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Great Marshmallow War of '65

Rick Ryckeley's picture

Great War of ’65

Last week we left the kids from Flamingo Street camped out in Neighbor Thomas’s backyard. With a roaring campfire, they were sugared up on s’mores, bored, and looking for something to do. What they found was an adventure none would ever forget.

With half a bag of jumbo marshmallows left over from our dessert making of s’mores, I thought it would be a good idea to get a marshmallow on the end of my stick and place it directly in the fire, not above it. In a matter of seconds, it went from a fluffy white to tan to a toasty brown, and then to jet-black. When I pulled it out, I had a flaming ball of white lava — which I preceded to flick and hit Older Brother Richard with it right in the chest.

In my defense, had I known that was to be the first volley in the Great Marshmallow War of ’65, I might’ve thought better of it. Soon there were flaming balls of white lava flying all over Neighbor Thomas’s backyard. And most of them were aimed at me.

Trust me, a flaming marshmallow landing on bare skin will indeed leave a permanent scar. Tired of getting pelted, I decided to put a swift end to the war I had started, and retreat wasn’t an option.

I found a stick that spilt into a fork and then forked again. With eight jumbo marshmallows on the end of that stick, I snuck over and again put them directly into the fire. When I pulled that stick out, I then had a flaming marshmallow torch! Quickly, I ran behind a giant pine tree and waited for my opportunity. Didn’t have to wait long.

Jumping out from behind the tree, I took three steps, reared back, took aim, and was about to wipe everyone out in one final volley when, suddenly, I stopped dead in my tracks. I had run face-first into a giant spider web!

Now this was not your ordinary spider web, mind you. This was a giant, super sticky spider web, and it wrapped around my entire head. If that wasn’t bad enough, at that very moment, a multi-legged creature crawled up my face, over my head, and down the back of my shirt!

I did then what would forever be called the Spider Dance. As my knees and elbows jerked up, I dropped that stick. My hands wiped my face trying in vain to rid myself of that super sticky spider web. I ran screaming all the way down to the swamp in our backyard.

Our house sat on top of a hill with a backyard of lush green grass that bellied out and disappeared into the leading edge of a swamp. To the right of the swamp was a pathway that led up to the lake that fed it. On the far side of the lake stood a giant oak tree with a rope swing, and on past the oak tree was the haunted forest that no one ever ventured into.

The summer before the Great Marshmallow War was the start of a five-year drought so the normally full swamp was half empty.

When I got to the edge of the water, I was finally able to rip that super sticky spider web off my face and throw it along with that multi-legged creature onto the ground. I turned around, took three steps, again stopped dead in my tracks, and just pointed.

My three brothers were rolling on the ground laughing at me. Bubba Hanks and Goofy Steve were back-to-back laughing so hard they both almost fell on top of my brothers. Neighbor Thomas was bent over trying to laugh but couldn’t catch his breath.

And Booger? Well, I’m not gonna tell you what he was doing. It really didn’t matter, for you see, I wasn’t pointing at any of them. Nope, I was pointing at what was going on behind them.

Did I mention we were in the second year of a five-year drought?

For the conclusion of this three-part story, and to find out what I was pointing at that brought an unexpected and sudden end to the Great Marshmallow War of ’65, check back here next week.

In the meantime, be safe, especially if you’re roasting jumbo marshmallows in the backyard at night. You could find yourself in the middle of a marshmallow war — one that could change your life forever.

[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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