I was always a curious child, full of questions, taking in information especially from the adult world that I didn’t always comprehend. I did love to be read to and had watched lots of Westerns on TV. One part of the Westerns I was in love with were the horses. That’s a story for another time. But there was something that puzzled me at the precocious age of almost 6. What happened when the bad guys were hung? What did it feel like?
My curiosity almost did to me what it did to the proverbial curious cat. I decided to see what it felt like to be hung. But my understanding of what a hanging entailed was limited, given the sparse information on television about what happened during and after a hanging. Censorship of entertainment was different on such things at that time. Now you see dead bodies hanging from a limb on historical shows, and you know what happens basically.
So for some unknown reason I had a concept of hanging as someone with a rope around their neck. That was as far as I understood. Mother used a clothesline back then to “hang” our clothes out to dry. (Maybe there was a connection between the two kinds of hangings? ).
To be safe for us kids, she had carefully knotted the long end of the clothesline to the swing set at the highest point, far out of my reach (or so she thought) and to the nearby tree. Well, I was tall for my age and could “skin a cat” with the best of them. I also had a talent for untangling things and undoing knots.
Our mother was downstairs in the house sorting clothes and preparing to wash a load of laundry. It was at that time that I, being precocious and focused on understanding this concept of hanging, implemented my plan.
I stood on the A-frame of our swing set and undid her carefully knotted clothesline just enough to tie around my neck and some to hang with. I had planned to step off the A-Frame and when I felt what this hanging felt like, I would reach with my foot to the seesaw swing and get down.
While actually implementing my plan, there was one major, nearly fatal glitch. I didn’t know that clothes line stretched! I couldn’t get my foot to reach the saving swing!! I still remember reaching desperately with my foot to get out of this scary situation.
Thankfully Sister, although young (about 4 years old), saw me and knew I was in trouble! She ran inside and called down to Moma from the top of the stairs. Moma was about to start the washing machine which would have made it impossible for Mother to hear Sister’s call for help. But Sister’s timing was perfect!
Moma came running up the steps. After lifting my weight off of the clothesline she still couldn’t loosen the knot which had tightened while my weight was suspended on it. She sat me down on something and ran to get a knife to cut the clothesline off of me!
I was told that I had tiny bruises all around my eyes called petechiae, from the back pressure built up in my blood vessels to my brain from the clothesline around my throat.
I will never forget what I heard later. We had several pet ducks in the yard. When I came to, mother told me that I had commented that the ducks stopped quacking while I was hanging there. They were looking at me funny. I wonder to this day if there was an angel protecting me from death because it wasn’t my time to die.
Thank you, Sister, for saving my life! Thank you Mother for being so fast on your feet. I am sorry for taking several years off of of your life with that scare! Thank you, Angel and God.
Nevertheless I continued to pursue other safer interests after that! My curiosity did not wane. Instead of first hand experiences at least for a while, I asked questions and looked at books.
If only Google and computers had been around back then!