When my mom left her second husband near Apache Junction, Arizona to move near my granddad’s place at Causey, New Mexico, I was considerable upset about it all. I’d become overfond of the Arizona guy, liked him a lot despite his human flaws that bothered my mom.
Time proved my level of upset couldn’t be handled by beating it out of me, nor by any of the other usual ways people tried back then to nudge a kid back into being seen and not heard. The Runaways, 1947
My first step-dad [Arizona] was fond of reading the Alley Oop comic strip to me and I was a huge fan. Alley was a cave man skipping forward and backward in time thanks to a 20th Century scientist. Alley even had a 20th Century lady friend named Oola.
About the only thing I’d brought with me from Arizona was my stack of Alley Oop comic strips. We’d travelled light across the desert. And when we arrived in Causey one of the jobs my sisters had was reading those Alley Oops to me, trying to bring up my spirits. Which I suppose it did until they’d finished reading them to me.
Something more permanent had to be done, and my granddad decided to have a shot at it. He promised to take me to visit Alley’s home. Mesa Verde, Colorado.
What a trip that must have been, me pestering him whether we were there yet, how much further before we’d see Alley’s home. I don’t know how long we stayed, but I never forgot old Alley and his home. I still had one picture of the cave dwelling he took back then until Y2K.
And of the hundreds of ancient ruins, documented and undocumented, I’ve poked around in during my life, I’ve never visited one, found one, without thinking to myself with a smile that Alley Oop might have lived there, visited there ahead of me.
When Mel King and I were exploring the ruin on Gobbler’s Knob and were driving back to Socorro when he reached into his daypack for something, came out with a human skull it was the first thing I said to him. “What the hell is that? You packed off Oola’s skull. Get it the hell out of this truck!”
I screeched onto the shoulder and he hid it behind a cedar until we’d be headed back to Gobber’s Knob so he could put it back where it belongs.
Nowadays I think I have more in common with Alley Oop than with any modern human being. If there was ever a right time for me to pop out of the gene pool it would probably have been more appropriate temporally in some other Universe where Alley Oop lived and breathed. It made more sense than this one.