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Individual authors
retain the copyrights to
their works, which are
published here with

The setting of each story is
noted below its title. In
cases where the exact year
is not known, “c.” (circa)
indicates that the year given
is approximate.


Stories on this page:

1. The Santa Hunt
(c. 1952)
Bergin Downs
Missouri, USA

2. The Swimming Hole
(c. 1954)
Noah L. Brickey
Missouri, USA

3. The Bear That Read
the Comics (1954)
Travis Black
Missouri, USA

4. The Aftermath of
Rheumatic Fever (1956)
Ellie McCrary
Missouri, USA

5. Sweet Home Alabama
(c. 1960s)
Kaytlyn Sneed
Missouri, USA

6. The Annoying Parrot
(c. 1960s)
Lane T. Brown
Nebraska, USA

7. A Big-League Dreamer
(c. 1960s–2008)
Rogan Pransky
Ohio, USA

8. Fishing (1962)
Adi Elinoff
Colorado, USA

9. The Key Lime Pie
(c. 1964)
Jonah R. Defez
Colorado, USA

10. The Termite Storm
Hannah Marvin
Missouri, USA

11. Super Dog
(c. 1968)
Michael Schumacher
Nebraska, USA

12. Bronto on the Beach
(c. 1968)
Elisabeth G. Knutson
Wisconsin, USA

13. Uncle Bob to the Rescue
MaKenna Rother
Nebraska, USA

14. Real Storms
(c. 1971)
Alex Souris
Texas, USA


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Grannie Annie, Vol. 6, and Grannie Annie, Vol. 6 Expanded
Stories Dated 1952 – 1971

The Santa Hunt

East Jordan, Michigan, USA; c. 1952

When I was about four years old, I started in on the old family tradition of trying to catch Santa. My family had been trying to trap Santa for almost sixty years, and I would be the fourteenth child to join the hunt.

My uncle John remembers when it all started. It was on Christmas Eve in 1952 in East Jordan, Michigan. Everyone was in the living room hanging stockings with the expectation that Santa would come sometime during the night and fill them with presents. That’s when my granny and grandpa told the kids about a new thing that they would do — they would try to trap Santa.

They all gathered around to see the trap. It was red and green, and when it was open, it formed a circle with teeth on the sides. It snapped shut when something hit the center. Everyone worked to set it up by the tree so that when Santa set out the presents he might accidentally step into it and set off the trap — and they would catch him.

John was about six years old at the time. He was excited by the idea and very, very eager to set the trap. He truly believed in Santa Claus and thought they might actually catch him. His older sister, Penny, might have had her doubts, but his younger brother and sister were excited, too.

Everything was done. They had put out cookies and milk, the tree was finished, and of course the trap was ready. The night passed with dreams of the presents they would receive and of Santa in the trap. They all got up super early and waited for my granny to wake up my grandpa so that he could get up and go downstairs to make sure it was safe. All of the kids lined up on the steps, oldest to youngest, waiting eagerly for the “okay.”

When Grandpa waved them down, they raced to the trap first. There, caught in the teeth, was a piece of red fabric from Santa’s pant leg. John was surprised and would be surprised again every time — when they caught a piece of white fur trim from Santa’s suit, a piece of boot, or even a bit of his beard. It always added a bit more magic to Christmas. No one knew it then, but that magic would continue for sixty years more.

Now, John’s grandchildren look forward every year to catching Santa, although no one has been successful yet. Older children pass the hunt on to younger ones.

John guesses that Granny and Grandpa bought the trap, but he has never seen another like it — no one in my family has. So we all keep it very safe. It is an important family relic.

Bergin Downs; Missouri, USA


The Swimming Hole

Stuttgart, Arkansas, USA; c. 1954

My granddad Trinnes Brickey was born in 1943 in Stuttgart, Arkansas. His family was poor, with ten brothers and sisters. Sometimes there wasn’t much to go around, but they always got by. I love to listen to my granddad’s stories.

One story that makes me laugh happened during the summer of 1954. The kids in Granddad’s neighborhood would go to the local swimming hole. They would tie a long rope to a big old oak tree. Then they would swing out over the water and drop in with a big splash.

One day the kids decided to have a contest to see who could perform the most creative dive. Each kid had to name and perform the dive. The first kid to go was Willy. He called his dive “the go out farther and higher than anyone else dive.” The next kid was Stanley. His dive was called “the high-flying Superman dive.” Then it was Granddad’s turn, and he did “the complete flip dive.”

Raymond was the last one to dive. He had been bragging to all of the others that he was going to do the best dive of them all. Raymond was very skinny, so he had to use a string to hold up his pants. He named his dive “the complete 360 turn and come down headfirst Geronimo dive.” Raymond yelled loudly the name “Geronimo!” as he launched his most incredible dive. It was the best dive by far. He nearly made a complete spin while coming down headfirst. All the boys went crazy with cheers, until they noticed his pants floating on top of the water.

The boys decided to play a joke on Raymond, since he had won the contest. Stanley grabbed his pants and Granddad took his shirt and towel, leaving Raymond only the string from his shorts. The boys all ran for home. Raymond was known as “The Streak” from that day on.

Clearly, my granddad had a wonderful childhood, and I’m glad he shares his stories with me.

Noah L. Brickey; Missouri, USA


The Bear That Read the Comics

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, USA; 1954

My great-grandpa and great-grandma often went to the Smoky Mountains to go camping with their five kids, all around seven to thirteen years old. There often were wild bears there — it was not unusual to see a bear with gaggles of little children behind it. The bears might turn and growl at the little children.

One time my grandma was in the front seat of a car reading the Sunday funnies she had taken with her. She was quite engrossed in the comic she was reading, so she did not take to mind the hot breath that she heard and felt on the back of her neck. She thought it was her sister reading the comics over her shoulder.

When my grandma finished reading her comic, she looked up and saw her father, pale as a sheet, mouthing the words “Do not move.” She followed directions, because she did not know what was happening. So did the rest of the camp. They were all so quiet that you could hear the soft green pine needles hit the ground. Since the huge five-foot bear sensed that the camp was not moving, it knew that there would be no fun at that place. It got out of the back door of the car and rambled away as the entire camp let out a sigh of relief.

My grandma, on the other hand, was rather scared, because she had no idea what was happening until the bear ran away — and she was rather shocked to see that her sister had turned into a bear. Then she realized what had just happened. She now looks back and laughs about the case of the bear that read her comics.

Travis Black; Missouri, USA


The Aftermath of Rheumatic Fever

Warrenton, Missouri, USA; 1956

“Ed, the pond froze. I need you to go chop up the ice so the cows can drink,” called his father, Harry.

“Fine,” Ed replied dully. He weakly grabbed the ax, went to the pond, and broke up ice for an hour. When he finished, he was coughing and freezing. He felt sick. His sore throat seemed more painful than a normal cold.

“Dad, I don’t feel well,” Ed croaked.

“I know you’re faking it,” Harry angrily accused. “You’re always trying to get out of school.” His father didn’t know, nor could he have known, that Ed had strep throat. And neither of them realized that this was the beginning of an illness that would never truly end.

Six months later as Ed lay in bed, wishing he was at school, he heard footsteps approach. His mom was bringing his daily soup, prune juice, and penicillin. His strep throat had morphed into rheumatic fever, a terrible sickness that makes you weak with fever. It also causes severe heart problems.

As she walked in, Ed asked for the fifth time that day, “Mom, how are my brothers and sisters doing?”

“Oh, Ed! The same as this morning!” said his mom, exasperated but with sympathy in her eyes.

Ed swallowed his penicillin and asked, “Do my brothers believe me yet that I’m sick?” Before she could answer, Ed gagged on the medicine’s taste and began spooning his soup. His mom seemed to forget his question and left to continue her work. Drowsy from the warm soup, Ed decided to take a nap. The clock read 1:00 p.m.

Soon he saw a beautiful white light; it felt comfortable and peaceful, desirable and pleasing. Ed did not even feel sick. This was the best feeling ten-year-old Ed had had in months. He noticed that his dead grandfather was speaking to him.

“Ed, you can stay or go. It is your choice,” he calmly said. Ed was tempted to stay—it was so nice and peaceful, and worry-free. Then with a sudden jolt he knew he had to go back. He awoke and stared at his clock: 1:01 p.m. He had only been asleep for a few heartbeats.

That was fifty-five years ago, and my grandpa Ed still suffers the consequences of rheumatic fever due to his damaged heart valves. He also still remembers the dream like it was yesterday and tells me the story ever so often.

I am now ten, the same age my grandpa was when infected by strep throat. Just the other day my best friend’s little brother was diagnosed with strep throat. When I think about Grandpa Ed’s lingering heart problems, I’m glad changes in medical attention mean few children today will have to share this experience.

Although the aftermath of rheumatic fever will never leave him, Grandpa Ed is still living a long happy life with my grandma. They have two children and six grandchildren.

Ellie McCrary; Missouri, USA


Sweet Home Alabama

Demopolis and York, Alabama, USA; c. 1960s

RING! We rushed out of the school doors to our parents waiting in the car. School was finally over, and we were going down south.

“Hey, Mama. Hi, Daddy,” Denise, Jerome, Kevin, and I said in unison. Our grandma Niecy P. lived in Demopolis, Alabama, while our grandma Mary Ellen lived in York, Alabama.

As we cruised down the highway, my excitement grew larger. “I can’t wait to see Trey and Anthony!”

“Shut up, Yvette,” yelled my sister, Denise.

“Yes, girl, hush,” my mother added. Little did I know that my excitement would die before we even got to Alabama.

We stopped at a rest stop in Tennessee. As we stepped out of our green LTD, everyone’s eyes turned toward us.

“Why are they staring at us?” asked my little brother, Kevin.

“Well, Kevin, because down here some people don’t like us,” my daddy answered.

“We ain’t even from down south. I don’t know about you, but I believe our license plate says ‘Missouri,’” snapped Kevin.

“They don’t like us ’cuz we black. Come on, Kevin, keep up. Don’t act like you don’t hear the news about down here every day,” Jerome yelled. Three white families turned around and stared. We looked right back at them. They stared at us with a fire in their eyes. It was like they were trying to burn a hole into our skin.

“Now you quiet down with all of that, Junior. Yvette and Denise, turn around this way before I slap the press out of your head.”

“Yes, ma’am,” we said as Mama passed out chicken and cornbread. When we were finished eating, we left.

There were only a few miles until we got to Demopolis. I tried to stay awake, but I couldn’t. I slowly drifted to sleep. Kevin and I woke up just in time to see the WELCOME TO ALABAMA sign.

“We’re here! Denise, Jerome, we’re here!” I yelled.

“Okay, we get the point. Denise, stop dropping yo’ slob on me,” Jerome said.

The only way to tell you were in Demopolis was when you saw the dirt roads. Once we saw the red clay road, we got happy. We pulled up to Grandma Niecy’s house, and we all jumped out. Our grandmother was waiting on the old porch swing for us.

“Granny!” we yelled as we ran over.

“Hi, babies.”

“Hey, Mama,” my daddy said.

“How you doing, Cleophus? America?”

We spent a whole week in Demopolis. During the day Denise, my mama, and I stayed near Grandma, while Jerome and Kevin played with the little boys down the street. As for Daddy, he slept the whole week. On our last night Denise and I got some old Mason jars and went to catch fireflies. Kevin and Jerome attempted to throw a ball around in the dark with my daddy.

We did the same thing in York, but my mama was called “Tot.” As I look back on our trip that year, I would have to say that it was the best one yet.

Kaytlyn Sneed, daughter of Yvette; Missouri, USA


The Annoying Parrot

Weatherford, Texas, USA; c. 1960s

This story happened in Texas. One annoying parrot, my father, and my father’s boss — that was a bad combination, one that would lead only to trouble.

When my dad was sixteen, he worked in Texas. He was a very good, very hard-working ranch hand. He herded the cattle, broke the wild horses, and cleaned the stalls.

There was one chore, though, that he hated. His boss bought and raised parrots. There were many different types of parrots. There were green parrots. There were blue parrots. There were also the common red ones.

There was one parrot that was the boss’s favorite, and that parrot lived in the boss’s house. When the phone rang, the parrot would answer, “Hello!” When someone knocked on the door, the parrot would say, “Come in!”

That parrot always tricked my father. When Dad called on the phone to talk to his boss, he would hear “Hello!” Then the parrot would say either “Nobody home!” or “Just a minute!” When Dad went over to the house and knocked on the door, the parrot would say, “Come in!” There were many times when Dad’s boss would be sleeping or in the shower or not even home when my dad walked in because of the parrot’s invitation to come in! Most of the time, the boss didn’t even know that Dad had knocked on the door before going in. Dad almost lost his job because of that parrot! That parrot enjoyed getting people in trouble. From my father to the buyer coming to pick up cattle—the parrot tricked them all!

There were many times when the parrot would turn on the television and startle everyone in the house. The parrot especially liked old western movies. The parrot acted like he was a cowboy on television. He would ask people, “Where’s my horse?” There were many times when a person walked in and the parrot squawked, “Put your hands up, or I’ll blow you away!”

Whenever the parrot escaped from his cage, he enjoyed dive-bombing people, calling out, “Where’s my whiskey?” Sometimes he would actually hit people and then call, “Get out of my way!”

The parrot could not only talk, he would also do a very good evil laugh. Whenever someone walked around the house at night, the parrot cackled an evil laugh as they passed his cage. It could be very unnerving!

It seemed, to Dad at least, that the parrot especially liked to play tricks on him. There were times when the boss was gone and my dad had to take care of the parrots. Every time, this clever parrot played tricks on Dad. The tricks would range from making a fake phone call to the house, to letting someone in when Dad was out taking care of the other parrots.

This story of the clever, annoying parrot is a family favorite that always makes all of us laugh. All of us except my dad, that is!

Lane T. Brown; Nebraska, USA


A Big-League Dreamer

Eldred, Pennsylvania, USA; c. 1960s–2008

My great-uncle Jim grew up in the small town of Eldred, Pennsylvania, in a house with about an acre or more of land in a hilly area of the Allegheny Mountains. It was the mid-1960s, and there were few modern ways to entertain yourself. There were no computers, no game systems, and no cell phones.

Because he didn’t have any neighbors to play with and his older brother was in college, ten-year-old Jim would entertain himself with his love of baseball. He liked to toss the ball off the slope of the roof and catch it on the other side. He would also throw to a “pitchback” that would bounce the ball back to you as you threw it. He even played a game called dice baseball, where you simulate a game of baseball by rolling dice and scoring a game.

When his dad would come home from a hard day working on the highways, Jim would beg him to hit a few pop flies out in the yard. Jim would run and dive for each catch. One time the ball went into some weeds, and he got poison ivy. When it would get dark and Jim’s dad would say it was time to go in, Jim would always say, “Just five more, Dad.” Five would turn out to be ten or fifteen or twenty more — until it was too dark to see the baseball anymore.

Jim went on to be a very good Little League, and eventually high school, baseball player. People who watched Jim play knew that he had great potential. Watching one of Jim’s games, his grandfather said to another man, “That boy’s gonna be in the major leagues someday.” Unfortunately, a broken leg Jim’s junior year of high school prevented him from following this dream of being a big-leaguer.

But that did not stop Jim’s love of baseball. He went on to become a college baseball coach and eventually a professional baseball scout for the Tampa Bay Rays. In 2008 the Rays earned a World Series ring for winning the American League Championship. Jim gave this very expensive and rare ring to his mother and father to thank them for all that they had done to inspire him. Included with the ring was this note:

Mom and Dad,

Thank you for letting a little boy chase a
baseball around and giving him every
opportunity to make a career out of something
he loves.

This ring for me more than represents an
American League Championship. It
symbolizes all the balls Dad hit to me in
the backyard, the games we used to listen
to on our radio and the baseball trips we
used to take together.

This ring belongs much more to you than it
does to me.

Your son,

Since the sad death of Jim’s dad, his mother still holds the ring with pride and honor.

Rogan Pransky; Ohio, USA



Lake White Cloud, Michigan, USA; 1962

Once when my mom was a kid, she was taken with her brothers on a fishing trip to Lake White Cloud, Michigan. When my grandpa and my uncles were setting up the lines, getting bait, choosing who would get what rod, what line they would use — all the things you need to do in order to fish — my grandma and my mom were going around the shore picking flowers. Then my grandpa yelled, “Hey, Marjorie, it is time to fish!”

My mom replied, “Coming, Dad.” And then the fishing began.

My uncles, my mom, my grandpa, and my napping grandma had been sitting there for a while when my uncle just spontaneously shouted out, “Hey, Dad, I think something is happening with rod #3.”

“Good eye, Dave; I think that is your line getting a tug.” And so it turned out that my uncle Dave got the first fish — and it was a beautiful trout. My grandpa was very proud. He was thinking to himself, “That is my firstborn son.”

All that changed, though, when my other uncle got his first tug on line #2, but he had a harder time pulling in his catch, because he was not as strong as his older brother. But eventually Dan got his catch in. It was even more amazing than Dave’s fish, because Dan caught a gigantic walleye. Then my grandpa changed his mind and thought, “That is my favorite son.”

The fishing continued, but line #1 never got a tug. My mom especially waited and waited, but nothing happened. The rod just sat there sleeping. When my grandpa started to take the line out, he handed it to my mom saying, “Here. This is for you.”

My mom hesitated for a second, and as she was reaching for the rod, a humongous blur pounced out of the water. Everybody stood in shock and awe as they stared at what looked like a rainbow. It was actually a stunning rainbow trout waiting in cold, dark silence on the hook. Everybody broke out in “Oooooooooooh” and “Ahhhhhhhh” — except my mom. She was like the fish, sitting in silence. This time my grandpa didn’t just think it but shouted out, laughing, “That is my favorite daughter! Who would have thought this girl right here could fish?”

It was great hearing this story because of the comedy and the lesson that you never give up. If my mom had not hesitated, the fish would have missed the hook and swum away.

Adi Elinoff; Colorado, USA


The Key Lime Pie

Gainesville, Florida, USA; c. 1964

My mom tells me this story, time and time again, about the key lime pie.

Once upon a time there was a family of four. In our story we only meet three. Their names were Marc, Karen, and their mother, Richelle (my grandmother).

One day Richelle decided to make a pie — not any pie, but a key lime pie. Richelle worked very, very hard on this pie, putting on whipped-cream puffs and key lime slices, and trying to make it perfect.

She tasted some of the pie right as it finished, and then found out that she had forgotten the sugar! The pie was so sour that you could not eat one bite without exploding. It was sour beyond belief! But since she had worked very hard on it, and because it was so beautiful, Richelle couldn’t bear to throw it away. She kept it, hoping she would find a good way to use it without throwing it out.

Every morning Marc would find some leftovers from dinner and take them into Karen’s crib, and he and Karen would eat them for breakfast. Sometimes it was spaghetti, sometimes it was meatloaf — whatever they’d had for dinner, the leftovers became breakfast.

The morning after Richelle made the sour pie, Marc found it and decided, “Hey — pie! That’s good; we’ll have this for breakfast!” (not knowing that Richelle had forgotten the sugar). He took the pie and went into Karen’s crib with a couple of spoons.

Later Richelle went to Karen’s crib, expecting pasta or something. Instead, she found an empty pie tin, two full toddlers, and a couple of crumbs. She was so surprised that Marc and Karen had eaten the entire sugarless pie all by themselves! Richelle was astounded that her two toddlers had eaten an entire pie that was too sour for even a grown-up to bear.

To this day, it is a mystery how two toddlers ate the sour key lime pie. This story is a story that my mom always tells guests whenever we are having key lime pie for dessert. This story isn’t very meaningful, but our family always loves to tell it. This story is meaningful to me, because my mom has passed this story on to me, so I will pass this story down to my children.

Jonah R. Defez; Colorado, USA


The Termite Storm

Graie Town, Nimba County, Liberia; 1966–1968

When my aunt Linda was twenty-one years old, she joined the Peace Corps and traveled to Liberia in Africa. She was going to Graie Town in Nimba County to help with education. She taught elementary grades, such as first and fourth. Everyone wanted an education, so the students would walk miles and hours from their homes, carrying their chairs on their heads. The students’ grade levels were determined by how much English they knew, so the first graders ranged in age anywhere from five years old to thirty years old.

In Graie Town, there was no electricity. The people did not have clocks; therefore, they went to bed when the sun went down. There was one road, and the town was no bigger than a city block. There was only one store, and all of the houses were mud and stick structures with either a thatched or a tin roof.

My aunt was in Liberia for two years.

One year, just before the first rain, thousands and thousands of termites would all fly up into the air. A person would be stationed in an open area to watch the termites all night long. If the termites landed, then the person would run through the swirling black hurricane and wake up the entire town.

The next step would be to dig a giant hole and lure the termites in. They did this by taking a stick with fire on one end and putting it in the pit. After the termites were killed by the fire, they would be spread out onto a mat and dried by the sun. Then, after they were dried, they would be tossed into the air. In the air, the wings would blow off and away, and the bodies would fall back down to earth. Then they would be cooked and salted. The people of Graie Town loved these termites. Even my aunt tried them and liked them. These termites were a great source of protein and energy.

My aunt Linda loved her time in Liberia and wanted to go back. But when she arrived in America, a huge civil war broke out in Liberia. She couldn’t go back. She was very concerned about her friends that she had made in Liberia. My aunt was afraid that they might have gotten caught up in the violence.

My aunt stayed in America, but she will never forget about all of her wonderful experiences in Liberia. She hopes that others can understand the importance of sharing and helping others in our world.

Hannah Marvin; Missouri, USA


Super Dog

Wolbach, Nebraska, USA; c. 1968

It was 1968 in the outskirts of Wolbach, Nebraska. My mother’s family consisted of her parents, her brothers (Steven, Kevin, Larry, and Alan), her sister (Connie), and a dog named Sparky. They were in for an exciting day. They just didn’t know it yet.


The family was in the house when everyone was startled by a loud, unusual noise. Sparky, the brown and white farm dog, went completely crazy and began to run around the house. Grandpa said, “What the heck are you doing? Stop running in the house, Sparky!”

The dog knew, however, that something bad was going to happen that day, but he wasn’t sure when. He was, however, going to do something about it!

The six children were in the living room playing games when Sparky came running through and trampled their board game. All the kids yelled, “Sparky! You just ruined our game!” Sparky ran to the window to see if anything was going on, but all was silent. No grasshoppers were chirping; no birds were singing. It seemed like the family was the only one left in the whole world.

Sparky had been thinking about how he was going to save the family from the storm, but first he had to learn what kind of storm it was. He had guessed it was a tornado because of the way the other farm animals were acting. The cows were all huddled in the corner of the pasture with their backs against the fence. That was when it hit Sparky: He knew he needed to lead the family to the storm cellar.

When the storm came, it was fiercer than a raging bull. There was a huge gale of wind. The rain sounded like bullets hitting the house. Sparky knew it was time to save the family. He started to scratch frantically at the door. Grandpa said, “I think he is trying to tell us something!”

The family started to follow the barking, yelping dog. Sparky quickly led them down to the underground storm cellar. All of them rushed into the cellar just in the nick of time. The deadly tornado hit the farm with tremendous force! They could hear it ripping and tearing the whole farm apart. The family was shaking in fear and praying that the house was still up.

Suddenly, it all just stopped. The wind was no longer blowing; the rain was no longer pelting down. The cows were mooing, and the horses were neighing, sounding as though they were relieved to be living.

The family came cautiously out of the underground cellar. Huge trees had been torn up by the roots. The fence was completely wrecked. But the house was still standing. The main relief, though, was that they were still alive, all thanks to Sparky. They all grabbed Sparky, hugging and petting him. Everyone cried, “Good dog! You saved us!”

Sparky, the “super dog,” was happy with himself and happy that the family was safe.

Michael Schumacher; Nebraska, USA


Bronto on the Beach

Oshkosh, Wisconsin, USA; c. 1968

My grandpa likes to tell stories. This is one of his favorite stories — and mine, too.

“In about 1968, when I was in high school, some of my friends and I were part of a drum and bugle corps called the Warriors. One night two of my friends, who had been drinking and were not thinking straight, were walking by a Sinclair gas station. They saw the large brontosaurus mascot on the top of the building. They thought it would be fun to cut it down and transfer it to Lake Winnebago, which was three or four miles away.

“A few weeks later, I snuck out and borrowed my dad’s truck. One of my friends borrowed his dad’s snowmobile trailer. We drove to the gas station, where some of us went on top with bolt cutters to cut the heavy cables that held the dinosaur down. As we took the dinosaur over the edge of the building, it swung against the metal building and made a lot of noise! This was at 1:00 a.m. We were able to hold on to it, despite it swinging. We got it on the trailer and covered it with a tarp. We drove to Lake Winnebago, and some of us rode the floating dinosaur, since it was full of air, fifty feet into the water.

“The next morning a patrolman found the dinosaur as it appeared out of the morning fog on Lake Winnebago’s beach. Someone called the newspaper, and they took a picture of it. The picture appeared on the front page of the newspaper. My dad saw the newspaper and thought it was pretty funny. He did not know, of course, that I had used his truck to do it.

“A few weeks later my friends and I went to a party. All the girls and boys from the drum and bugle corps knew what we had done, so they cut out the article from the newspaper. We did something really stupid — we autographed the articles. The worst part was that one of the boys’ uncles was the chief of police! I think that is how the police found out about it.

“A few days later I was sleeping late when the phone rang. My mom answered it, didn’t say much, and hung up. She came into my room, where I was still half asleep, and said, ‘Mark, do you know anything about a dinosaur?’

“Nervously, I replied, ‘Yes, I know something about a dinosaur.’ We went to the police station, where I had to pay twenty dollars for destruction of property, probably to replace the metal cables.”

My grandpa and his friends were also going to steal a large plastic rocket from the Rocket Olds car dealership and put it in someone’s tree. Because of this experience, they decided not to. This story was funny, but you really should not do this. My grandpa was fortunate that all he had to do was pay twenty dollars.

Elisabeth G. Knutson; Wisconsin, USA


Uncle Bob to the Rescue

Greeley, Nebraska, USA; 1970

This is one of the stories from my mother’s childhood. It is very exciting, and it makes me realize how important she is to me. Her life-risking story stars her heroic uncle.

It was 1970, Easter Sunday, and my mom’s relatives were at her grandmother’s house for their Easter gathering. Everyone was inside and enjoying a huge feast.

After their meal, Mom and her cousins went outside for an Easter egg hunt. After finding all the eggs, they started climbing the huge hill to get to the old jeep they always played on. It was the only vehicle up on that hill, and no one knew why it was there in the first place. The steep hill was very bumpy and rough, and was very hard to climb. At the bottom of the hill was the house, and just beyond the house was a huge twenty-five-foot-deep ravine.

Mom and her cousins started wrestling around in the old jeep, having a really good time. One of the cousins pretended he was driving the jeep. He was playing with the gearshift when he accidentally put the jeep into “drive.” Suddenly they all felt a jerk, and then they started rolling rapidly down the hill. Everyone in the jeep was scared to death and hung on to anything they could find. Then all of them started yelling for help, but no one inside the house heard them. They were all sure they would go over the cliff and that would be the end of them.

From inside the house, Mom’s uncle Bob just happened to glance out the window. He saw the runaway jeep flying down the hill, so he yelled to everyone else in the house as he dashed outside. The jeep was almost at the bottom of the hill and was heading for the cliff at a high speed.

Uncle Bob ran after the screaming children as fast as he could go, but the jeep was still gaining speed. He ran as hard as his legs would carry him and finally reached the jeep. He jumped inside and slammed on the brake as hard as he could. He stopped the jeep right before the edge of the cliff!

The children all gave out a sigh of relief, but they were still shaking and crying. After Uncle Bob calmed all of them down, they went to find their parents. Their parents were grateful that no one was hurt, and thanked Uncle Bob for his heroic act. They asked him how he did it, and he didn’t even know the answer to that question.

Everyone knows still today that if Uncle Bob hadn’t stopped the jeep and saved their lives, no one would ever have seen their children again. Yet no one knows how Bob got to the jeep when it was going at that rate of speed. They do know, though, that Uncle Bob is a true hero.

MaKenna Rother; Nebraska, USA

Real Storms

international waters between Sweden and Denmark; c. 1971

If you asked my parents, they would both tell you they love sailing. You could ask them if they’ve been in storms, and they would say yes. But you have to understand, when they say “storms,” they mean real storms — like seriously-injure-or-kill kinds of storms. Especially with my mom.

My mom grew up in Germany. When she was thirteen, she found an article in the newspaper about a nonprofit organization that renovated old windjammers (a type of sailboat) and took on crews of teenagers to be supervised by a few nautical officers on a long sailing trip. She thought it sounded fun, so she sent a letter with her application. Well, they accepted her, so she packed her bags and went to the rendezvous point, a small town in Germany called Travemünde, just north of Lübeck. From there, they departed in a restored 100-year-old wooden windjammer with three or four sails.

When they went aboard, they were welcomed and taught the locations of the bunks, the galley,* etc. There were about fifteen kids living on a boat that was approximately 120 feet long. They were assigned four-hour shifts for the watch, two shifts apiece, six kids on watch at all times. The plotted course would take them around Denmark through the Kattegat and the Skagerrak, the bodies of water separating Denmark and Sweden.

As they were heading into the Kattegat, the officers saw storm clouds gathering, boiling up into a harsh, thundering mass of darkness. The officers began listening to the weather radio and confirmed their worst suspicions. The wind continued to build, making the waves choppy and severe, so the crew started reefing** the sails. Then the storm hit. The captain quickly realized that reefing the sails wasn’t going to be enough, so he roared into the gale, “All hands on deck! You four, take down the sails!”

My mom was part of the group the captain told to take down the sails, so they started heading to the bow*** to take down the foresail,**** but in the confusion of trying to take down the sail and battle the waves and listen to the captain, they lost control of the main line that held the foresail to the bow. The wind was the ringmaster, the rope his whip, snapping back and forth. One of the girls reached out to restrain it, but with one swift crack, it snapped her arm like a twig. Several officers came forward and helped tie up the sail. They then doubled up into groups of eight for the rest of the sails.

The storm blew them off course, and they had to sail even farther off course to the nearest hospital for the girl with the broken arm, but at least she was alive and well, more or less. And the next time, when they hit storms that were even worse, they were ready.

* A galley is a ship’s kitchen.
** Reefing means folding or rolling up part of a sail so that less of the sail is exposed to the wind.
*** The bow is the front part of a ship.
**** The foresail is a sail in the bow of a ship.

Alex Souris; Texas, USA



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