Everybody Has a Story: Summertime mystery shriek sends boys scrambling

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When we bought our property in Sara some 58 years ago, we did not realize what a treasure we were getting. The east side of our lower acre adjoined what is now Whipple Creek Park, a popular place for hikers and horseback riders.

We had our own set of trails, which included several lovely meadows interspersed with hundreds of our treasured evergreens, mostly firs and cedars, also lots of big leaf maples and of course scrub brush. My three children practically grew up out there, and especially on weekends we could hear campers and knew they had built fires, very carefully, of course. They were mostly teenage boys, and we relished the thought of perhaps sneaking up through the waist-high grass to spy on them!

One spring evening, we did just that, my two girls and their two friends and I. We tried to keep from giggling, but it wasn’t easy. I think the girls recognized the boys and were giddy with the thought of perhaps scaring them.

So when we got to the southeast corner of the first prairie, where the smoke from the fire wafted over us, we thought about what to do to give them a really awesome thrill. The girls all thought that if I could scream real loud and long, that would surely create panic. Fortunately, we were all slim and could easily hide behind ancient evergreen trees; they’d never see us and would be too frightened to come looking for us.

So we did just that: we found huge trees and lined up behind them; my younger daughter hid directly behind me and the others found their own stately trees and stood rooted behind them. I didn’t know if I could scream awesomely enough, but I’d give it my best shot. We really didn’t know what to expect but knew for sure we’d get a reaction!

We could hear the boys carrying on and they were well visible by the light of the fire. What fun! I was trying my best not to giggle, but my young daughter was a bit nervous. She asked me in a quiet whisper if we were safe. I assured her we were. After all, they were just normal, average schoolboys. How could they find us and what could they do to us?

After listening to them for a while and trying not to be too giddy, I cut loose and let out a wild, shrill, threatening roar.

The boys immediately sprang into action! “What was that?” we heard over and over. They ran around to the edge of the forest but were truly afraid to go into the grove of thick trees. My daughter, who was holding onto my waist, whispered again, “Mom, will they hurt us?”

But what I thought she said was, “Mom, have they heard us?” So I answered in a whisper, “Yes, of course they heard us!” And naturally she thought I said “hurt.” A comedy of errors, I guess it is called.

We heard the boys deciding several of their group should go home to retrieve guns because we might be cougars or mountain lions! We hunkered down and crept through the tall grass to the far edge of the meadow where we would not be detected. We made it home and have told the story many times since. I don’t think we’d try it in this day and age but it was fun!

Somehow the word got out about our adventure and I got kidded about my scream. I guess it did sound lethal!


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