Dwight DeBolt, deceased. A Recollection
He was my very first best friend, ever. Our respective families moved to Odessa about the same time. His home was exactly
one block away from mine. The favorite way for us five-year-olds and our dogs to get to each other's house was via the littered,
unpaved alleyway between us, because of all the adventure it held, with the possibility of seeing (and maybe catching) a cat
or a rat. Our home was on East 13th Street, on the very block that would someday house a youth center for Odessa teenagers.
But in 1948 the street was not yet paved, and I still vividly remember that a guy on a palomino horse galloped by every day
and delivered the newspaper to all the houses on that dusty street. That scene produced in me an aching hunger for both a
horse and a paper route, but I never got either one. I probably should be grateful.
I had forgotten (or repressed) the most memorable adventure Dwight and I had together in our pre-kindergarten days until
we were about to graduate from high school. The two of us were sitting on the low rock wall that surrounded the house and
yard of Odessa'S best known surgeon at the time, Dr. Fulcher. His son Butch was our age, and Butch was not much of a conformist,
nor were his parents. He had permission from his mother to skip class that last day of school, and yes, she had okayed his
idea of a beer bust party in lieu of attending class that last afternoon, and yes, she paid for the keg of Coors that sat
iced down in the front yard. Dwight and l and probably a dozen other knuckle-heads were sipping beer from plastic cups when
he reminded me of the little adventure we had had long ago. It all came flooding back to me in a gale of laughter when I
suddenly recalled something I had not thought of for years.
Our street was finally paved, and the two of us were mastering our new tricycles. It was Dwight's idea to ride our tricycles
to Odessa High School, which was at the very end of 13th Street, at least a mile away, on the west side of town. His brother
attended that school, he assured me, as if that was justification for us going there. We could see it from our houses, so
what the heck? He was my buddy. I would follow him anywhere, so we took off down 13th Street, hunched over the handle bars
and our legs pumping as hard as we could make them go. At first it was easy, because the street gently sloped downward most
of the way until we approached Grant Street, the main street in town. That street was crowded with traffic going both ways.
I don't know if he was braver, or if he had a lesser working pre-frontal left lobe, but he made it across Grant Street by
just going onward full blast. I at least hesitated at the sight of all the cars zooming by.
When Dwight shot across the street on his tricycle and startled drivers could see that I was about to launch after him,
they all started shutting things down. Dwight had triumphantly made it through both lanes of the traffic and was waving
me on to join him. I remember being daunted by so many cars going in different directions. I hesitated a bit asking myself
whether some of those cars would stop for me if I didn't go fast enough across both lanes. I will never forget one woman
just to my left who was stopped at the intersection fearfully watching us both and scared to death for us. She blocked the
lane of traffic behind her by waving her hand out the window while watching to see what I would do. She was protecting us.
What a nice lady, I thought, and stop they did, wide-eyed, to let us little urchins cross the busy main street of town on
tricycles. I thought I was hot stuff, being important enough to stop traffic, and very quickly I darted forward toward Dwight,
who was waiting for me on the other side of the street. When I had safely arrived, he hesitated not at all and mounted up
again, signaling to me to follow, full speed ahead. Like Willie Nelson, we were on the road again! We made it less than
a block when suddenly a car braked hard and pulled in front of us, stopping us dead in our tracks. The driver was my ashen-faced
mother, wide eyed and disbelieving, too relieved to be very mad. Shaking her head, she ordered us off our trikes and threw
them into the car trunk like she was handling junk; she then ordered the two of us sweaty little boys to load up.
Now slumped in the back seat, red faced from our exertions and embarrassed into a deep silence, I knew I had done wrong,
and I was ashamed, so ashamed that I never talked about it again.
In fact, I had forgotten the whole thing until those many years later when Dwight and I attended Butch Fulcher'S graduation
party on a beautiful day late in May of 1962. How did we survive those days?
Dwight, you were a fun friend. Rest well.
Michael Lewis Moore, May 25th 2014