When my Grandma was alive, every year Dad would take care of her fruit orchard, pruning the trees and giving her huge yard a summer makeover. In the process, he’d create a large pile of drying brush that we’d later turn into a huge bonfire on a Sunday morning. As my brother and I got older, we were allowed to be the bonfire “babysitters.” This involved us getting short little willow twigs that we’d light and pretend to smoke when Mom and Dad weren’t looking. Many a slug and snail were also cooked on these little twigs, much to the dismay our parents who weren’t particularly fond of crispy critters lying around the outskirts of the pile.
When the Sunday morning arrived and it was time to burn up our pile, my brother and I were ready. Unfortunately, the pile wasn’t completely dry and Dad was having some trouble getting it started.
I remember Grandma mentioning that she had been cleaning out the attic and had some items we could use to get the fire going. Dad followed Grandma into the house and came back out carrying a large cardboard box. He growled at my brother and I to leave so that he could get the fire going. We protested, reminding him that we were professional fire starters and slug chefs. Our griping just bought us time in the old Chevy while he, my mom, and Grandma worked hard to get the fire lit.
We could see Dad slowly picking up what appeared to be magazines out of the cardboard box. He’d look briefly at each magazine and then toss it into the growing fire. I could have sworn that I sensed hesitation as he threw each magazine in, but I had no clue why he looked sort of sad as the flames ravaged the magazines.
A short time later, after the cardboard box was empty and the fire was raging, we were released from the captivity of the old Chevy and allowed to take our place back by the fire. My brother, who enjoyed the fire much more than I did, began poking the embers with his willow twig. As he did, large pieces of ash began to fly up exposing us to what had been printed on the magazines Dad had thrown in; vintage Playboy.
We saw boobies, butts, and various other body parts, drifting about in the air. My horndog brother would try and blow out the larger pieces of ash so that he could get a better glimpse of the forbidden fruit. Dad eventually took notice of my brother’s excitement over the “fire” and had some quick words about leaving the fire alone to do its business. I think Mom just glared through the process and Grandma grinned, happy that she wasn’t having to do any explaining.
On a side note, we did get the entire brushpile burned down that day. My poor Dad on the other hand, probably lost a fortune (and I’m sure several fond memories) in those vintage Playboys.