Boys Will Be

[My mother, Margaret June Stephens Peters, wrote this story for an assignment when she was in college. Years later, being a compulsive editor, I did some minor adjustimg to it and tried, without success, to find a publisher for it. It's based on a true event in the lives of her mother (Josie) her uncle (Arthur) and their cousin (Cecil). You young whippersnappers will have to ask an elder about Victrolas and clotheslines.]


“What’s that box? Is it a Victrola?”

“Awww, leave us alone, can’t you?”

“What’s that box? Where didja get it? What are you gonna do with it? Huh? Tell me. You’d better or I’ll tell Grandma you boys are playing in this old barn again.”

“Yeah? Well, you tell Grandma that Cecil and me is in this barn, and I’ll tell her you been in the brown sugar again. Look at you—sufferin’ cats—I bet that’s the sixth layer of sugar you’ve licked off that one hunk of bread.”

“It’s not either. How do you know anyway, smarty?”

“Huh, ask me a harder one. I can tell by the rings on your face. The sixth ring’s in the makin' now.”

“What’s that crank on that funny box for?”

“Say, keep your sticky fingers off that crank. What’s it to you? Go on, scram! Go dress the cat in doll clothes and wheel him up and down the front walk in your doll buggy.”

“Ha-haha-ha! Guess your big brother Arthur is handin’ you your hat and coat, Josie. You better go play with the cat like he says. Hey, Art, do I hook this wire to that plug or this one?”

“Let’s see. Why, you hook it to this one. I hooked it wrong while the pest was here. Got everything all fixed? How’s the crank? Plenty of juice? Osky-wow-wow, let’s shoot the works.”

“Ha-haha-ha! Wonder how long we gotta wait.”

“Not long, Cease, look—here comes the rooster now. Wow! Is he ever in for a surprise. Get set. He’s gonna grab some corn in the pan. There, quick—turn the crank! Whoops, look at him. . . . Oh my gosh. I can’t sit up any more, my belly’s so sore from laughing. I bet that ol’ rooster don’t eat another grain of corn without he looks for wires from the pan first.”

“Ha-haha-ha. Art, that was great. Come on, let’s get ready for another one. Shhh. Here comes a hen. Crank! Got her.”

“Aww, shucks, Cease, no more chickens will come. The corn must be poor.”

“Ha-haha-ha. Them hens ain’t so dumb. They know something funny’s up if the old rooster won’t eat. What’ll we shock now?”

“Hey, Cease, I got it! I got it! Let’s hook in on the clothesline! Josie’s washing her doll clothes way over there in the yard. Get the idea, huh? Come on, we got to work fast though.”

“Ha-haha-ha! She’s gonna find out what the crank’s for on this funny box, ain’t she, Art?”

“Yeah, but step on it, Cease. Hurry up and slip out there. Take that wire off the chickens' pan and put it on the clothesline. Yeah, that’s it. All right now, Josie, old girl, here’s hoping you soon get those clothes clean enough to suit you.”

“Ha-haha-Ha! This is gonna be fun. Hey look, Art. There comes your grandma. Look, she’s gonna hang up those towels.”

“I got a notion to give it to her, Cease. Dare me?”

“Sure I dare you, but you won’t do it.”

“Won’t I? All right, watch me. See, she’s pickin’ up a towel from the basket. Now she’s taking a clothespin out of her mouth. Now—here—goes—“

“Gee, Art, look at her. She sure did jump. Gee, she’s put down the towel and she’s shakin’ all over.”

“Yeah, but she’s gonna try it again. I bet she’s scared though.”

“Ha-haha-ha, dare you, dare you. You’re ‘fraid to do it again.”

“Oh, I am, am I? Now—there. I did, didn’t I?”

“Gee, Art, you did. But what’s your grandma doin’? Look, she’s beatin’ it to the house. Golly, Art, you’ve done it now. I’d sure hate to be in your shoes.”

“Aw, shut up. You dared me, didn’t you?”

“Yeah, but you turned the crank. Wonder what your grandma’s doin’. Look, here comes Josie out of the house. She’s comin’ down here, too,”

“Darn sisters.”

“Hey, Arthur and Cecil. I know something you don’t know, I know something you don’t know. Grandma phoned Doctor Duncan ‘cause she just had a stroke of paralysis. Hey, you fellers, where you going? Say, what’s this crank for?’