What do you mean -- let the game begin? It was always game time for the Fabulous Fahey Boys. Remarkably there were only five of them in a family where one set of grandparents had a dozen siblings and the other had a total of eight. Amazing also was the fact that they all survived the influenza epidemic of 1918-19, which killed 1,555 of every 100,000 persons, and the following epidemics in 1922, 23, 26 and 1929 that got almost 550 per 100,000. These statistics didn't take into account the fact that the rural population suffered a higher ratio of deaths because clinics and hospitals were not readily available for them.
The cards they were dealt were also stacked against their chances of survival insofar as three of the boys were born in autumn when the epidemic was at its peak. The start was in September 1919 with the birth of James. In the following years Dewain arrived in August, Dennis in September, and William in December. Theodore was born much later, in June of 1934, in Sioux City, Iowa where heating the home was not as much a problem. The father was a very good poker player who, with his brother Will, went to Moose Jaw, Canada and played poker to make plenty of money to get them through the bad times. Will was reputed to have a neck long enough that he could crane his head so far that he could see the cards in the hand of someone sitting on the opposite side of the table. The mother often said that the biggest mistake she ever made was making him give up on his gambling. Perhaps his good luck got them through.
This prevalent high birthrate in the autumn was a reflection of the severe winters in the northernmost of the midwestern states. The cold and snow kept the farmers isolated in their homes through the winter. Many of the houses were dug down so half was below ground level and with a thick sod roof to keep out some of the cold. Bare dirt floors were neatly swept clean. Even with this edge, keeping warm was a problem. The pot bellied iron stoves, with peat as their fuel, did not give off much heat. More ashes and smoke were generated than heat, so body heat being more welcome and readily available was the first choice of most of the snowbound occupants.
With only 144 acres of land, or a section as it was called, the maximum that could be homesteaded, and the expectation of a decent crop only once in five years, father decided to give it up and move to Sioux City, where the chances of getting a job seemed to be the answer. The boys all spent their early years in Sioux City until World War Two came along to disrupt their lives and also give them a chance to do more than work in a Meat Packing Slaughter house. At that time Sioux City boasted itself as the home for Swifts, Armour, Cudahay, and other big packing houses. The discharge from their operation was spewed directly into the Floyd river that emptied directly into the Missouri river without any treatment whatsoever. Everyone knew the swift currents would soon dissipate any harmful organisms in the discharge. Today the units are located across the river in Nebraska but still call themselves Sioux Beef. To be honest, the operation has been cleaned up. Now there are holding ponds properly aerated and the effluent is treated before discharge, even without the E.P.A.
The Fahey Boys' father was unique in his own right. He had only the benefit of a fourth grade education but was an avid reader of the two local newspapers and was well aware of local and world events. He strongly disagreed with the way the allies fought World War II. His opinion was that the Allies should arm both the Axis Powers and the Russians and let them exterminate each other. The Cold War would have been unnecessary had they followed his course. He worked for a paving company and his foreman could ask him how many yards of concrete they would need for the next day's pour. The father could look at the section due to be poured and without the benefit of a slide rule or calculator would come up with the correct amount.
In those days just like today, if a person shows a goodly amount of skill in doing his job, management wanted to promote him to a level above his competence. The father realizing this, refused a promotion that miffed management and led to his termination. This turn of events led him to go to work with the street department for the city. The job was steady in good weather even if the pay was only marginal. The paved streets in the city were cleaned by the flusher -- a tanker truck that spewed out a high pressure stream of water that flushed any debris into the storm drains. The unpaved roads were maintained by a tractor-drawn blade that leveled the streets and and filled in the ruts.
The father never went outside the house without his felt hat. On one occasion a neighbor was plowing a garden across the street, with his mule pulling the plow. The father thought the mule skinner was beating the mule with too much vigor and was going to go over and give him some of his own medicine. Fortunately for all involved he had misplaced his hat and by time he found it the mule skinner and the mule had already left for home base.
The father was of the black Irish extraction with the name of John, a cousin, also named John, was one of the red Irish. To differentiate the pair they were referred to as to either red John or black John. In l988 in Lakota and Stump Lake, North Dakota, a family reunion was planned by the descendants of both of these John's. Another reunion happened in Grant's Pass, Oregon in 1992. On both occasions about 150 direct descendants were at the event. Even though the Irish have a love of whiskey (it is mandatory even at a wake for the dead, the spirits must be given their due accord) there was no incident of violence registered and the park maintenance crew complimented them for their picking up of all the litter that is normally left behind. The old Irish do not recognize either Irish coffee or Irish tea unless it has a dash of whiskey in it.
In spite of their love of fellow Irish they can be very unforgiving as was the case when Dennis met a fully mature cousin who gave him quite a tongue-lashing. This was because when he was in Lakota on his Harley Davidson motorcycle in 1950, at least 40 years before, he gave her sister a ride on the bike, but because she was too young to hang on, he refused to give her the thrill of the year for her. No mention was made of the fact that the older sister was quite a beauty and more along in years.
The motorcycle incident was the result of a series of events. Dennis was in between wives and working for the post office in Los Angeles when he started getting severe headaches. He went to a doctor that told him to see an eye doctor. The eye doctor said his problem was acute astigmatism caused by the fluorescent lighting used where the letter sorting took place. Dennis had a job entitled Temp. Sub. Clerk. A sub clerk could work any number of hours, but a permanent clerk could only work 40 hours per week. A nice money maker but Dennis decided he didn't want to wear tinted glasses, so he hired on as a driver for the Los Angeles Transit System.
Dennis later knew this was the best thing that ever happened to him. He got over his inferiority complex when he saw what the masses had to offer. As the driver in uniform and in the driver's seat, the beautiful young girl passengers eagerly sat in the seat behind him and readily engaged in conversation with him. He enjoyed the job that included an early trip in the morning with a split shift until the afternoon run came up. During the split he could either play pinochle, with the losing team buying lunch, or go to Manhattan Beach and get a fresh crab and a swim during the break. When he was driving and a passenger or passengers got unruly, he would set the brake and go back and tell the unruly ones to sit down and not to bother the fares or they would be ejected at the next stop. After order was restored, the bus would proceed. A bus driver today doing the same thing would either be shot or stabbed within one week. With only 132 pounds of weight to throw around he learned that a good bluff is worth more than a lot of brawn.
The Fahey Boys all deemed this philosophy right and proper but they were ready to back their words if needed. In one instance Dennis was in a local bar when a patron was harassing the cocktail waitress who was very nice and popular. Dennis tapped the "un-gent" on the shoulder and told him to keep it clean. The character spun around and said "Are you looking for trouble." The answer he got from Dennis was, "No, I make my own, do you want a sample?" The fellow did not bother the waitress after that.
In another similar incident, William and Ted were in a bar called The Annex in Seaside, California, in the close proximity of the Army Fort Ord Military Garrison. They were accompanied by the husband of the woman Bill had his sights on. A burly character came in and was causing trouble for the patrons. Bill pulled a coin from his pocket and said "Flip for it, odd man wins." Ted readily agreed and the friend not knowing what he was doing brought out his coin and joined the contest. Ted won the toss and to the surprise of the innocent friend found out that the winner had to eject the loud-mouthed troublemaker.
Now Ted was very formidable, standing six feet tall and weighing in the neighborhood of 180 pounds. He served on the navy ship, The Boxer, and had more of his share of martial arts lessons. Ted sauntered up to the troublemaker, chucked him under the chin and said "I want you to get out of here right now." The man tucked his tail between his legs and promptly left the premises. Had the newcomer realized what he was flipping for he never would have agreed to the toss. In the same bar, one of a clan of fighting brothers came up to Ted and informed him that his brothers didn't think he could beat him, but he thought he could. At this point Ted got him in a hammer lock and cocked his fist preparing to rearrange the character's facial features. Instead of doing this he just gave him a back handed toss into the wall of the tavern and let him go to slink off in disgrace. When asked later why he did that, he replied magnanimously that he threw him back so he could grow up.
In a similar incident, Dennis was following a nice looking lass who was in the process of going from one bar to another, when he was accosted by a marine in uniform who was also accompanied by a buddy. The marine informed him that the lass was off limits. They had their sights on her. Dennis got nose to nose with the marine and told him that if that was how he felt, they should go across the street to the dark park and see who would come back to resume the chase. Even though the marine outweighed Dennis by at least 30 pounds, he stepped back and stuttered, "Don't get so close to me." The marine and his buddy slinked off, but during the interlude the quarry had disappeared and there was no winner. A terrible waste.
Dewain was different from his brothers insofar as he didn't mind pain, as was evident on one occasion when the family was visiting their cousins' farm in Nebraska. For some unknown reason Dewain got caught wringing the neck of a gosling. He received a good lashing with a switch, but afterwards his mother heard him tell his little cousins that the harder his mother licked him, the better he liked it. Upon hearing this, to keep him happy, his mother gave him a harder switching. In a fight with his buddies, Dewain just slugged it out whereas the other brothers relied on a good left jab to keep their opponent at bay, and then a follow-up right cross for the coup de gras.
Dennis had the advantage when boxing in the C.C.C. camps or in the Army because he was over square to begin with. This meant that his reach from fingertip to fingertip was greater than was his height. This fact, coupled with the fact that he had long skinny legs but a well-developed torso, gave him an advantage over most of his opponents. They carried a lot of weight in their legs that could not be used very effectively, unless for kick boxing, which hadn't yet made the scene. Even to this day he cannot get a shirt that fits just right. If it fits his shoulders, the sleeves are too short and he could not button the collar button. This posed a problem in the Army where the top button had to be buttoned or at least appear to be buttoned. This problem was solved with a clasp that held the collars in the correct military configuration.
The big advantage of getting on the boxing team was that the team was relieved from extra duty in the form of K.P. or guard duty. Instead of extra duty they were allowed to go to the gym and practice on the punching bags and spar with their other buddies on their team. When he did get the extra duty of K.P., Dennis found it interesting. Shredded coconut, green and black olives, plus many other condiments were at hand that never appeared on the menu. This made the task of peeling potatoes more tolerable. And, on the subject of food, Dennis found that the boys' menu in Sioux City served him well during his basic training at Camp Callan near Lajolla, California. There happened to be a large surplus of goats on Catalina Island and so the army served a lot of good goat meat. Many of the troops had an aversion to goat meat, but Dennis "pigged out" on his favorite meat.
This phase of Dennis' military career only lasted three months. As a result of his score in the Army IQ. test when indoctrinated, he was scheduled to go to Radio Repair School in Los Angeles upon completion of his basic training in a 90 millimeter Anti Aircraft Battalion. The 90 mm weapon, unlike the famous German 88 mm, was only designed to fire at aircraft and could not be used for horizontal fire at enemy tanks or troops, and so was soon obsolete. With his assignment to radio repair school, he was automatically given the rank of Tech. 5 (corporal) with the accompanying raise in pay and prestige.
Dennis firmly came to believe that he was instrumental in the ending of the Great War. To begin with, when he had finished training on the 90 mm antiaircraft unit, the war of supremacy in the air had already been decided in favor of the allies. After his radio training and receiving the rank of Technician Fourth grade, he was assigned to a battalion that utilized half track vehicles with a turret to control 4 machine guns of 50 calibre. By the time he had gone through basic training again with his new outfit (his second basic course) Rommel had been defeated in Africa. These half track units were designed for desert warfare and were useless in either Europe or the Pacific Islands, so the outfit was decommissioned.
His next assignment was with a Signal Corps unit, training to go ashore with the infantry storming the beaches and to set up lines of communication while a beach head was secured. The commanding officer was a West Point graduate who had been passed over for promotion on several occasions. When an officer remained in grade too long without a promotion, the superior officers automatically assume that he shouldn't be upgraded. The Captain knew this and tried too hard to compensate for his shortcomings. A mutual dislike between the Captain and Dennis was a fact at their first inspection.
A rifle inspection was a precision event. The soldier stood at attention properly holding the rifle in front of himself. He was taught that when he first saw a flicker of movement in the officer's shoulder he should drop his hands leaving the rifle in mid-air. It was the officer's duty to smartly snap up the piece and smartly return it to the soldier. The inept Captain let the rifle fall to the floor and by rule had to pick it up and hand it to Dennis. Very embarrassing for the Captain.
The next incident occurred when Dennis was assigned to guard three prisoners. The prisoners were not of the violent type, their crime was overstaying their passes, A.W.O.L., to wit. The guards had to have their rifle with them on guard duty even though they were not issued bullets. The only time a weapon was loaded was on the target range, and then every shell was dutifully accounted for. Lunch time came around and Dennis took the prisoners to the mess hall from the orderly room so they could eat. The Captain blew his stack because Dennis had left his post. No Article of War covered a case like this, so no disciplinary action could be taken by the Captain.
Today three strikes and you are out. Two down and one to go. The third strike happened just after Dennis returned from Ft. Monmouth, New Jersey. He had been sent there to take a course on the frequency modulated radio equipment just making the scene. The new transceivers had been installed on many of the mobile units. Because of their short range and ability to change frequency of transmission it was almost impossible for the enemy to monitor their calls. Only five of the eighty crystal channels could be used at any given time, but the crystal frequency could be, and often was, changed several times a day to confuse the enemy.
After finishing his F.M. Radio Training in Ft. Monmouth, Dennis resumed his assigned duty in Camp Bowie , near Brownwood, Texas. One day Dennis went to the motor pool to check out his jeep so he could monitor distance and clarity of their radios. Being a practical person and showing his caring for machinery, he was in the act of checking and inflating the tires of the jeep when the Captain came storming up and told him there was a tire pump in the jeep that was made for that purpose. Dennis promptly informed the Captain that the compressor was made for the same purpose and was a
hell of a lot more efficient. In an uncontrolled rage, the Captain shouted "You know soldier, I don't like your attitude." The calm answer in return, "Well, Captain, I know many soldiers that don't like your attitude" did nothing to smooth the already troubled waters.
With this latest affront, the Captain decided to get rid of his pain in the side. He somehow pulled strings and had Dennis transferred to an adjacent artillery unit. This unit trained with 155 mm cannons and was due to depart for the European battlefield within 60 days. Once again Dennis was instrumental in ending the war. Before the 60 days had passed, the war in Europe was winding down and the heavy artillery was no longer needed there. In the jungle warfare and island-hopping, this artillery would be useless, so yet another unit was disbanded.
The 81st Signal unit that Dennis had been ejected from did not fare as well. The war in the Pacific was still going strong and they got their orders to ship out. Dennis was on hand to wave good-bye to the Captain, who at this time could not rescind the transfer. Sad to say, the signal company did hit the beaches and suffered many casualties. Sometimes a big mouth can have its advantages, as was so in this case. Shortly after this, Dennis went to San Antonio to see the Alamo and get his honorable discharge.
Grandmother monitored all of the Fahey clan during WW II and did not come up with even one fatality. Bill was captured by the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge. The parents had been visiting relatives in Nebraska and when they returned found two telegrams from the War Department. The first was a "We regret to inform you that your son William has been declared Missing in Action." Under the pile of mail was the second wire, informing them that William was back with his unit and doing well. A case of frostbite that cleared up was the worst of his ordeal.
James' tour of duty was in Iran with a transportation company whose duty it was to be sure supplies got to the allied army in Africa and then later in southern Europe. The greatest hazard there was the 130 degree temperature during the day and the ever prevalent sand fleas and other habitants of the desert. The dry desert air dropped to near freezing as soon as the sun set, but the cold was easier to compensate for, so most of their operations were carried out during the night time.
In typical fashion of the Fahey Boys, James realized the value of the red tail light lenses of the military vehicles on hand. He discovered that the Iranians had a very great fondness for rubies. When the lenses were properly broken up, they could be sold for many of the Irani rials. The rial was good in the market place to buy any item of contraband nature. This arrangement lasted until some of the other soldiers got wind of the scam. With the increase supply of "rubies" and the natives wising up, the ruby market plummeted. It was great while it lasted.
Dewain, on the other hand, did not fare as well. He spent his tour of duty in combat with the Japanese army. His weapon was a Browning Automatic Rifle that required as much ammunition as would tax a healthy burro. He participated in action in most of the assaults on the islands, including the Philippines. When on a patrol, his lieutenant was leading the squad up a defile. Dewain told the lieutenant the area ahead was a likely spot for an ambush. He was unceremoniously told who was boss. The ambush did happen and Dewain and only one other member of the squad survived. His hobbit-like ability to hide and slink, learned as a kid, turned out to be his ticket to longevity.
Dewain did not get by completely unscathed, however. After his unit had recaptured Manila, he hitch-hiked a ride with another soldier on a jeep that was heading his way. During the drive they had a very friendly conversation. When the driver stopped to let Dewain out, he said "Thanks for the ride, Baldy." The driver, who was bald, took offense and grabbed a 10 inch crescent wrench and back-handed Dewain in the mouth, breaking off one of his front teeth. He came out better on another incident when he awoke in a small brewery with a hangover and the sound of war all around him. In spite of not knowing which direction friendly lines were, he wound up on the right side of the firing lines.
Fate came into play to rescue Dennis from his job as a bus driver when his lungs started giving him a bad time. The smog in Los Angeles was at its peak and with Dennis driving in traffic all day, the exposure took its toll. His lungs started giving him problems. He went to a free X-ray screening unit that gave him a clean bill of health. But the problem persisted and he contacted a doctor who promptly recommended he get out of the Los Angeles smog. He quickly had his Harley overhauled and headed north, leaving the young lass he shared quarters with, because she didn't want to get married at this time, preferring to fend for herself. She was quite capable of caring for herself so no harm done. Somehow the lass located him two years later, after he had remarried and had a beautiful daughter that he wouldn't dare give up. It seems by then she wanted him to marry her.
The first stop was in Reno, Nevada where, in spite of all of the odds, he managed to come out with over $200.00 before he resumed his journey. The journey didn't cost much, because all he had to do to get gas was to pull into any farm that had an ample gasoline supply for their equipment and ask for a couple of gallons. He did break a chain, but was near a farm implement company that had the same chain that would have cost twice as much at a H. D. dealer. So far so good. He saw the Snake River and the Craters of the Moon (more images) in Idaho, and many other sights that a person in an auto would not get off the beaten path to investigate.
Dennis wound up in Lakota at the home of the son of their father's sister, named Ann. Here is where he discovered that the rural farmers were not as self-sufficient or as capable as he had been led to believe. The cousin, Tony by name, had problems with the electrical wiring which Dennis took care of easily. More formidable was the problem with their outhouse (the Fahey Boys were familiar with outhouses). This one was built during the time of Franklin Delano Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration. The outhouse was well built with a concrete floor that would last forever. The problem was that the pit to hold the offal had filled up -- and one could not sit on the opening in the bench. The bloody thing had filled up.
Dennis told the cousin to go to work in the field the next day and that he would take care of the problem. While the cousin was out working in the field the next day, Dennis dug a deep pit next to the back of the outhouse. When he decided it was deep enough he punched a hole in the pit allowing the offal to surge into the newly dug pit. With this method, the outhouse was good for another thirty years. Score another one for the city slickers.
When Dennis was working on a farm in Montana, the combine crew was ready to commence with the harvest. The truck that should follow the combine just wouldn't move because the brakes were locked up. Another incident in regard to the ability to accomplish anything of note. Dennis grabbed a 7/16 inch wrench and proceeded to bleed the air in the brake lines that had expanded and locked up the brakes. The combining went on as had been planned after this incident, to the amazement of the farmers who envisioned a trip to town to get a mechanic to come out the 25 miles to take care of the problem.
Dennis also came out ahead of the owner of the farm insofar as the boss was a brusque individual that was not given to compliments. Dennis, on the other hand, loved good food and didn't miss a chance to compliment the wife on her culinary expertise, compliments she sorely needed. As a result of this action on the part of Dennis, the husband couldn't interrupt Dennis to milk the cow they had, even at breakfast-time, until Dennis had finished eating. The dutiful wife brought out food five times a day when he was busy driving the tractor, discing the field. He also impressed her with the fact that he took a shower every day. A thing that the old man thought a waste of time and water.
The young couple wanted Dennis to remain on the payroll through the winter and he was almost ready to go along with their wishes even though he knew there would be very little work to do in the long cold winter to come. His mind was made up to leave when the husband said he was going deer hunting the next day. After he had left, the wife told Dennis she would teach him how to dance. The intimate way she was dancing convinced Dennis that he did not want to be the recipient of a 30. calibre Winchester slug, so he took off for Cut Bank, Montana the next day. A very short-lived romance.
Getting back to Sioux City, the boys had a next door neighbor, a very small man with a typical Napoleon complex. He had three children, two daughters and one son. He treated them very badly and they resented it very much. As a result of this animosity towards their father, the neighbor kids told the Fahey Boys their father was going to be hiding in their outhouse one night to catch them in their favorite pastime.
To understand their favorite pastime, you must know what their most important days of the year were. First was when school was let out for summer vacation in June. The second was the Fourth of July, with homemade real ice cream and cherry bombs, spit devils, firecrackers, sparklers, rockets and many other now outlawed fireworks. Not to be forgotten were the grand display of rockets at Riverside on the night of the Fourth. The third important day (for obvious reasons) was Christmas, when even if the toys were not too plentiful, the food was fantastic, especially the home grown goose and the donuts fried in goose grease. Last but not least was Halloween. For them, Halloween started on the first day of October and lasted the entire month.
In those days the kids didn't go out for trick or treat. The intended victim just was given no choice -- it was simply a matter of trick. Halloweening as it was called, started on the first night of the month of October and lasted until the grand finale party at the local elementary school. The boys' most enjoyable trick was upending outhouses as they were called. These outhouses consisted of a shed-like structure standing over an open pit. Inside was a bench with two oval holes cut out for sitting on. The single door
invariably had a crescent moon cut into it for identification purposes. Indoor plumbing as we know it today did not exist in the neighborhood.
The kids of Mr. Rider, by name, with due respect because of the way the old man treated them, confided to the Fahey boys that their father planned to hide in the outhouse to catch them in the act one night. Armed with this good news, the boys rounded up several of their buddies. When darkness had set in, the reinforced Army crept to the rear of the outhouse, and all together in a very coordinated effort tipped the little shed over, with the only door facing down on the ground. The only exit for the hapless Mr. Rider was to squirm through the adult opening in the bench and then in spiderman fashion work his way to safe ground without slipping into the pit. In a way Mr. Rider was lucky. The boys considered the score even and didn't bother him again in the following years.
Right after the above incident happened, the Fahey family moved to another house just one block away from their former home. This new home remained their home until World War Two came along and changed everything for them. They all discovered that there were better places to live than Sioux City and they all ended up as California residents by the time the war ended. The property was a prime one acre site with many fruit trees, good soil for a garden, a large chicken house, and a double garage with a full-size loft above. The house had only one bedroom, a medium size kitchen with a large pantry, a large dining room and a good roomy front room. Theodore, the youngest of the boys, had not yet been born when they moved in to their new quarters. Using their ingenuity, the two adults and four boys found enough room to get by nicely.
They had reason to love the place. To start, the rent was only $12.00 per month. The garden gave them an abundant supply of produce during the summer months. The fruit trees yielded apples, plums, cherries, and mulberries enough for their immediate use and for canning to stock the cellar for winter months -- no shortage of vitamin C. The preparation of the soil for planting and the pulling of the many weeds was not too pleasant a task, but was taken in stride, and the reward for their labor was ample.
Their next event, starting out as an innocent prank, caught the attention of the two local newspapers and radio stations. It started with an article in the newspaper relating to the Ku Klux Klan. Colored people were then referred to as niggers out of respect for their Nigerian ancestry. Now the term is taboo, just as the Mexicans should be referred to as Hispanics, even though a very few of them can trace their roots to the Spanish conquistadors.
There were few Negroes in Sioux City at that time and they kept to a small ghetto called the "south bottoms". One of the local high schools in fact had only two out of four hundred students who were of colored lineage. They were accepted quite well in Sioux City. Its boundaries, Morningside and the north side were where the elite lived, while the west side where the Fahey boys lived was the middle class. The south bottoms, where the people of color lived, belonged to the lower rung of the ladder. Discrimination as called today just didn't exist. No persons of dark skin were assigned to duty as bank tellers or to very many other well paying jobs, but on the other hand no animosity was shown towards them on the street cars, or even sidewalks for that matter.
Not having any people of the colored race in their neighborhood, they decided one of their neighbors from the state of Missouri would make a good victim. With this in mind, they contrived a wooden cross wrapped in rags and soaked with kerosene and lit it in the back yard of the victim. The neighbor, in his panic, rushed down to the police station to demand protection. He wouldn't divulge why they might be after him for past misdeeds, but both he and the police took the cross burning as an ominous sign. Without any more action on the part of the K.K.K., the episode was soon forgotten. Thus ended their career as members of the K.K.K.
The boys' next caper involved a neighbor living across the street from them. The neighbor was quite obese and owned a German police dog that was reputed to be half Michigan wolf. The man had the name of Teelee, so the boys would knock on his door and shout "Tee Legged, Tylegged, Towlegged Teeley" at him. At this point Mr. Teelee would call his dog to give chase to apprehend his tormentors. The Fahey boys led him on a merry chase, keeping a safe distance from him to elude capture. It was only after they had reached maturity did it come out that Mr. Teelee appreciated the run as much as did the boys. It was a good excuse to give him and his dog exercise that was needed by both of them.
The new residence with the loft above the garage turned out to be a blessing for the boys. Whenever the thermometer hit 70 degrees, they were then allowed to not only go barefoot, but to move into the loft above the garage and sleep there during warm or hot weather. The loft had a small window on the side, out of view of the house, that allowed the boys to hang a rope out to allow them access to freedom. After their folks thought they were safely bedded down, they could shinny down the ropes and do whatever came to mind. This practice bore fruit in the army where they were first to climb the rope ladders on the obstacle courses. Hand over hand they went, without using their legs to get to the goal at the top.
One of the things that came to mind was food. With this in mind, the boys plotted a route whereas they would sneak into a neighborhood where the people had money to spare. By clever planning, they could time their route where they could find money in the milk bottles to pay for the ordered products. The next step was to follow the milkman and get enough milk to satisfy their desire, plus having some milk bottles that were worth five cents each for candy at the neighborhood grocery store -- no questions asked. A full eight ounce Baby Ruth or Snicker candy bar at that time was 5 cents!
The youngest brother, Ted, insists that the Fourth Street caper be included in this story. The nighttime trick could have had serious ramifications, but fortunately no real problem resulted. Fourth Street was the only decently paved route from home to the city proper. A very steep hill had to be surmounted. The hill was so steep that the popular Model T, which was very under-powered, had to back up utilizing the lower gear ratio to make the grade. The boys stuffed an old pair of coveralls with straw and fitted what would appear to be a head at the top. When darkness cloaked their actions, the boys hid in some bushes beside the road. When an auto came up the hill and got even with their position, they tossed the dummy out in front of the car. The panicked driver threw up his arms and went careening down the hill backward. Fortunately there was no other traffic and he did get the auto under control. He didn't get control of his own emotions nearly as soon.
The weather in Sioux City was either extremely hot at 110 degrees in summer or unbearably cold at a minus 20 in the winter. But the late evenings during September and October were unbeatable for enjoying the great out of doors. Television, Power Rangers, or any other inventions that keep the children indoors had not been yet invented, so they found ways to amuse themselves. They made their own bows and arrows and slingshots. In those days the tires all had an inner tube made out of real natural rubber that had as much snap as only surgical tubing has today. One inner tube properly cut could supply the entire neighborhood with ample rubber to arm the wooden crotches they used for the main frame. Old marbles or pebbles were all the ammunition needed.
Being as the boys did not want an audience, they utilized their slingshots to darken the very efficient incandescent light that was on the street corner in front of their house. The benefit was double insofar as the area was then dark, but when the glass was shattered, the tungsten upon being exposed to oxygen burned producing a light not unlike a long duration lightning flash. The normal time it required to get the lamp replaced was about two weeks. Not bad.
Contrary to what this story might indicate, the boys didn't spend all of their time getting into mischief. On one occasion James, the eldest, was hauled into the school principal's office and falsely accused of leading a pack of ruffians around the school grounds. He had a difficult time convincing the principal that the mob was trying to catch him so they could beat the hell out of him. He didn't have to explain why they were after him. That story would not have been believed either.
Almost all of their day time exploits were very wholesome. They roamed the woods between their house and Riverside. These woods had old Indian burial mounds where they could find flint arrowheads and other artifacts which made for lucrative swapping commodities. They also hiked to the confluence of the Big Sioux and Missouri rivers to enjoy "bare ass" beach where no swim suits were needed. To get there they had to hike three miles going past Chief War Eagle's grave, which was only a small stone at the time. It is now a national monument. The Iowa side was several hundred feet above the Nebraska and South Dakota lands, and the view spectacular. Climbing down the cliff was no easy feat, but well worth the effort.
At their swimming area was a huge whirlpool where the Sioux emptied into the Missouri. The boys would round up a log and ride around the outer edge of the whirlpool until they got a signal from their fishing gear. Only the rich had rods and reels, but the boys done all right with a piece of cord tied to a rock and with four or five fish hooks baited with angle worms for bait. The line would be thrown into the river much like a bolo. The end tied to a stake in the riverbank with a Prince Albert pipe tobacco can resting upon the top part of the stick.
When a fish took the bait, the jiggle of the stick would cause the can to rattle, alerting the boys that it was time to eat. A campfire would be built and the catfish skinned out to be barbecued. Potatoes, onions, carrots, and possibly even turnips from the garden were laid out. The potatoes were wrapped with a quarter inch of river bottom mud and tossed into the coals to be baked to perfection. The other vegetables were eaten raw. A very nutritious and wholesome meal. After their lunch, the boys often indulged in an old fashioned mud bath after which they went for a clean up swim before scaling the bluffs to get home. On occasion during these swim sessions, the cry "Submarine, one man on deck" was heard.