Death-Defying Actions…


He was born Robert Craig Knievel but “Evel Knievel” made his name by attempting more than 75 ramp-to-ramp motorcycle jumps.

The U.S. Army vet got his nickname after he was jailed to illegally attempting a stunt. Evel was in a cell next to Arthur Knauful (pronounced nor-full) who got the nickname “Awful Knauful” for his vicious behavior.

So “Evel Knievel” wasn’t a big stretch for Robert Craig Knievel.

Now, while I’m nowhere near the daredevil that Evel Knievel was, I’ve had my moments.

Most recently I’ve been observed visiting restaurants unmasked and I’ve had two Moderna shots “loaded with microbes” so I can be tracked.

By the way, got a cellphone in your pocket?

But it goes way back before COVID when my risky lifestyle was evident.

I needed stitches when Dave Bowman hit me in the face with a snowball during recess at the old East Mansfield School during recess.

We’ll never know if there was ice or a stone in that frozen weapon.

It melted before the evidence could be collected.

Even before that, while attempting to determine what that noise was coming from an outdoor spigot at Lincoln Heights Elementary School, someone either bumped into me or I lost my balance (probably the latter) and I gouged my ear up.

My sisters and I used to play “Yard Darts” with those weighted, metal tipped winged “death rockets”.

I’m sure the game’s objective was to stick those projectiles inside the red or plastic hoop targets but I recall a time or two when a sister became a target or I was in the sights of one of my kin.

We rode bikes, without helmets, even after I did a swan dive over my handlebars and had to walk my mangled bike over two miles back home, with assorted scrapes and bumps.

We used to ride, unbelted, in motor vehicles that had no safety padding and even had pointy plastic and metal things inside.

We had no padding under the monkey bars or the jungle gym in the school playground.

There was that “merry-go-round-thing” that had pipe handles to hang on to.

Kids would climb on-board while some big doofus (usually me) would run the perimeter, pushing the contraption before hopping on.

The objective was to spin until the ride stopped or you lost your grip.

You’d be flung to the ground to add to the collection of scabs on your knees and hands.

I actually have the legs and hands of a 20 year old thanks to all the scar tissue I’ve built up since my youth.

I used to reek of Bactine when I was a kid.

Never saw much mercurochrome because of fears it contained mercury (which we played with in junior high science class when someone broke a thermometer).

We swam in ponds and small lakes and at one popular spot, cuts from broken glass in the water were a risk.

Get a cut?

Spray some Bactine on it and return to swimming.

We played sandlot baseball on a rocky, dusty field we “cleared” with sickles and scythes.

If the weed stubs didn’t get you, the occasional rock we overlooked might and tripping over the pieces of 2×4’s we used for bases was somewhat likely.

Ground balls were a real adventure.

Batting helmets?

Yea, right!

We used to have “dirt clod” fights in the “woods”.


Maybe because we didn’t have cellphones?

We also built plastic car models so the wheels would roate so that’s why we tried “night racing” in the “woods”.

The light was provided by kerosene-soaked cattails that we lined the track with and lit.

My childhood racing buddies should have had more “Black L:ung Disease” than the typical mid-50’s Kentucky coal miner.

I’ve also bungee-jumped when the only thing on the ground beneath me was a piece of indoor-outdoor carpeting which I guess they would just roll up and discard if the tension on the cords wasn’t correct.

I rode in a two-seat drag car at the Norwalk Speedway and while I was belted in (I think I had a helmet). I remember thinking, “That finish line and crash barrier seems to be getting awfully close”.

I rode aloft with the Army Black Knights when they parachuted into Arlin Field in my home town and I remember their NCO loudly suggesting that I need to “STAY BEHIND” that yellow line in the doorway.

We used to play “house” in the hayloft of my aunt and uncle’s barn…until our parents found out we were using lit candles.

We did coax cousin Norma to jump out of the corn crib door onto a baby bed mattress on the ground below.

Norma is still with us.

My closest “brush with death” was when I slipped on the rain-slicked dock and fell into Huron harbor, missing the bow of the boat and the dock in an area barely more than 5 feet wide.

I landed on my fanny in the muddy slime and feared I was going to drown until I stood up and discovered the water was all of 4 feet deep.

Also, hitting Lon Gardner’s older brother Duane in the head with a green apple from over 75 feet was amazing until I saw him charging in my direction

I think I ran to Shelby before stopping to look if he was still following.

Catching the clothesline across my forehead as I was fleeing capture for a Jack-o-lantern-tipping could have been really serious if I was about a foot taller or the line was a foot shorter.

Explaining that bright red mark on my face to my parents was a challenge.

So here I am, all these years later, still upright and drawing breath.

And, I did all that while not wearing a mask or staying 6 feet away.

My hands were probably unwashed, too.

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