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Still Got My Compass

John W. Pinkerton


I suspect no one has ever thrown away a compass.

When I was a kid, I had a compass.  I don't remember how I acquired it, but I remember checking it occasionally to make sure it still worked and that the North Pole had not moved.

It was a little smaller than the bottom of a water glass with a black plastic case and a white face and a silver needle.

Of all the stuff I had when I was a kid, this is the one thing that survived my childhood.  It's around here someplace here in the house---Lord knows where, but it’s here.

When I was a youngster, back in the 40's and 50's, I think most boys had compasses.  I'm not sure why, but we had them, and I suspect that most of us valued them.

Thinking about my compass made me think of other things I considered “mine” when I was a  kid.

Of course, I had a shotgun, a 410, and a rifle, a 22.  One day I had them: one day I didn't.  When I went to a closet to retrieve one of them, I found an empty closet.  I asked my mom about “my” missing possessions.  She was pretty evasive, but I surmised that Dad had visited a pawnshop with “my” possessions.  I thought it wise not to broach the subject with Dad.

All of the kids back in the day had pocket knives…also most men.  Boys used them to carve sticks and such and most importantly play games; there were lots of knife games back then; mumblety-peg was a favorite.  Leaving my youth caused me no longer to carry a knife… although today, I have one in the end table next to my easy chair.

My suspicions about my hunting tools made me think of my clarinet.  It appeared that the musical instrument had accompanied the weaponry to points unknown.  The firearms, I missed: the clarinet, good riddance.

There were a few other things that were “mine”: marbles was one of them.  All boys had marbles.  All boys played marbles.  There must have been a hundred different games we played with marbles.  I guess some of those marbles would be worth some good money today, but I never put much stock in them.

Oh, yeah---a baseball glove, a bat, and a baseball.  Every boy had a supply of these.  Baseball was the universal game.  At some point I released these to the world and traveled on without them.

I almost left out one of a boy's greatest possessions, his bike.  As I recall, mine was a full-sized 26 inch bike, blue as I recall---the old fashioned kind…no brakes on the handlebars…which was always way too weird for me.  I rode my bike, raced my bike and took pretty good care of my bike.  I don't recall what happened to it.  It probably was discarded out of convenience in one of our many…many moves from home to home, from town to town, from state to state.

Oh,well.  I still have my compass.  I don't feel that I was mistreated when “my” things were unceremoniously removed from my possession.  My attitude wasn't easy come-easy go, but it didn't miss it much.  I think my long term takeaway was that “stuff” comes and goes.  Hell, we only live for a little while, and I'm sure there is someone else out there playing an old clarinet, and someone hitting a ball with my bat, and maybe even riding my old bicycle. 

Good for them.  Anyway, I still have my compass.