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Jane of the Jungle
11:58 a.m. - 2002-09-02

Some of the best times of my life were spent with Tarzan. During the summers when I was a kid, we had wonderful times playing our fantasy games, pretending to be Tarzan and Jane in the jungle. I was the oldest of the group (my older brother did not join in much), so I was able to choose to be Jane and my sister was Tarzan. My middle brother, far down on the family power ranking, was Cheetah. We were not rich people, but we certainly had a wealth of imagination and raw materials. Somehow or other we had two sawhorses, one very strong and one sort of wobbly, a big wooden door, and wooden Seven-up boxes, the kind the sodas were transported in at that time. We had over a dozen of them. They were very strong, but had metal krinkled strips reinforcing the corners, and sometimes these stuck out a bit and sliced off a bit of unwary flesh.

We would set up the two sawhorses parallel to each other and about 4 or 5 feet apart, and then we would lay the door on top. Then, using the seven-up boxes like large building blocks, we would build a fort on top, leaving a hole for a window. Sometimes the whole contraption would collapse, but we lived charmed lives, on the whole, and no major injuries occurred. When you are a kid and you play a pretending game, it seems very real at the time. Our games would have a plot of capture, rescue, vine swinging (we really mourned the lack of a really good vine to swing on), and would last for days. My mother gave us some old kitchen stuff to use in the "Jungle" house, and since I was Jane and spent more time in the jungle kitchen, I remember that part of it.

Just think how great this was for my mom. We were out of the house, not fighting, and except for the occasional catastrophe, we were no bother. Our backyard was bordered by a wooden fence about 5 feet high. The fence had a board about the size of a two-by-four across the top holding the other boards in place. We were always on that fence. We could walk along the top of it, balancing ourselves, and peer into other peoples' yards. Dogs could not reach us, and we could move fast. This is also why we were good on the balance beam in high school gymnastics. From the top of the fence, we could climb onto the house roof and look out over the world.

In those days they used to shoot fireworks off at the highschool on the 4th of July and you could see it from the roof. People would get blankets and snacks and sit on their roof and watch the show. One summer, one of the uncles made an interesting snack - he cut bologna up into pieces and mixed it with mayonnaise, pickle relish and a little mustard, and then made sandwiches out of it. This was new, different, and tasty to me at the time. To me, bologna came in a slice and the thought of changing its shape had never occurred to me. Life is full of new opportunities and just because you were born a slice doesn't mean you have to stay that way.

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