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A pillow fight

Rick Ryckeley's picture

For seven magical years, my three brothers, sister and me lived at 110 Flamingo Street. During that time whenever Dad walked in after work, he was always greeted with two things.
The first was a kiss from Mom. (Later he told me it helped to prepare him for what usually came next.) The second was a list of issues that needed his attention right away.
Those issues, more often than not, had to deal with one of us kids. On a good night it would be an issue with only one of us – and on a bad night it was an issue that involved all of us. Such was the night of the great pillow fight.

This time I’m not to blame. What happened was really Dad’s fault.
If asked, Dad wouldn’t admit it. The fact still remains that if he hadn’t sent us to bed early because of the basement boxing match, then Twin Brother Mark and me wouldn’t have ended the night in the hospital, all because of a pillow fight.

The pillow fight actually started as a dirt clod battle that got way out of hand. The dirt clod battle led to the basement boxing match. The boxing match led to the pillow fight. The pillow fight preceded the trip to the hospital. At the hospital, I got 10 stitches in my forehead. Mark got his thumb set in a really cool cast.

Never knew pillow fights could be so dangerous, now did you?
With four brothers and a sister, pillow fights were a nightly occurrence in our house. Basement boxing matches between us brothers only happened in extreme circumstances — like when a supposedly stray dirt clod thrown by Twin Brother Mark hit me in the head.
Dirt clod battles on Flamingo Street were an every week occurrence. Usually a battle would break out between the rich kids that lived over on The Duke of Gloucester and the regular kids that lived on Flamingo Street.

We wouldn’t throw dirt clods at each other, mind you. Only mean folks like Down the Street Bully Brad and his gang would even think about doing such a thing. Nope, kids from the Duke and us, we hurled our clods at little green army men.
Lined up against the cliff base at the old vacant lot next to Neighbor Thomas’s house, the platoon of army men never stood a chance. Friday after school they were bombarded for hours with dirt clods collected from the vacant lot. After all, those were the best dirt clods on all of Flamingo Street.

Led by Preston Weston the III, the kids from The Duke would battle us kids from Flamingo Street to see who could knock down more army men before Mom rang the cowbell for dinner.
Each side used the same number of army men and as many dirt clods from the vacant lot as they wanted.
While setting the army men back up for another pummeling, Mark “accidentally” threw a dirt clod. It hit me in the back of the head. That’s when we headed to the basement to don boxing gloves.

The over-stuffed gloves were Dad’s idea. He thought we couldn’t get hurt with so much padding, and he was right. After punching each other for a while, we got tired and bored. Not a good combination for kids.
That’s when we got the idea to punch The Sister’s collection of Barbie dolls. Didn’t say it was a good idea or made any sense. Just said it was an idea.

After the destruction of most of the Barbie army, The Sister ran upstairs crying, just moments before Dad walked in from work.
Right after dinner he sent Mark and me to our rooms for the rest of the night. Once again bored, we started pillow fighting in the dark.

Mark, after getting “accidentally” knocked off his bed, hit the floor and broke his thumb. Running over to check why he was screaming, I tripped and fell, hitting my head on the corner of the dresser. I still have the scar.
I wonder. To settle their disputes, maybe those folks in Washington acting like kids would get along better if they all just had an old-fashioned pillow fight.

And if that doesn’t work, then they should visit the old vacant lot on Flamingo Street. Last time I checked, there’s still an ample supply of dirt clods and a few green army men.
[Rick Ryckeley, who lives in Senoia, served as a firefighter for more than two decades and has been a weekly columnist since 2001. His email is His books are available at]

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