Sticks and mortar: A permanent memory

When my family moved to Louisville in ’92, we rented an apartment on the east side of the city. It was a nice apartment complex, but not too nice. We had a wonderful courtyard, though, enclosed on all four sides with apartment buildings.

I played on the inside of that courtyard.

One thing I remember was making pointy weapons out of sticks. My friend and I would find short sticks, usually the size of small knives, and then use the mortar between the bricks in the walls to sharpen the sticks.

We got pretty good at it too. We quickly built out a nice-sized stash of weapons.

Other parents didn’t like what we were doing. Evidently, sharpened sticks seemed too dangerous for five and six year olds. I don’t know about that – I just knew I enjoyed it.

We sharpened so many sticks that we ran out of good mortar. At three and a half feet tall, we wore all the walls smooth with our sticks, everything within reach anyway. It was great.

A few years later in the next neighborhood, a friend of mine got poked in the eye with a stick. After surgery, he was able to continue to see out of it, but it never looked the same.

That sort of ended all the stick fights, and all the sharpening along with it. I still remember all the sharpening and the fun, though, not so much the danger and tragedy of a friend getting hurt.