Summary and Other Notes
I, "Tip" Coleman, am now well into my 80's. I can remember the events in these stories as if they had happened yesterday. Why, or how, I can remember like this, I don't know. Nothing in any of these stories are made up, embellished, or otherwise changed. The only deviation from absolute fact is the omission of some of the character's names. Some of these people may be still around, or their families, and there is no use in possibly embarrassing anyone. Other than this, for what it's worth, this is the story of my first twenty years on this earth.
I've gotta say a few words about the pack of kids I grew up with there in Monegaw Springs. There are several things to be proud of. None of us kids, not one, ever tried any drugs or dope of any kind. None, not one, ever got in trouble with the law, either while in Monegaw or later in life, that I know of. None, not one, ever got in a serious fight with another Monegaw kid. None, not one, of the girls in this story ever got pregnant outside of marriage. (Nor did they have reason too). If any "outsider" got too frisky with the girls, they soon learned the penalty the hard way.
We respected other people's property, and never did willful damage to others. We were looked upon by outsiders as "poor, hicks, undisciplined, backward, and ignorant", which to some extent is very true, and we wore that title as a badge. We were all of these things, and proud of it. We had an unwritten code in that we all looked out for each other - we treated the girls as sisters (mostly), and the boys as brothers. Let some outsider come in to stir things up, and they met a unified wall of resistance.
We were like "free range" kids, left to our own honor, discipline, and safety. None of us ever got badly hurt, got shot, drowned, nor broke our head open because we did not wear a helmet. Knee pads were unknown. Seat belts were unknown. Safety goggles were unknown. Not only is my boyhood lost, but the entire concept is lost. Most of my good memories are of my growing up in and around Monegaw Springs, Missouri, when kids still had some freedom to be kids. Heck, we were even allowed to carry guns and knives. I got my first knife at age 7, and my first gun at age 11 or 12. I think we even ran thru the house with scissors, and no one got their eye put out! Is this good or bad? Who knows?
Today, there are no businesses in this almost deserted town. There are maybe 8 or 10 families still there, none of which I know personally. Most of the streets we kids used to haunt are overgrown and un-findable. The Osage River, Big Monegaw Creek, and Little Monegaw Creek, and the big city park are still there, but mostly submerged by the Truman Dam and Lake, about 70 miles downstream. The springs are still there, but are under lake water, and un-drinkable. The memories are still there, for some of us, but they, too, will go away.