Dicky and I were inseparable companions, running as Hawkeye and Swampfox on wooded paths in our neighborhood and also on remote paths in the Adirondacks where Dicky’s grandfather P.G. lived. We dug forts, caught snakes, flew kites, skated and skied. We fished, sailed, climbed trees and played catch. We dressed as bank robbers and hobos for Halloween and delivered newspapers on our bikes.
Once, while wandering in woods far from home, we found an abandoned trolley car gutted by fire. Thick black soot covered a small table and two over-turned chairs. Scarred kitchen utensils littered the floor next to a book with pages singed like a pirate’s map. Small saplings had begun to grow in the chaos. Our discovery seemed both exotic and slightly dangerous, heightened by the fact that to get there, we had to pass the Audie’s house – the house of known eccentrics. Set back from the road on a small rise, the dark overgrown house looked like it belonged to a witch. It was stucco with Tudor styling on doors and windows. Even more menacing was the fact that the Audie family was rarely seen. That night, while making our way back to our new “fort”, we spied on them from a perch in the woods. Though we couldn’t see clearly, what we could see looked like junk piled from floor to ceiling everywhere and the movement of shadowy figures. After seeing this, our abandoned trolley car “fort” was soon forgotten.