy for me! That was until I completed my "perfect ten" dismount and landed right in front of Brutus' cage. It was at that point that my gold medal hopes were gone because I realized his door was open and he was awake!! A wave of panic swept over my little body and I raced through the yard like a bat out of hell. But so did Brutus!
Cheryl's father, who had been mowing his yard, jumped in on the chase in an effort to keep me from being Brutus' next meal. My uncle, hearing Mr. Ball's stream of obscenities, became the fourth member of our game of chase. Hearing the tremendous ruckus, my grandfather slid out from his truck he had been working on and slipped into a close fifth place position. During this entire time I had been loudly pleading with God to help me. Help me! Please! And He did. The Dallas Cowboys had nothing on the tackling that transpired that afternoon. A huge huddle of men and beast lay in the middle of another neighbor's yard and I had been saved! Those men were my heros...the unsung heros of Hunsaker Street.
That summer I lost interest in gymnastics. Gold medals were no longer my desire. Instead, I used this experience to concentrate on ribbons and brought home the blue ribbon in our school relay!