46 years after the caper, the truth can finally be told! We were drunk. I'm pretty sure Dana was there, maybe Dag, too. Somewhere between midnight and 6 a.m., we decided to climb the water tower and stage our very own Vietnam anti-war protest by hanging a peace symbol on the damned thing.
We found an old sheet and a can of black spray paint in somebody's garage. We sprayed a peace symbol on the sheet. It must have been summer, because I don't remember freezing my ass. Illinois winters are a bitch.
We made the town newspaper. A photo of our flag festooned the front page on the next day's edition. Nobody ever figured out who did it.
On my recent trip home, I took in a concert at the Watseka Theatre. Between sets, I followed the boys out the side door where everybody was indulging in smokes. The water tower was in plain sight, only a half block away.
"Remember the peace symbol on top of the tower?" I asked an old friend.
"That was you?" he asked. "I figured that all along. That took some balls."
"Balls, hell," I answered. "It was stupidity. I was with two bastards who kept telling me I was a pussy if I wouldn't do it."
If you look at the pic above, you'll notice that the ladder bows out near the top. For the last 30 feet or so, a climber is laying out backward. And, on that night, I was drunk as a skunk. How I survived adolescence, or indeed how any young man survives adolescence is a mystery.
The great Watseka water tower caper was only a highlight of the inexplicable feats of bravado and machismo that I was compelled to perform.
In my old fartdom, I restrict myself to riding my Harley at 90 mph on the Thruway. Same damned thing. Adrenalin rush. I labor under the delusion that I am entirely in control. One false step, however, and I am likely to become hamburger. Myrna loved that damned Road King. But, she was always a daredevil. She preferred death to living like a coward.