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OPINION

WILDER'S WHOLE WORLD: Lessons learned in childhood still relate

By Dwayne Wilder
Special to the Herald Democrat
Dwayne Wilder

Right before my family moved to Sherman, we lived in a Dallas suburb for three years. It was the mid-1960s – and I mean the ‘middle’ as in 1965 – when my parents bought a house in a nondescript neighborhood next to a huge field. Yeah, the town was growing outward and we were in on the beginning as ‘the suburbs’ were all the rage back then.

At that time, there were only three of us siblings – the other two would be born while we lived there. We integrated ourselves into the neighborhood community of kids, almost all our ages. There had to be 30 of us or so; not all could be around all the time, but we kept a good group going most days. I started school and began learning about life and how things worked especially when dealing with others. There were lessons learned which I still cling to now some 55 years later.

We were humming along just fine when one day another family moved into our neighborhood. I recall that it didn’t happen as much being a year after we moved there; most of the houses were occupied by then and we were all a neighborhood for better or worse by 1966. This kid, this boy, joined our group, and we could see things were going to be different.

For as long as we could remember, everyone else just came in and melted into the group — no hassles, no demands and certainly no threats. We all just wanted to play and be friends. What else did a bunch of five and six year olds want?! This new boy shows up and begins to tell us what he wants and what we need to do.

I didn’t like it. 

And, I could tell most others didn’t either, but we weren’t going to rock the boat and possibly destroy what we had going; what we had built in a short time.

I don’t think he ever threatened physical violence, but he implied it quite often. I wasn’t a fighter, rather preferring to compromise and work through problems. This kid would have none of that. It was his way or the highway. We could see newly built Interstate Highway 35 from some points of the neighborhood; and, it looked scary. So, mostly it was his way from then on.

The way we used to do things was supplanted with how he wanted things. Some pushed back, but mostly to no avail. I don’t think I ever said anything against him. I had already gotten hit and pushed down enough to know that I didn’t like that, so I simply went along as did most of the gang. Nothing was earth shattering, but we didn’t have any say in how our neighborhood group operated. That weighed on our minds even at that young age; at least, it did mine.

Soon, other dynamics came into being.

Others moved in and some moved away. the months passed. One day, we could feel That things were different. There were now one or two new kids who were a little older and, perhaps had a mandate, to stand up to that original kid. Boy, he was mad!

He gave us the silent treatment; and generally acted as if he was still in charge of the group. But, everyone knew that he was done. No, he didn’t have to move away, but he did have to take his new place as one of us down in the masses, so to speak. It was then that we realized he was just a bully at heart, not caring about us really, only himself. It was eye-opening for sure!

I remember he tried all sorts of tricks to take control back to the way he wanted it, but we just refused and moved on by following the new guys. I mean , what could he do? It was like 30 to 1. He would be screaming at us and we simply told him to go back home! I think he was originally from Florida…

I hadn’t thought much about this episode in my life over the years if at all, but for some reason, it came back to me now. I can see the important lessons that I learned about personal integrity and interpersonal relationships during those formative years. I guess lessons learned in our youth can happen anywhere from my old tract house in the suburbs to huge mansions uptown, even all the way to the White House…

Dwayne Wilder is a Sherman native who currently lives in Denison. Wilder’s Whole World is his commentary about life in Texoma and the world. Wilder can be reached at cmandad17@gmail.com. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of Texoma Marketing and Media Group.