Back when I was a kid growing up in the small town of Blanket, my buddies and I knew practically nothing about girls. We did wonder a lot and one thing we wondered about was what they looked like without clothes. I was aware that such thoughts would have been prohibited by our mamas but we still thought about it.

About as close as we ever got to solving the mystery was the time we spent checking out the ladies underwear section of the Sears and Ward’s catalogues. However, we learned practically nothing there except the current prices and we had no interest in that.

You must understand that back in the 30s morals were very strict. All the girls we knew were pure as the driven snow and none, as far as we knew, ever drifted. The mystery went unsolved.

The boys all spent the summer swimming in Blanket Creek as “nekked as jay birds” we called it. This was acceptable for boys but not for girls. If they ever went swimming, we didn’t know about it and we kept a close watch on them.

Finally, one of the good old boys in our group figured out a way to solve the mystery once and for all during basketball season. The girl’s dressing room and shower occupied the right front portion of the gymnasium at the high school and a lot of the fans parked their cars against the gym while attending the games.

The “good old boy” discovered that by standing on a car bumper, the proper height could be reached after cutting a hole in the wall to get a front row seat, so to speak. A number of holes were quickly whittled through the wall. At night, the bumper standees were not noticeable in the dark.

Back during the ’30s, cars had some real bumpers. They were designed to take a good hit on whatever the driver drove into with no damage to the car. Plastic was yet to be invented. The bumpers were well constructed of steel with adequate standing room for at least three boys to the car.

On basketball nights there were a number of boys standing on the bumpers, each with their own peep hole. For reasons I don’t know, one boy in the group told one of the girls about it and the show was about to be over.

The girl was not happy about the situation and carried a kitchen knife to the dressing room one night and stuck one of the boys in the eye with it causing a loss of his eyesight. I really don’t think she meant to harm the boy but it happened.

I sometimes think about what happened and I guess I was as mixed up in it as the others but being only 10 or 12 years old at the time, I was about 6 inches too short to look through a peep hole and get a knife stuck in my eye.

However, about 10 years later I was just the right height to be assigned as a gunner in a ball turret under the belly of a B-17 bomber and drop bombs on the Germans while they were doing their best to shoot it down. In the Army Air Corps, we had a name for it. We called it “The Fickle Finger of Fate.”

There was absolutely no way to escape it either then, or now.

Harry Marlin’s column is featured every Tuesday on the Brownwood Bulletin’s Viewpoint page. E-mail him at