Orphan Survival Stories
THE BIG OAK TREE
In the center of the orphanage grounds stood a very large and beautiful oak tree. It appeared to be about a 1,000 years old to me. It was very tall and had large limbs that spread out more than 50 feet in every direction.
I loved that tree; it was perfect for climbing. That tree fit me like a glove and my feet always seemed to find just the right spot to climb higher and higher into its tall limbs. I loved to hide in the top of that large oak. There were thousands upon thousands of leaves and no one in the world could find me or hurt me as long as I was way up high in that safe, wonderful tree.
Many times, the matron told me to stay away from the big oak tree. If I wanted to climb any trees, I could climb up the pine trees. I guess the pine trees were okay, because they were about 50 feet high and did not have any low branches. She probably thought I could not climb very high. Besides, when we climbed the pine trees, we got this sap stuff all over our clothes and the sap turned our hands black.
One Sunday, the children were eating out back of the dining room on the picnic tables. It was our normal Sunday meal of one sandwich and a large piece of watermelon. As I did not eat watermelon, because of what had happened to Junior Bass, I decided to sneak around the building and climb up the big oak tree. When I got around by the tree, I saw a squirrel flying through the air like a bird. I could not believe that a squirrel was flying like that. It was amazing. I thought I had discovered something the world had never seen before.
Evidently, a bird and a squirrel had ‘done it’ and made a new kind of bird-squirrel, and I was going to capture it. I chased that bird-squirrel all over the place and threw hundreds of acorns at it. When I would hit it, the bird-squirrel would fly to another spot. Finally, I hit it and it flew to the ground in the center of the circle. I began to chase it, until it got tired and could not move. I walked up to the bird-squirrel and looked at it. It had skin under its feet that pulled out like wings. I was going to be rich, if I could just catch this furry little critter.
As I slowly reached down to pick it up, the darn thing bit me right through the thumbnail and would not let go. I was running all over the place shaking my hand up and down as fast as I could, but the bird-squirrel would not let go of me. I was yelling, crying, not to mention shaking and shaking, but the bird-squirrel would not turn me loose. Finally, I stepped on his tail; he let go and ran up the big oak tree.
I ran into the dining room where Mother Winters was standing. Immediately, I began telling her a strange flying creature had bitten me. I said it had bitten me while I was getting a drink out of the sprinkler and that it attacked me from behind. I just stood there, shaking my hand up and down. Mrs. Winters told me to go and sit down, that she would have Mr. Ball take a look at my hand in a few minutes.
I went over to the other children and told them what I had seen. Of course, they did not believe me and started laughing. Several minutes later, Mr. Ball called me aside and looked at my finger. I told him about the thing I had seen, and he told me that he and I would go back later and capture it.
After dark, Mr. Ball came into the television room with a rope. He told me to go with him, so that we could catch the bird-squirrel. We walked out into the center of the grass circle where the big oak tree was located. He told me to climb up the tree, place the rope over a branch, as we were going to set a trap for the bird-squirrel. He said that if we caught it, we would both be rich. I climbed up the tree and placed the rope over the branch as he instructed.
After I climbed down from the tree, he asked me to come over to him. He told me to hold onto the rope and to pull on it as hard as I could. We needed to be sure the rope would not break when we caught the creature. I pulled and pulled and pulled on the rope, and it did not break. I asked Mr. Ball how a little bird-squirrel could break such a big rope. He told me that he was not worried about the creature's breaking the rope, but that he did not want the thing to chew through the rope, before we could get something to put it in. Then Mr. Ball told me that we were ready to catch the creature, but that there was one more test we had to make.
He made a large loop on the end of the rope and asked me to put it around my neck, which I did. Then Mr. Ball pulled on the rope, until my feet left the ground. I was choking and kicking. I could not breathe. However, he just kept on pulling me higher and higher up into the tree.
Finally, he let me down. I fell to the ground and tried to catch my breath. Then he asked me why I had been trying to climb the big oak tree while the other children were eating supper. I told him that I was not in the tree when the creature bit me. Then he pulled on the rope again, until I spun around in a circle on my tiptoes. I could not breathe, but he just kept yelling at me to admit that I had climbed up the big oak tree.
After I admitted that I was in the tree, he let me down and told me to go up to my room and go to bed. He said he was going to stay out there and catch the creature. Then he was going to bring it to my room and put it into bed with me, so it would bite me again. I stayed up all night waiting for that ugly, evil creature. Not the squirrel but Mr. Ball.