LINDEN, Texas - The year of 1942 was a good year for Imlay, Nev. The Second World War was raging, and it was peaceful in Imlay, except for a minor conflict that was ongoing. I was in the fifth grade, and my best buddy in town was Dale Austin, a tall sixth grader. Dale's folks were Fred and Ruth Austin, store clerks at Burke's mercantile store. Mrs. Austin was very protective of Dale, because he had a rheumatic heart. She constantly reminded him about that.

The store was two stories high, with two apartments upstairs. The Burkes and Austins lived in those apartments. We lived in a company house up the street from the Harmon's. Everyone in Imlay knows where the Harmons lived in 1942.

Dale was a fun-loving guy, and he had one major flaw. He was stronger than me, and delighted in wrestling me to the ground, and holding me there. That made me angry, but never angry enough to really make a fight out of it. We never once had a hitting, kicking, scratching, biting, eye gouging fight, just a friendly wrestling match, that I always lost. I decided to scheme and exact my revenge on my best buddy Dale. My plan was to use Malcolm as an instrument for my revenge.

Malcolm was as tall as Dale, and was about twenty pounds heavier. I knew Dale's weakness, and also Malcolm's. Every time I was alone with either one of them, I'd bring up the character flaw of the other one. After a few weeks, they knew both what would make the other one angry.

One day the scenario was perfect for my scheme to unravel. I mentioned Dale's sore spot, and Malcolm gladly got into the fray, just giving Dale fits about it. Dale was instant anger, and before I knew it, the fur was flying, and it wasn't friendly wrestling. It was a full blown fight, and I wanted no part in that fray. I made a beeline for the house.

Mom was starting supper, and made the comment about me being home so early. "You've never been home this early before, what's wrong?" she asked.

"Old Dale and Malcolm got into a big fight, and I didn't want to get involved," I said. I never knew who won that match, there was no onlookers, and they never talked about it to me. Dale never picked on me again, and we were three good friends after that.

Malcolm's father worked at the Tungsten mine, and shortly afterwards they moved away. Dale's folks moved to Davis, California, and after finishing high school, he started driving a local delivery truck. Still in his early twenties, he was found dead at the steering wheel of his truck, dead of heart failure. They said he was sitting in his truck eating his lunch when the heart attack happened. Dale was a great friend, wish I had known him as adults.

President Harry S. Truman once gave a short campaign speech from the back of his personal railroad car in Imlay, Nev., in 1948. He was a man of humor. After becoming President, he made this observation:

"I remember when I first became President. For the first six months, I wondered how I got here. For the next six months, I wondered how the rest of them got here."

Roy Bale can be reached via email