Pt. 3

        ROCKY'S ROAD            



During my grade school and high school years I lived on Mississippi Ave. (what a name!) It was Ray and Lucille Rockstad with two sons, Jim and 2 years old than me, Dick. First it was Kenton Grade School and then off to Jefferson High School was my schooling effort in those days.

Kenton Grade School is where I met up with John Hays. It was several blocks from our house away to go to school so we would just walk there every day.

While going to Kenton I was hanging around with John Hays. Hays lived on Albina also, just a couple blocks below Lombard Street. He was just a short jaunt for me to head to Hays house as that seemed to be where the action was.

I guess I just liked a lot of action. Maybe that is the racing part of me showing up early.

Back in these early days Hays and I always seemed to come up with some wild idea to have fun. The electric buses ran right in front of Hays' house. If you take some long stripped wire and throw it over the electric wires it shorts out making huge flashes due to the shorting out that was taking place. Of course, once you threw the long wire with some weight on one end you'd have to run as fast as you could because the flash caused a lot of noise bringing out neighbors to see what was happening. We always stayed away from throwing wires if the buses were around as we knew that big trouble would take place. We just wanted to see the flashing in the dark as it looked like fireworks. It was just more craziness by a couple of screwball kids.

Farragut Park was about 3 or 4 blocks from Hays’ house so we would venture down there all the time. The railroad tracks were alongside of the park so that was a perfect place to find some craziness to do.

We found a huge, wooden tool box there pried it open and there were many flares in the box. We loaded up a stash of them and then hid them in Hays’ house, down the basement.

Later, we uncovered the flares, cut them open to get the material from the inside. Hays’ next brilliant idea was to fill an open top-canning jar and then ignite it. Once the powder was poured into the glass jar he was all set for the next move. He ignited one of the other flares and stuffed it into the jar so it would light the powder, which it did. The whole thing got wild and really got fired up. (Gee, no kidding!)

The smell of that sulfur was absolutely unbearable to breathe, in addition to burning our eyes. He tried to carry the hot and smoking jar up the back stairs leading to the back door outside in an attempt to get rid of the melting jar. Well, it got so hot, so fast, that as we went upstairs the glass jar literally melted and the bottom of it fell out on the linoleum floor. Stink….it was terrible and also it started burning items that were on the floor like shoes, boots, etc. That nasty smoke worked its’ way into the back door of the house there and then the biggest eruption yet took place, that just happened to be his dad. Ugh!

Needless to say Hays’ dad was hotter than the jar……it wasn’t a pretty site, at that point. John Hays was always getting into something which agitated his father.

When Hays came to my parents’ house one time, my dad appropriately named him “Crazy Hays” which fit him perfectly. 

Another crazy thing by Hays was he took an old bicycle with those swoopy-type handle bars. He turned the handle bars up in the air like chrome stacks. After that he filled those handle bars with gasoline. He lit the gasoline, and I guess, he thought it would shoot up in the air like a rocket flame. Well, as he started to ride the flaming monster the bars swung down pointing towards the ground causing all the flaming gas to dump all over the place….fortunately, he didn’t get burned too bad but boy was that flaming bicycle wild to see.

Here it is another day, another crazy activity. Hays learned how to make bombs out of nuts and bolts.

You cut off match heads and pile them into a bolt screwed half way into the nut. Another bolt was then screwed into the other side of the nut. You then tighten the bolt that is squeezing the match material tight against the other bolt……….be careful because they do blow up, and did, fortunately without injuries. It was always a bit scary in the debts of the Hays house. If you threw them, when they land on either bolt end a small explosion takes place. We moved up to a larger nut and bolts and, low and behold, the explosion was much larger. It was “bombs away” quite often at the Hays house basement.

It all was just another “crazy” idea from Hays. He was certainly creative, that’s for sure.

My father did just about everything to keep me from hanging around with Crazy Hays. He always felt that Hays was not the best thing for me to be around. As you read this story about Hays you will certainly see why my father was so concerned.

Hays had a slick bright red ’55 Ford convertible. We used to cruise the streets as cool guys do. I helped him work on that car all the time. I didn’t have any money to get my own car, at the time, so cruising with Hays was the best thing I could do to be around the car scene…..filling my ongoing desire.

I haven’t seen John Hays since the Jefferson High School Days. When I turned 40 I had a birthday party at my brother’s house in Battleground. Several couples drove from Seattle to celebrate with Mo and I. The 40’s are a major jump, as I recall. John Hays was going to be there and I was excited to talk with him and, of course, laugh a lot. We were there all afternoon enjoying the happenings but Hays never arrived.

About an hour after we left John Hays arrived there and spent most of the evening with my brother.

The only thing I ever heard about Hays was he was working at an antique store in Aurora. Just maybe

I can bring him out of hiding with this story. I certainly hope things are well for him. 


Coming Soon:  Rocky’s Road Page 4.  What would it be like if you did NOT have a warm dinner for Thanksgiving?