In July 1973, little Danny Koster of Allentown, PA hopped onto a Pogo stick and didn’t stop hopping until he hopped a record-setting 17,323 times.

It was Saturday morning. I woke early to catch the latest installment of Monster Movie Matinee. Still in my pajamas, I approached the staircase at the end of the hall. Thirteen steps lay between me, Dr. E. Nick Witty and his one-eyed assistant Epal. I grabbed the bannister with both hands and began to lean forward, sliding my hands as far forward as I could, while maintaining my footing on the second floor landing. When I could lean forward no more, I jumped and landed safely with a thud at the bottom of the stairs! “Thirteen steps!” A record I surmised!

My younger sister appeared from the living room. I took the opportunity to lay my claim. “I jumped thirteen steps…it can’t be broken…it’s all the steps…it can only be tied…but I did it first….” I expected a response, but did not get one. My sister continued past me with a look of apathy, which made me uncomfortable. Jealousy I surmised! “At least I won’t have to fight for the TV.”

I turned on the TV in time to hear Dr. Witty remark, “Ahhh Dear Guest, welcome to Monster Mansion…” The long, sharp black fingernails of Dr. Witty’s ringed-hand came into focus. Maybe today would be the day the good doctor would find a cure for Epal’s lycanthropic condition. I glanced down at the coffee table. The July 1973 edition of Boy’s Life Magazine lay open to page 34. The feature story on The Guinness Book of World Records included a snippet on the exploits of a thirteen-year old boy who hopped himself into the record books. “Thats Crazy!” I thought as I sat back into my seat to await the beginning of this week’s tale of terror. “Thirteen steps…heh heh!”

My sister had continued down the hall and into the den to exit the house through the back door. The door exited into the garage. She pressed the garage door opener and watched as streams of early morning light pursued the door along its upward path. The pogo stick was leaning against the ladder that hung on the sidewall; she picked it up and walked to the center of the garage. A gift from the previous Christmas, the stick was her favorite possession and in the ensuing months she had quietly mastered her hopping technique. In the silence of the morning, within the confines of the garage, she started to hop. One, two, three…

Inside the house, Saturday morning life bustled. “No baseball today” my dad asked? No answer from me as I continued to stare at the TV console. On the screen the gill-man had escaped the aquarium and was fleeing to the ocean. My dad continued unconcerned into the dining room. My brother, who had joined me in watching “Revenge of the Creature,” was apprehensive. “Was that Joe he killed? Where’s the professor?”  I continued my silence. It was a defensive measure.  “They should have made that tank stronger…do you think he’s after Helen now…Where’s Helen…the creature looks fake…”

…one hundred one, one hundred two, one hundred three…

“I’ll need more craft glue” my mom indicated to my dad. The implements of my mom’s latest craft undertaking were spread out across the dining room table…styrofoam, barn board, scissors, wire, and lots of dried flowers, reeds and other various flora. “It looks good,” my dad responded. “We’ll need to make another trip to find some cattails,” she added. “Really…it looks good now…I thought it was done!” My mom looked at my dad without comment. “Why don’t we go to Switz’ later for the glue and pick up a Mondo’s pizza for lunch on the way home.” “I’ll send the kids over to the field later, maybe there are some cattails by the pond.”

My dad leaned back and peered into the living room. “Did you hear that,” he asked?” My brother responded with a question, “Do you think the professor will find Helen in time?” “Where’s your younger sister,” my dad responded?

…one thousand twenty three, one thousand twenty four, one thousand twenty five…

Gunfire broke out in the living room. The professor and the police were riddling the gill-man with bullets. Helen rushed into the professor’s arms and “The End” appeared on the screen as the creature moved backwards into the waters of the Black Lagoon. My brother’s line of questioning was interrupted by the sound of my older sister bounding down the stairs; one at a time I noticed! She was dressed in her girl scout uniform. “Mom!” It’s time to go,” she screamed! In the dining room, my mom put down the dried lotus seed pod. “Oh…the meeting…I forgot,” she mumbled to herself.

…five thousand two hundred fifty six…

“Change of plans,” my mom told my dad. “We’ll go to the girl scout meeting together…your daughter is receiving her badge for camping. After the meeting, we’ll go to Switz’, then pick up the pizza.” “Sounds like a plan,” my dad responded. “I can pick up a couple of pinewood derby car kits for the boys,” he added. In the living room, I was now watching “Jonny Quest” thinking that Jonny looked more like his bodyguard, Race Bannon, than his father, Dr. Benton Quest. “Where’s Jade,” my brother asked?

My mom, dad and older sister left the house through the front door; the station wagon was parked in the driveway. The car doors opened and my mom and older sister got into the car without comment. As my dad entered the car, he looked up and saw my younger sister hopping up and down in the garage. “Don’t go anywhere,” he called out. “We’re bringing a pizza home.” He continued into the car, started it up and backed out of the driveway and in a moment they were on their way.

…nine thousand six hundred and ninety five…

My brother lay asleep on the couch. I had set up my hot wheels track to start from the dining room, into the living room, over my sleeping brother, and downward to the hallway. H.R. Pufnstuf was on the TV…my younger sister’s favorite TV show. For a moment I wondered where she was as I quickly turned the knob.  Static blared between stations before talking chimpanzees appeared on the screen. “Lancelot Link, Secret Chimp,” I laughed. Cars whizzed over my brother’s head as Lancelot worked to overcome the latest evil plan from C.H.U.M.P.

…eleven thousand four hundred eighty seven…

My brother lay asleep on the couch. I was asleep on the floor. The dreaded Sleestak were after Rick, Will and Holly in the Land of the Lost. Outside, the station wagon pulled back into the driveway. Three doors opened and my mom, dad and older sister exited the vehicle. My dad carried a pizza; my mom a Switz’ bag. My sister beamed at her new badge, which my mom had sewn onto her sash during the drive home using a sewing kit she kept in the car’s glove compartment. Shadows had entered the garage and obscured my younger sister from view. My mom, dad and older sister entered through the front door.

…fourteen thousand twenty six…

I awoke to my older sister bounding up the stairs; one at a time I noticed! “The dinosaurs look fake…do you think the dinosaurs look fake,” my brother asked? My dad put the pizza on the kitchen table. My mom took the craft glue out of the bag and put it on the dining room table; she handed the pinewood derby kits to my dad, who turned to take them down to the cellar. “I’ll put the pizza under the oven warmer for a few minutes.” Food always needed to be reheated in my mom’s world!

…Fifteen thousand, six hundred and nineteen…

Twenty minutes later, the five of us were sitting at the kitchen table. “Can I go set up a TV tray table and eat in the living room,” I asked? “I want to watch the Yankee game.” My father and brother joined me in asking for my mom’s permission. “Go ahead,” she said as she looked at my older sister and the empty seat next to her.

…seventeen thousand three hundred and twenty four…

“Where’s your sister?” My older sister shrugged. “Last time I saw her, she was hopping on her pogo stick in the garage, but that was hours ago,” my father offered. The back door opened and my younger sister entered into the den. “Where have you been all day,” my mother asked? My younger sister shrugged. “Well go wash your hands and get some pizza.”

We all sat at our TV trays in the living room eyeing our pizza. We had to wait a bit, as it was too hot. The Yankees were playing the Red Sox. 0-0 was the score early in the third inning. “Do you think the Yankees will win,” my brother asked? No answer from anyone as we continued to stare at the TV console. I looked over at my younger sister, who was eyeing me with a slight smirk, which made me uncomfortable again. Still jealous about the thirteen steps I surmised!

3 thoughts on “The Stick!

  1. Oh Steve, I don’t think I have ever laughed so hard. !! I hope that this helps others to recall the many inter- workings of their family on any given day, but for me and probably the rest of our family, there were so many inside jokes to that blog that I’m glad I was sitting down when I read it or I would have been on the floor by the time I finished. Again , thanks for the memories .<3

    Liked by 1 person

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