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The Battle for Alvin Heights and chasing guinea fowl

By Edward Forbes / The Bulletin

The two young boys, 8 and 7 years of age, belly-crawled up to assess the enemy’s situation. The area around their fortress had been cleared of every vestige of vegetation in a 3-foot perimeter. They observed for 15 or 20 minutes and then dropped back to their defensive position to inspect their weapons.

Each had a Daisy BB gun, the model that had a receiver for BBs that screwed into the barrel. A spring with a tab attached was depressed to a notch that the tab nestled into.

BBs were then loaded until receiver was full, tab released to hold BBs. The lever action on the “rifles” would release one BB into firing chamber. A full receiver held at least fifty BBs. If you were low on BBs, you could drop a kitchen match into barrel end of receiver, and it would fire the match.

You could leave the receiver out and drop a small rock into the barrel, and it could be fired like a mortar. We were a fearsome force and were prepared to do battle.

“Donnis, you shoot BBs at ‘em as they come out of the fort,” Eddie, the elder, ordered.

“I will fire kitchen matches at larger groups.”

The campaign outlined, they belly-crawled forward to a position a few feet from the enemy’s perimeter. They were aided by the red ants routinely having large amounts of sand on the mound. This would lead to the matches igniting if fired at the proper angle.

“Fire at will” I ordered as we sprang to our feet.

BBs peppered the area around the mound’s opening, striking few, killing less.

Matches fired at groups of ants struck and ignited at about a 20 percent rate. We did battle for a short while and retreated to the house for a drink of cool water.

This was a frequent summer activity when chores were done, and there were no adults around to assign additional duties.

We had some guinea fowl, although possession was a relative notion. They were black-and-white speckled in color and ran very fast.

One alternate activity was called “follow the guineas.” They would run through the yard for feed and immediately take off again, running through the tall grass like the wind.

We made a sport of “follow the guineas.” Plural is not an accident. They always seemed to run in groups (technically gaggles).

We would run for hours trying to find where they would go, but rarely saw them except at feeding time.
We never ate one or had one of their eggs. We just watched them come and go like Houston traffic, fast and furious.

These were good times.