Ball Python














Years ago I wrote down stories of my life growing up with 3 other siblings, parents and grandmother in the house.  I titled the stories "Rowley Family Anthology: boys will be boys".  I had my siblings look over the stories and even added some I totally forgot about.  Well, I read those stories to the children while working for the YMCA.  Over the years I would have these same children come up to me and ask me to read a specific story they enjoyed.  I had about 50 to 60 TRUE TO LIFE stories of what it was like growing up in the Rowley Family.  Talk about some serious funny, knee slapping, throat choking, belly holding and pants messing stories.  You best make sure your bladder is empty before reading any of these stories....

Years ago I published a couple of "pamphlets" or "small books" used in the Mental Health Field: Words Can Hurt 1993 & There's No Back Door 1994.  I have several works that I have been working on for over 10+ years.   Man, will I be happy when they are finished.

Well, over the past year I have had numerous youth who have grown up and heard about my new website and asked if I would create a page strictly for these stories.  These children who are now young adults remember every bit of their favorite story.  Well, I pondered over it for awhile and shucks, I figure I just best sit down at this here computer screen and type away on this darn keyboard and make some words.

So, if you know me through the YMCA Camps then YOU HAVE HEARD these stories.  Tell me which ones you wish to read and I will get them on FIRST.

Some titles:

Belt Fight, Deep Heating Tooth Paste, Rambo Granny, Mice in the Car, Rattle-Snake Bite, The Spankings, Fort Digging, Gator Swimming and much more

This book is dedicated to my Family.
I would like to take a moment and thank the Very Special Persons in my life that made this book possible, My Family. My mom and dad, for whom without them I would not be here, the best parents any child could ever ask for. They allowed us kids to experience life, failure and success by maintaining a consistent source of love, care, support, discipline and guidance through their every day actions. My siblings, though a constantly at each others throats, were loving in spirit and in time grew a mutual respect for one another. To my grandmother, who has lived with us since I can remember and put up with all sorts of mischief by us. I would like to thank her for not telling our mom and dad everything we used to do. Even though you are in Heaven now Grandma, you are still watching over us.


Begging For Food And Money:
When I was between the ages of 6 and 7 years old living in Italy I learned strange habits from local kids that I would play with. After School my friend Bruce and I would go to the local restaurants. These restaurants were very high class places. Like something you would see in the movie Scare Face with huge chandeliers, fine china and everyone dressed very formal or as I would call “Fancy Clothes”. Anyway, my friend and I would go into these places and Beg For Food and Money. Yes, you heard me right. I would go up to peoples tables while they ate and put my hand out begging for food or money. Most of the time I would be given a bread roll and other times I would be given 1 lira (which was equal to about a 20 cents). If we got the bread we ate it right there, if we got the money we would put it in our pocket then eventually run down the road to where they made fresh bread or ice-cream on the back brick roads. These roads were barely wide enough o get one car down.

The restaurant owner would allow local children to come into his restaurant and made it clear that once we asked people for food or money we had to move on. “No” meant “No” and to ask twice at the same table would get us thrown out for good. Keep in mind that year I lived in and the part of the world I was growing up in. This was a common practice in Italy among children.

One time while in the restaurant the curtains were closed so when we came out the sun was down and I was late getting home. I ran all the way home knowing I was going to be in trouble. My mother never knew what I was doing and if she did she would of put a hurting on my behind so hard I would of never considered doing it again. I can not believer that I actually begged or food and money but “when in Rome do as the Roman’s do”.
Christmas Day Torture:
This story is twisted and funny all at the same time. Our family, well my parents, had a tradition of “fun torture” during Christmas. It would start with Christmas Eve when we were all told to go to bed early and if anyone woke that Santa may pass us by. On Christmas Eve we were allowed to open up one gift if we were good. Naturally we would look for the biggest gift and our parents would end up giving us the smallest one.

That evening it’s hard for any of us children to fall asleep let alone get in bed. We all thought about the different things Santa would bring us then we all thought about “what if we were bad”. Sure, my younger brother and sister and I would think that but my older brother never worried about it. He was good at blaming everything on anyone but himself.

Morning would come and my older brother would wake me up who would then wake up our younger brother and sister. We would all sit outside of our parents door waiting until the right time to wake them. Oh, did I forget to mention they put a sign on their door “do not knock on this door or wake us until 8:00am”. Well, it was a long morning of waiting considering we were up by 6:00/7:00am. We all sat out in the hallway talking about what we thought Santa brought us and unknown to us our parents were wide awake listening to everything we said. The hallway was narrow and on the second floor. Now, granny was in her room on the other end of the hall and slept well just for the fact her hearing wasn’t that good. I think she also slept with ear plugs. If I was her living in a house of 4 children I would too.

At 8:00am on the dot our parent’s door awoke with thunderous knocking from 8 small hands. Our parents would take their time responding (in our home you did not open a door unless you were given permission) then you would hear our dad’s belt buckle and we knew he was getting dressed. Then the bedroom door would open and mom and dad would be there with their eyes half open, give out a huge yawn and act like they didn’t know why we were all banging on their door.

Now you would think it would be time for gifts, no you are wrong! Once our parents got up, dressed then we all would wait while our mom and dad would remove furniture that was pushed up into the stairwell on our two story home. Our father would push a full size couch, love seats, tables and chairs up into the stairwell to keep my older brother from getting down stairs before anyone else. Sure, looking back it may have been a huge fire hazard but at that moment and during those years it was the furthest think from anyone’s mind.

The furniture finally is removed and actually put back in it’s place. All four of us would have to wait until we were given permission to walk down the stairs. Not run we had to walk, in a line, oldest to youngest. Man, talk about torture. Mother and granny would be the caboose of this small train of children. In our home the living room was literally to the left of the stairs so when you walk down and look to the left the room opened into the living room and formal dinning room. As we all walked down stairs ready to look around the corner our dad stood strong and ready to grab any of us that tried to make a run for it into the Christmas Tree. We all walked in a line down the stairs and got a quick glance of the Christmas Tree and gifts under it before we were all ushered into the kitchen were we all sat around the table.

Now, there are 365 days in a year and 364 of those days are a normal breakfast of cereal, toast, waffles and maybe a little more on weekends but that 1 day of the year, Christmas, my mom pulled out every pot and pan she had. Granny would help while dad go the coffee brewing. Four children sat around a table watching the grown ups cook a 12 course breakfast on Christmas Day! Man, talk about Christmas Day Torture. None of us children were hungry but we all had to wait until our parents cooked a huge meal then filled everyone’s plates up with hot fresh breakfast food. No cereal on Christmas Day.

After shoveling our food in our mouths and washed it down with some ice cold milk we were all ready for the gifts. Nope, it’s not going to happen. The breakfast was bad and torturous but the “coffee time” was worse. After everyone had their meal mom and dad would then pour a cup of hot fresh coffee and SIP IT DOWN. Yep, don’t drink it like normal people but sip it down slower then a turtle in a race.  This may be the reason I have Never, Ever drank coffee and never will.

By now anyone reading this must have sympathy for us at that age but wait it gets even better. After the coffee time my mom makes a comment about needing to wash the dishes first, granny says she needs a nap and dad rubs his belly and talks about needing to cut the yard or clean the garage to work off some of the food he ate. Now, by this time you would think 4 children would be ready for jackets with buckles and a padded white room, nope we were use to it. That is what makes all 4 of us strong and able to adapt in life.

After a few minutes of arguing (not really), crying, moans our parents and granny give in. NOW, we can run to the Christmas Tree and dive into the gifts. Nope, we had to stop off at the bathroom wash our hands then stay in a line and follow our mom into the living room. Once in the living room we were ASSIGNED a spot to sit, mom would be the closest to the tree and would be surrounded by the gifts and dad would be near the sofa with a knife and trash bag (the knife was to help open gifts if needed). Granny would work her way down to the floor or better yet, sit on the edge of the couch.

Now are we ready to dig in? Nope, in our family passing our gifts was always done by mom and ONE AT A TIME! Yep, no one was allowed to open a gift until the other had opened their gift shown everyone then smiled. Man, talk about Christmas Day Torture! Granny would every so often say “you can use the wrapping paper next year”. Dad would take the boxes and crush them to fit them in the trash bag. After about 2 to 3 gifts each we would remind our mom to open a gift herself and we would all wait patiently while she opened her gift. Sometime you never knew if she was going to get the gag gift or not. The gag fits, which turned out to be needed items were funny to us while we wrapped them with dad the night before. This gifts would be a huge supply of toilet paper, napkins, paper towels. We would all smile, laugh while mom put on her best acting show. She really did a great job.

Now, at our young age no child wanted to unwrap a gift of underwear, T-shirts or socks but our parents do a wonderful job making sure we all got them. Now, those gifts were unwrapped in the quickest time. If there was a card attached to the gift we had to read it out loud for everyone to hear. Man, talk about Christmas Day Torture!

Now, after about 1 ½ to 2 hours of opening gifts one at a time it was over. The gifts were all opened and we all then would stand up and everyone would hug each other then take most of our gifts to our room while dad would help us out with the electronic toys and granny and mom would (her mother) would hug again and smell each other’s perfume they got and show each other the jewelry .

These traditions still continue to this day when we all get together from across the USA for Holidays. The tradition has changed some but the family, fellowship and true love for one another is always there and I am so very happy my parents were the Best Parent’s In The World. Our parent’s taught us about: family, honor, respect and appreciation for one another. Thank you mom, dad and granny for the Christmas Day Tortures that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.
Gerbils in my Shirt:
When I was between the ages of 13 to 15 years old I not only raised hamsters but I raised gerbils as well. My brother had snakes and I had gerbils. My younger brother had chickens and my sister wanted nothing to do with any of it. She’s such a girl!

Anyway my brother liked to hold me down and put a gerbil in my shirt. I would thrash around screaming and laughing at the same time with tears rolling down my face begging my older brother to stop. That little gerbil wound scamper around on my chest and belly with it’s tiny claws and that would send me into a screaming/laughing fit. My brother knew I was ticklish .

Eventually my brother would get up quickly then go running toward his room. I couldn’t go right after him since I had a gerbil still in my shirt. I had to get that little booger out first, put him back in his cage then go after him.

To this day every time I stop in a pet store and see a gerbil I start to twitch and smile about the laughing torture my older brother put me through. Who knows, I might have even messed my pants as hard and I was laughing and having a fit with that gerbil in my shirt. If that was the case I have repressed it deep into my brain to hopefully never reveal it’s self.
Getting Even With Brother:
While living in Jacksonville, Fl. and living with my family (mom, dad, little sister and brother) I decided to go looking for some of
my tapes that I let my little brother borrow. He was at school and I went into his room looking for my tapes, I found them in a pile.
The tapes were Out of their cases and mixed up with his tapes. This made me angry so I dumped his tapes out on the floor after getting mine back. I left him  a little note on a sticky thing telling him that he would not be allowed to use my tapes until he could take care of them. Well, while I was at work he decided to get me back. I got home about 12:00am that morning and I went right to my room up stairs. When I opened my door, there must of been about 10 rolls   of toilet paper, unused, unrolled all over my
room. Along with about 30 little sticky notes stuck al~ over the my room. Since it was late I decided I would not wake him up, instead I would plan my revenge. When I went to open my door to go down stairs, there was Vaseline all over the inside door knob. All I could do was laugh, because I thought that was a pretty good one.

I didn’t know that my little brother was hiding in his closet expecting me to go after him that night. The next morning my brother left for school before I got up. When I did get up, I had a plan. Christmas, was a month before and I got my brother a very large Family Tent, which not had been open yet. It was time to try it out, but not in the back yard, but in his BEDROOM! It took me about 1 hour to put that tent up in his room. The tent reached all for corners and boy it was a challenge for me. I ended up in the far corner of the room and had to crawl under the bed to get to the door. I could barely open the door to get out. I laughed all the
way to work just thinking about my brother trying to open his bedroom door and finding a family size tent in there. After putting the tent up my mom came up to me and told me, “now that’s it” she said we’ve gotten each other back now and it was time to stop before we went to far. I must say I had a lot of fun getting even with him and no one got hurt.
GOD is Coming:
When I was growing up in Virginia Beach, Virginia my mother told me of a story. Our family was going to church one Sunday morning like the family would do every Sunday and at times I would attend Sunday School.  That Sunday the pastor spoke about the day that God, Jesus Christ would come back and take all those that believed in him back to Heaven with him. The Pastor spoke of the importance of having faith and believing in God and being a Christian. The pastor mentioned that all believers will be saved and taken to Heaven before the earth is destroyed. Man, that can be some serious powerful stuff in a child’s head. Well, the pastor must have done a good job that day since I remembered it. At a young age many children don’t remember what the pastor/minister says.

I asked my mom about what the pastor had said and she too said that God would save all those that believed in him. She went on to tell a wonderful story about how the heavens would open up. She told of how God would come down from the heavens with lights and Angels surrounding him and looking to take all Christians with him.

I sat there in amazement at the idea of the clouds opening up with a chariot of Angels descending on to the earth, with God leading the way. I asked my mom when this day would come. She told me that no one knew and only God knows when that day will come.

Well, for the next week I dressed in my Sunday clothes and sat on the front porch waiting for God to come. I looked up toward the clouds hoping to see the Angels coming for me. After a week, I realized that God wasn’t coming in a week, a month or a year but when he does come I would be ready no matter what I was doing or wearing. Every so often I look toward the heavens and wonder if this will be the day.

That story you just read has shaped my life to who I am and where I am today. I still look toward the Heavens and wonder sometimes, “will this be the day?”. Yes, as we become adults our pure child minds become cluttered with adult issues, adult pressures and we lose focus of what is truly important in our life. Regardless of your faith, make sure you take that “moment” to look toward your heaven and ask yourself, “will this be the day?” and most importantly, "will you be ready?".     God Bless.
It Won’t Bite, It’s TAMED!!:
My older brother had a liken for snakes that eventually worked it’s way down to me. During the summer months my brother and I would go snake hunting for hours, walking around every possible place a snake could hide. My brother would take some of his friends snake hunting too. After a long day of snake hunting my brother would bring these snakes home. Keep in mind these snakes are the ones he caught without me.

My brother and I shared a room and when I would come home after running around with friends all day my brother would have snakes in a cage. I would come over to where he kept the snakes and I would ask, “do they bite?”. Well, this was the perfect opportunity for my older brother to tell me the truth in life, tell me the right thing, keep me on the right track and be a role model. Well, this wasn’t the day, he looked over at me and with true grit said, “Yep, they’re tamed. I’ve been holding them all day. Why don’t you pick them up…”. Well, being the trusting little brother I was I believed him. I reached my hand into the cage as my brother took a small, unnoticeable step back and then it would happen.

I got “tagged” bit by the snake. I would scream and pull my hand back. My brother would laugh or just give that brotherly “grin love”. Yep, I think that is what they called it back then. Anyway, my older brother figured if the snake didn’t bite me then he would pick it up and hold it for awhile. If the snake bit me he’d just let it hang out in the cage for a few days.

You would think I would have learned after the first or second time but NOPE! It took some time before I figured out what was going on. I learned something about those experiences….. I learned to let my Big Brother hold the snakes first. Well, my older brother now lives up North many States away and I have now passed on this “wisdom” to my snake handling assistant.
Jumping Off Buildings:
When I was around 6 or 7 years old living in Italy my older brother and I did a very dangerous thing. But at that age we didn’t think it was that dangerous, just fun. If our parents knew what we were doing we would be in some serious trouble.

Near where we lived were some old tower buildings being tore down or being rebuilt, either way the place was a mess. There was one old hotel that was definitely being torn down. My brother and I explored in that particular building one day and noticed all the furniture was taken out and the mattresses were thrown out the windows making a large pile of mattresses on the ground below.

See all the mattresses on the ground stacked up like they were gave my brother and I an idea that we saw in the movies. We figured if we stood on the window seal 5 floors up and jumped out onto the mattresses that would be fun! Well, I looked out the 5th floor window and after some “motivational speaking” from my brother I jumped! Needless to say when I landed and safely walked away my brother then jumped.

Could you imagine what must have gone through drivers minds while they drove down the road and saw 2 children jump out of a 5th floor broken down hotel window? I can not believe I did that and maybe that is where I get my fear of heights from now.
Mark’s Flatulence:
When my younger brother mark was about 9 or 10 years old he had a bad habit or farting at the family dinner table. During this time we all lived in Charleston South Carolina and lived in a 2 story house.

During one night at the dinner table our dad got fed up with the farting at the dinner table and told my younger brother if he did it again he would get a spanking. Well, we were able to finish dinner that night and Mark did a good job about not stinking up the family meal. Mark was also still upset of the potential of getting a spanking. Once dinner was over we all dismissed ourselves from the table and Mark walked up stairs toward his room. Our dad was at the bottom of the stairs watching him walk up and giving him that “don’t challenge me son” look. Just as Mark reached the top step and put his foot down he let out one of the loudest farts ever heard in the Rowley Family. Mark got so scared that he looked back at our dad at the bottom of the steps and began to cry. My older brother Michael was around the corner upstairs when this happened and was laughing so hard he couldn’t breathe.

This was the first time in the Rowley Family History that a fart caused a family member to cry. To this day, when ever my older brother Michael thinks about this he can not help but to laugh. I can tell you my younger brother Mark has grown up and when the family gets together for Holiday’s dinner is a “fart-free” zone.
Mom’s First Driving Lesson with The Kids:
While living in Italy my dad would be off at work and mom would be home with the children and needing things from the local store. The only thing was that mom didn’t know how to drive a stick shift. And of course the only car in the driveway was a stick shift. Well, needless to say my mom learned how to drive the car but she kept the kids with her at all times like any good and safe mother would. Only my older brother Michael was brave enough to sit up front with mom as her facial expressions told a tale of horror and terror only every child in the world could see. AS mom drove down the road and about 2ft. At a time the 3 other kids were in the back seat crying our eyes out which didn’t help mom any and her already stressed out situation. My brother of course kept confident and told her to continue on. There must have been a candy sale at the store for him to encourage her so much.

Keep in mind we were in Italy and back then people drove fast and crazy compared today’s standards. I didn’t know that much Italian but when the motorist were able to get back they slung their arm out the window, gave a couple of gestures and yelled a lot of Italian that I didn’t understand. I will assume they were not saying nice things. Mom continued to hit every pot hole in the road and at times in the other lane too. Mom finally gave up and turned around and headed home. T he only way we made it home alive was with the help of an Italian man that helped my mom get off the road for good.

Once home mom went into her room to relax and call dad to tell him what happened. My brother and I raced to our room to change our shorts then go out to play our young lives away.
Monsters in my bed:
Growing up with an older brother and having to share a bed with him until the age of 10 to 11 years old could be hazardous to your Mental Health. Many nights when I was just about to fall asleep my old brother Michael would begin talking in a low and deep voice, “I’m not your brother”. I would then wake up real quick, open my eyes and tell him he was lying. Hearing myself telling my brother he was lying somehow made me feel better or I was just trying to convince myself he was lying.

My brother would continue to tell me he was not my brother and that he was actually an Alien or Monster from some other place. During this whole time I would not look at my brother and lay perfectly still. I would either be hiding under the covers or looking at the wall. If I looked at my brother he would scare me more and what if he was right, what if he really was a monster?

Laying there totally terrified with the thought of my brother Michael being a monster did not help my sleeping habits. I would try to get smart and told Michael if he kept trying to scare me that I would tell on him and he would get in trouble (this technique would usually work). Well, that didn’t work. Michael told me that our parents were actually Aliens too and I was the only one left in the house that wasn’t an Alien. He told me that if I told on him then my Alien parents would now know that I know they were Aliens…. See where this is going?

Regardless I end up falling asleep terrified only to wake up the next day and wonder if my brother and parents were monsters. Once my bother started picking on me again I realized he was in fact my older, mean brother. I never did tell my parents what he used to do because, what if my brother was right? What he my mom and dad were actually monsters or Aliens. I didn’t want to take chance.

Around the age of 11 to 12 I finally got my own bed but continued to share a room with my brother. Gee, my own bed I thought, now I wouldn’t get scared anymore. Nope, every so often as I was about to fall asleep a low, deep voice came from the other side of the room, “I’m not your brother….”
Michael the Fashion Model:
My older brother never could grasp the concept of matching clothes let alone colors. Our mom would pick out his clothes to wear to school every day well into his high school years.

One day when he was in 8th grade, mom was sick and she couldn’t pick his clothes out, so he picked them out himself and went to school in his “fashion statement”. The teachers at school knew something was up and asked him if he picked out his own clothes that day. My brother couldn’t figure out why the teachers would be asking him. When he got home that afternoon mom was up and feeling better until she saw what he was wearing and had a fit. My older brother went to school wearing yellow plaid pants and an orange and blue striped shirt. He looked ridiculous and never even knew it. To this day my older brother will never fin himself on the cover of GQ magazine and his wife picks out his clothes to wear now. I have even heard that his little daughter sometimes helps daddy pick out his work clothes.
Missile Toe Time:
When my older brother and I were living in Virginia Beach, Virginia we had our own way of earning money for Christmas gifts. During Christmas time people are a lot more giving and Missile-Toe is the one thing to get people in that mood. The problem was on how we would get the missile toe out of the tree. My older brother would climb up the very tall trees by hugging the tree trunk and inching his way upward. Once there he would break off the missile toe branches and I would be on the ground ready to pick them up.

Sometime the tree would be too high or the limbs the missile toe was on was to weak and thin so that is when I would shoot the missile toe out of the tree. I became pretty good using our BB gun we got for Christmas years earlier and I could shoot pretty good. After all the missile toe was collected my brother and I would go home and put them in small sandwich bags to sale. My brother and I would go door to door selling them for .25 a bag. One Christmas my brother and I made about $100 each, that is not bad when you are about 10 to 12 years old.
Most Fun I Had Being Sick:
When I was 10 years old living in South Carolina (Charleston), I came down with the chickenpox. My mother, having four children, didn’t want to have to go through 4 individual children being sick, staying home and all that stuff. Instead, she thought if we all got sick at the same time she could get it over with. So, my mother told my older brother to stand right in front of me and told me to cough on him. Yep, my own mother gave me permission to cough in my brothers face knowing I was sick. Now, this drove my brother crazy having to stand there while I coughed in his face. So, I had to clear my throat a few times and may have even put more than a cough on his face…. I milked this experience for everything I could. This was my revenge for years of being picked on by my older brother. Sure I was sick with chickenpox but it didn’t matter as long as I had the permission to cough in my brother’s face.

My bother eventually came down with chickenpox too. My mother realizing the chickenpox idea words try to do the same with head lice. My younger brother and sister had head lice and my mom thought if they rubbed their heads against ours we, my older brother and I, would get head lice too then get it over. What she didn’t know was head lice was a virus and if you get it once; you can get it again. Needless to say I did not come down with head lice and to this day have never had head lice.
Mother's Day Special:
Our family has a twisted way of showing how much we love each other. On Mothers Day of every year while we
were all young, our mom would get the most unusual things. The night before, our dad would have us get together to go over the plan of action. The more bizarre the better. In our house on Mothers Day, mom does not get out of bed in the morning. She stays in bed and is served a breakfast in bed along with the morning newspaper. Now, keep in mind my dad would inform our mom that something is up and not to get out of bed until we had our fun. The night before I would write up a menu for her to choose from. Some of the items on the menu would be: tadpole soup, mud pies, apple slices with sand sprinkles, coffee on the rocks, toast with cat litter sped and fur ball salad. Now, we would also have normal foods too, such as grapefruit halves, eggs and toast, milk, beacon and other stuff.

On Mothers Day, we all would come into her bedroom -with towels over our arm and in church clothes. We were trying to look like butlers. After handing our mother the menu she of course would go all the way and order most of the weird stuff. After, she placed her order, we would give her the newspaper for her to read while her meal was being prepared. Our dad would be down stairs preparing all this strange stuff. We would get the mud from outside and the tadpoles were gotten the day before down by the creek. After preparing the gross stuff, our dad would then prepare our mom some real food. When my mom finally got her meal she would smile and pretend to taste it while us kids would stand there laughing -and having a good time. After about 5 minutes of that, our dad would then come into the room holding her breakfast and a rose. The rest of the day our mom would lay around the house being waited on hand and foot. It was her day to enjoy and our day to work our butts off.

Moustache Lip:
When I was a teenager growing up in Orlando, Florida I went through what every young boy goes through, puberty. However, with reddish blonde hair, blue eyes and freckles any facial hair that grew was hard to see with my fair skin. So, what would a fair skinned boy do in this situation when all his other dark haired friends were getting facial hair? I drew it on! Yep, one day I would have no facial hair and the next day I had a dark “peach-fuss” on my upper lip that was created using eye-liner brush.

I can only imagine what the teachers thought about me. Man, I Must have been the talk of the water-cooler and smoke break area for teachers. Now, of course my friends noticed it and boy did I hear about it. I tried to lighten the “peach-fuzz” under my nose but enough so everyone could tell I was “growing up into a MAN”. Okay, so I look back on it and I know what I did was small potatoes compared to what other boys do at that time in their life.
My First Room:
While living in South Carolina my brother and I shared a room and had been ever since I can remember. Anyway, my brother and I were getting on each others nerves. Well, he was getting on my nerves so, I decided to move out. Move out of the room that is. I told my parents and they said I could if I could find a place to stay. Well, I did find a place, my younger brother and sisters bedroom closet. It was a walk in closet and was used as a storage room. I took the large boxes that were stacked up and laid then on the ground one next to the other to form a bed. I then put a mattress on it and my sheets and blanket. I put some pictures up in there I drew and made it my FIRST very own room. I was happy as can be and I’m sure my brother was happy to have the whole room to himself too. This lasted for a couple of weeks until I could no longer take my little brother coming into MY ROOM taking my things or messing with them. My mom and dad allowed me to make my own decision on when I would return back to my brother and I’s room. When I did return to my bedroom with my brother, the picking started right back up just like any brothers would do.
Nose Bleeds:
Between the ages of 9 to 15 years old, I had something strange happen to me but it would only happen in school. While in elementary school it was common knowledge, among t he students, that if you picked your nose to much your nose would bleed. Well, while in middle, junior and high school my nose would bleed. Some of the kids in my class would think I picked my nose to much and would tease me. Fact is that I didn’t pick my nose and my nose would begin to bleed after I laid my head on my desk or just titled my head down or back for a short time. Needless to say that the nurse in my schools knew who I was since I would be visiting them almost daily. Once at the nurses office it would take about 8 to 10 minutes before they could get my nose to stop bleeding.

In the event I ever got the nose bleed at home and my older brother was being a bully I would just blame it on him and he would get in trouble. Hey, what are brothers for. To this day I am very protective of my nose and having anyone touch it, pinch or bump it in anyway.
Pet Food Craving:
Okay, this one you may be saying “no way, he’s making it up” but I am not and it is all true.
While living in Virginia Beach, Virginia I learned a bad habit of eating dried dog and cat food. I tried it while at a friends house on a dare and ended up liking it. When I would go to my friends house he would pour me a small bowl of pet food and I would eat it like it was snack. Needless to say neither of our parents were aware of what I was doing and that my friend was my “dealer” or “supplier” of pet food!

I remember one time while at another friends house I was playing outside in his back yard when I spotted the dog dish. The dog was inside and there was still food in the dog bowl/dish. I didn’t think my friend would mind so I grabbed up a handful of dried dog food and began eating it. Well, I did this several times at this friends house until his mother found out.

Now I am not sure what happened at that time but I do remember my mom confronting me about my “eating habits” and being very upset. She told me that my friend’s mom came knocking one day and accused my mom of abusing me for feeding me dog food. My mom not knowing anything about all this denied such allegations and said a healthy meal everyday and didn’t get fed dog food. This one back in the day when parents actually spoke to other parents before calling the news or the police.

Anyway, I told my mom that I tried the pet food awhile ago and ended up liking it. She told me that pet food was for pets and their food didn’t have all the “right stuff” that little boys need to grow up healthy and strong. I had to go over to my friends house and tell his mother that my mom didn’t abuse me and that I liked the food but would stop eating it.

Well, after going cold turkey and having withdrawals I gave it up and on rare occasions find myself walking down the pet food isle at supermarkets.
Poke Weed Dinner:
When I was about 13 years old in 8th grade I was in Boy Scouts along with my older brother. Our Scout Master told us of a college course on Botany and edible plants. Well, neither of us were old enough for college courses but we took the course since it was something my brother and I were very interested in. We camped a lot wit the scouts and learning what we could and could not eat from the land was really cool to know.

My brother and I went to the evening classes. Needless to say I was the youngest in the entire class of about 20 students by as much as 8 years. Out of all the plants were learned about and sampled the dish my brother liked Poke Weed the most. Poke Weed in poisonous to human’s in it’s natural state until it is “bleached” (boiled) several times to take out the toxins.

I on the other hand didn’t like Poke Weed that much, it tasted to much like greens to me. I preferred Mustard Seed make into soup with the stalks of Poke Weed. My brother didn’t like the Mustard Seed and when the course was finally over we both had our favorite recipes from natures table.

My brother one day shortly after the course ended when into the fields to pick plenty of Poke Weed for our mom to cook up. I think he had it planned since he knew I didn’t like Poke Weed. Just like in the story of “Greens” I sat at the dinner table pleading with my mom that I wouldn’t have to eat the Poke Weed. Of course my older brother was finished with his Poke Weed and I sat while mine got colder and colder which only made it that much worse. My older brother smiling at me didn’t help either.

My mother finally allowed me to leave the table after only eating about 3 large pieces of Poke Weed. I believe I spit it up later that night.

When it came my turn to have Mustard Seed soup made for dinner one night I looked in my room for the recipe but couldn’t find it. It seemed the Mustard Seed Soup that I liked but my brother didn’t seem to have mysteriously disappeared. I never did get to have my dinner of Mustard Seed Soup and watch my brother squirm in his dinner chair while I got to smile across the table from him. I learned a lesson that year to make copies of anything I like or might use later in life.
Rattle-Snake Bite:
When I was about 22 years old living in Jacksonville, Florida I came into contact with a rattle snake. First, let me give you some background. I’ve been catching snakes since I was a young boy of about 10 years old. Since working for a local Mental health Facility I have caught more poisonous snakes than ever. Pygmy Dusky Rattle Snakes are common around the months of June and July. During these months at work I go out to the “smoke Break Area” and look for any snakes before letting my adult patients out there. Now, that you are up to date let us continue..

I caught a rattle snake at work the day before and kept it in my bedroom in a pillow case. The next day, Sunday, I planned to let it go in my parents back yard, like I’ve done with about 3 others. My parents back yard is a patch of woods and swamp that lead to the Intercostals Waterway. Anyway, I decided to take a picture of the snake before letting him go. The problem was that I didn’t have enough hands. My father was on the screened in porch reading the paper, having his coffee and smoking a cigarette. My mother was inside doing what ever moms do. Granny, was asleep or at work, I don’t remember. I took the snake to the backyard, holding the snake in my right hand I tried to focus my camera and hold the snake with my left hand. Now, this camera was a Cannon A-1 model and had detachable lenses. Well, while trying to focus on the snake I didn’t see the snake turn his head to the right and bite the tar out of my thumb. I quickly took my eye away from the view finder and saw the snake biting down on my thumb. I threw the snake to the ground and looked closely at my thumb. It wasn’t to hard to figure out that the rattle snake bit me, their was a little stream of blood shooting from me thumb. Now, here I was standing in the back yard just bitten by a poisonous rattle snake. You would think I would go running in the house and call 911.  No, I didn’t! I was shocked that I was bitten by a venomous snake having catching them for so many years. I looked down at the rattle snake on the ground. It was curled up and looking like he was ready to strike again. Do you think that scared me off? No, I bent down toward the snake and tried to take it’s picture. Don’t forget I am still bleeding from a venomous snake bite. I took a couple of pictures of the snake then decided to go inside and let my parents know. I remained very calm for someone that just got bit by a rattle snake. I walked in the back porch and told my dad who was still reading the paper, drinking his coffee and smoking a cigarette, all at the same time by the way. He at first thought I was kidding, I like to play jokes.

My mom happened to over hear what I told my dad and told me not to kid like that. When I showed them the bloody thumb my mom freaked. She started rambling on about calling 911 and my dad was trying to keep her calm. Yes, I reminded them that a rattle snake was a poisonous snake. While my mom walked around in circles telling me to go to the hospital I got on the phone to my Primary Physician. I’ve heard of stories of people getting stuck with large medical bills and I didn’t want that to happen to me. So, I called my doctor. I got his answering service. I forgot it was Sunday! I told her that I just got bit by a poisonous snake. She said she would contact the doctor immediately and have him call me. While waiting to hear from the doctor my mom was flipping through the yellow pages looking for Poison Control. My dad was asking me how I felt. My thumb was tingling but that’s it. After what seemed like 10 to 15 minutes, which was actually 2 to 3 minutes, the phone rang. It was a doctor but not mine. He told me he was taking all calls for my doctor. When I told him what happened he started yelling at me to call 911and seek medical help immediately. I asked him about who would get stuck with the bill. He told me that my insurance covered Emergency. While I was asking him to explain the policy he was telling me to hang up the phone. I hung up the phone.

Now, do you think I called 911 or went to the hospital? No, I didn’t. I called the hospital to let them know I was on the way. I lived behind the hospital which, was about 5 minutes away. The nurse who took the call started freaking and told me they were ready and to get here immediately. I. decided to drive myself to the hospital. My parents didn’t like that idea so my dad followed me in his car. Once there I saw a gurney waiting outside of the emergency entrance. I parked the car and walked up to them. I asked them if they were waiting for a person that got bit by a rattle snake. They said they were. I said “here I am”. They were surprised to see me calm and walking up to them. They walked me inside and asked me to describe the snake again. I told them I had the snake in the pillow case I was carrying with me. Did I forget to tell you I took a LIVE venomous snake to a hospital? Well, I did! When they realized that the snake was still alive they freaked. They said they would take it out back at kill it. I told them they wouldn’t do that. My dad was right next to me by this time, looking for a parking spot. The medical staff put me in a wheel chair and rolled me. I met the doctor that would handle my case. I asked him to look in the pillow case and identify the snake. He did so, I knew he knew his snake bite treatment. The snake was put under my car tire. My dad didn’t want to carry the snake home. I dad gave the front desk staff the medical and insurance information while I was in back laying in a bed with IV’S stuck in me and a heart monitor.

I remained at the hospital for about 5 hours. The doctor eventually gave me the anti-venom. He wanted to see if I showed any signs of having the poison injected in me from the bite. I am happy to say that I’m pretty sure when the snake bit me it didn’t inject any venom. My dad went home about an hour after getting there. I told them I would call them if anything happened. I drove myself home that night. I will say that I didn’t have to go to work on Monday. I called my charge nurse told her what happened. She had no problem with me staying home for a day. I learned my lesson, don’t get to cocky or you might get bit!

Running Away:
Before coming to North America, while living in Morocco, Africa my older brother , Michael, was the first to run away from home after things not going his way at home. My older brother, who was about 5 or 6 years old at the time, decided he wanted to go live with his friend and his family which lived down the dirt road. My brother thought they were “nicer” parents and even was bold enough to tell this to our mom and dad. Our parents surprised him by telling him if he wanted to leave he could. I was too young to know what was going on so I just sat on the carpet looking at everyone while picking my nose.

While my brother was in his room packing his suit case our parents were on the phone to my brother’s friends parents. You know when parents start talking that can only mean something is up. Anyway, the other parents were willing to take my older brother into their home. My brother still thought our mom and dad would stop him but they didn’t. Our mom even held the door open for my brother since his hands were full with his suitcase. He walked down the road to his friends parent’s house. When he reached his friend’s house his mother met Michael at the door, grabbed his suitcase and walked him to his new room which he would share with his friend. She helped him unpack then took him to the kitchen handed him a bucket of water and brush. This mom said if he was going to live there he would have to work for it and share the chores. That mom kept Michael busy cleaning everything she could possible find to clean.

Before the sun could set my brother was back home in his own house in his own room and glad to be back. He realized that he had it better at home than he thought. By then I had finished picking my nose and had plans to move South to my butt. Needless to say my brother remained a Rowley and has grown up and has a family of his own now.
Santa Clause:
Did I ever tell you about when I saw Santa Clause? Well, then sit back and read on.
While I was a little boy of 8 or 9 years old living in North Carolina I had a very unusual experience. No, I was abducted by aliens and “lost time”. I saw something in the sky.

My older brother and I were in the back yard raking up leaves that meant it was either Spring or Fall time. I can not remember. Anyway, earlier that day we were picking on each other (it was more like him picking on me ALL THE TIME) and were sent outside to rake leaves for punishment.

While my brother and I were raking leaves and complaining to each other, more like blaming each other I looked up and saw something incredible. What did my wondering eyes should appear but a tiny red sled and eight tiny reindeer, flying across the sky. It was the middle of the day and not a cloud in the sky when I saw what I saw. Heck, it wasn’t even Christmas Time. I really did see Santa Clause flying across the sky and told my brother.

Of course when my brother looked up to see what I was pointing and yelling at it was gone. My brother thought I was seeing things and everyone else for that matter. However, I do remember my brother telling me that he saw a 6ft. Rabbit in our shed in the backyard while we lived in Italy. Let me just say no one believed him then but with my experience we agreed to believe each other and what we saw.

I am much older now and haven’t had such an experience anymore nor has my brother.  I learned my lesson to keep a camera with me at all times.
“S” Talk by Mom:
Okay, this subject maybe to intense for younger persons so read with a dictionary next to you.
When I was in 5th grade growing up in Virginia I was about 11 years old. In 5th grade is when the teachers decided it was a good time to begin telling students about the “Birds & The Bees”. Now schools begin in kindergarten, man I am glad I am not a student these days. Anyway, it was that time of year, more like the last month of school before the summer so I brought a note home for my mom to sign giving permission for me to participate in the education of my body!

Now, my dad was out to sea being in the Navy and I heard many things from my friends. My brother and I never spoke about such topics nor could I ever imagine us having those conversations. At school I would do like most boys did, pretend we knew everything and fake it. Of course at that time I didn’t realize that 99% of the boys were pretending too.

When I brought the note home for my mom to sign she looked over the permission slip then asked me if I already knew about the “Birds and The Bees”. I told her I knew about it all of course lying through my small pearly white teeth. Well, that just allowed my mother to say those words, “tell me what you know…”. Are you CRAZY? I can’t tell my mom about sss.sss.sss. Sex education about “Birds and The Bees”. She was my mom, I can’t tell it to a girl.

Okay, besides her being a girl and my mom I didn’t know a thing about the “Birds and The Bees”. I think my mom could tell I was very nervous and decided to make this situation a lot less stressful for the both of us. She sat me down on the corner of her bed and told me about the “Birds and The Bees”. She decided that she would tell me about it all like a “refresher” course and if I had any questions to just speak up.

I sat on the corner of the bed for about 25 minutes while she told me everything about Sex Education. I said nothing and listened with great interest. I also tried to act like I heard everything before. When she was finished she asked if I learned anything new and I told her I already knew everything. Once again I was lying out of my teeth.

I left my moms room with the signed permission slip in hand and went to my room. I learned a lot in that 25 minutes and for the rest of the day I told myself I would never get married or have kids. That was gross what she told me but I must say it made taking that class so much easier.

As I got older I remember “sharing information” about the “Birds and The Bees” with friends of mine. If a friend had information on some areas that I didn’t we “switched and shared” information. We asked each other first if we got it from our parents or some other kids.

Now that I am older I still use my mom’s method of talking about difficult topics when dealing with youth. In today’s world many parents rely on the schools to teach their child about the “Birds and The Bees” but then complain when they don’t like what they taught their child. WHAT IF: parents were parents and actually taught their child the values they wish their child to learn and allow the schools to be teachers. If parents were like “role models” then growing up would be a lot easier! Okay, I will get off my soapbox and I hope you too learned something from this short story of mine.
Snakes Hide Out:
Over the years as a preteen and teenager my older brother and I would catch snakes then keep them in cages at home. On many occasion, some of the snakes would get loose.

One time while my mom was in the bathroom a black racer, which got out a day or two before came slithering by her feet. She let out such a scream. That was the quickest I ever saw my mom use the restroom. She came running out of the bathroom pulling her pants up at the same time and yelling at me to get that snake.

Another time, my older brother’s king snake got loose and had been out for a few days. One early morning my mother woke up hearing a moan coming from the other side of the house. It was her mom, our grandmother. My mom quickly woke up my brother and I. We all went over to my grandmother’s room and opened the door. Their on the bed was my grandmother with her eyes wide open and a terrified look on her face. My mother asked her what was wrong and she could barely get out the words.

My grandmother pulled back the bed sheets on her body and there at the bottom of the mattress was the king snake curled up next to her right leg. The snake was trying to keep warm with granny’s body heat. Needless to say my grandmother had a hard time sleeping each night after that. My brother was happy to find his snake again but our mom didn’t find it funny at all. For the next few weeks that story was told to all of our friends and family.

I believe it was this story that kept the rest of our relatives from visiting us for long periods of time.
Tacks in the bed:
When I was 11 to 12 years old while living in SC, my brother and I still shared a room together. Our beds were on both sides of the room and we had a different way of dealing with Sibling Rivalry (getting even). One day my older brother, who was 2 years older than me, got mad at me because I was messing with his things. The problem with my brother was I didn’t ask and I ended up breaking what ever it was. My brother decided to teach me a lesson and teach it in a way that it would ”stick” with me for awhile.

My brother went through my desk and took out about a dozen thumb tacks and put them up under my bed sheet with the sharp in sticking through the bed sheet. He then put the blanket back over the bed sheet. Well, that evening after dinner and a shower I was ready for bed. My brother was sitting on his bed just looking over at me. I was used to my brother giving me the mean look or the look that says “what are you doing dork?”. I didn’t think twice about my normal routine of pulling the covers back and hopping into my bed. Did I mention the lights were turned out? Well, my brother could have sold tickets for what came next. I was at an age where puberty was creeping up on me and my voice was already changing. Well, when I hit that bed and those dozen tacks stuck into my young tender body I screamed like a little girl having her hair pulled. My brother on the other hand was laughing with tears in his eyes. Man, talk about Brotherly Love. Every time I tried to get off the bed by using my hands I just put my hand on another tack. I was yelling, crying and telling him he was going to get in trouble. The only thing that brought some sort of relief was the knowledge knowing my brother would get in trouble for it.

Well, I walked around feeling sore for a couple of days. I learned my lesson soon about asking my brother for permission before using or taking anything of his.

Well, I am not sure how it happened but I was between the age of 10-11 living in South Carolina. It was one of those times in my life I can’t explain. I do know that my older brother Michael will never forget.

It started like any other Christmas Night with all of us siblings trying to sleep knowing Santa was coming that night. Well, kids sleeping the night before Christmas is very rare and it happened to me.

Christmas Day arrives and some how my older brother Michael and younger brother and sister already woke my parents after sitting outside their door for hours. They all made their way downstairs over the furniture pushed up into the hallway and even had breakfast. All this was done while I remained curled up in my warm, comfortable bed.

Apparently my parents were just as baffled as my siblings and thought I may be pulling a prank to drive my older brother crazy. Well, they decided to go with that idea and told my brother Michael that no one could open up any Christmas gifts until I woke up ON MY OWN. My younger brother and sister couldn’t understand why they were all sitting around the Christmas Tree and no gifts were being opened. Granny had no problem with this and was ready to go back up stairs for a nap.

Now remember we have 3 children downstairs sitting in front of a Christmas Tree staring out gifts with their names on them but no one is allowed to touch them until I woke up from my bed upstairs on my own. Apparently my brother went into the kitchen several times to get stuff for my parents and would slam the cabinet doors shut, rattle some pots and pans and do what ever he could to wake my sleeping behind up. As you can see it didn’t work.

While I laid in my bed sleeping under my warm covers and dreaming of what ever a young boy dreams of my family sat downstairs around the Christmas tree waiting patiently. That was all nice and fine until I was suddenly and aggressively woken up by my older brother standing over me yelling, “It’s Christmas you dummy. Get up so we can open our gifts stupid…”. What loving words from my older brother that shared a room with me.

I eventually woke up, rubbed my eyes and walked downstairs. I think my parents were as surprised as I was that I slept through Christmas Morning. That may be why they let my brother come up stairs and wake me up. I am guessing I would have slept much of the morning away if I could have.

To this day I can honestly say I have not slept through Christmas since that young day in my life.

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