Biographical Non-Fiction posted February 21, 2021


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Growing up on the way down

My Boo Radley

by T.E. Loper


My generation shouldn't be alive. Kids had no iPhones or helmets, and monkey bars were on concrete playgrounds. City teens of color were guaranteed to be drafted and sent to Vietnam. I was one of the lucky ones: I lived in a small suburban town in South Jersey, an oasis shimmering in the summer heat rising off a vast farmland desert.

As kids on summer vacation, our mothers would demand we go out and play. The rule in my house was, "Be home by five for dinner!" My nomadic friends and I would set out unsupervised on our imaginary adventures, mounting our two-wheeled dromedaries, stopping at whichever friend's settlement was closest at lunchtime before continuing our intrepid yet carefree journeys.

One summer, both my friends suffered a fate worse than death: summer camp. I was suddenly alone. The soybean wastes are not to be traveled lightly. But Youth is incorrigible.

The tree was old and gnarled, and never to be climbed alone. As I was climbing—alone—I heard and felt a snap. When I came to, I was upside down six feet off the ground with my foot wedged in a tree crotch. Karl, the mysterious terror of our childhood imaginations, was the deaf and dumb son of a local farmer. As he came towards me, I must have fainted.

I woke leaning against the tree, my sore ankle wrapped in an old shirt, my bike beside me. Mom didn't notice my limp as I came in for dinner.



An Unexpected Rescue writing prompt entry
Writing Prompt
In 250 words (not including the title) write about an unexpected rescue that proved to be life-altering.


Boo Radley is a character from Harper Les's novel, "To Kill a Mockingbird", a must read for anyone wanting to understand current affairs in America, or for any other reason really. Just read it! For the two or three people out there who've yet to read it (you know who you are!), it's set in the Depression-era South. Reading it may give you a new perspective on the Black Lives Matter movement, gun rights, the South, and the American court system. Watch the Gregory Peck movie version if nothing else.

My mom quickly noticed my limp, and the next day we went to thank Karl in person. He died the follow spring when the old tractor he was driving rolled on him. They think he tried to accelerate too quickly and the resulting high torque caused the large rear wheels to rotate the tractor backwards, crushing him against the blades of the cultivator.

I don't know how I could ever have swung myself up to get free. I was miles from anywhere, in the middle of a wind-breaking line of tress at the far edge of a field.
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