I was a child soldier in the Great Apple War. That’s neither a boast nor a confession, visit this site just a simple statement of fact.
The conflict erupted, as so many conflicts have, out of the summer vacation boredom experienced by a contentious bunch of eleven year olds during a time when “adult supervision” meant and a “be home for dinner at five” and the occasional cuff on the ear for “backtalking.” The timelost and trivial incident which triggered the war was irrelevant. What mattered is that we had found something to do.
Factions solidified, strategies were formed, and armaments were stockpiled — the latter supplied by North Woburn’s many wild apple trees whose wormy, misshapen fruit was perfect in terms of abundance and throwability. Firm enough to sting yet soft enough not to leave any incrimimating bruises, they were the ideal weapon.
The initial battles were low intensity affairs, mostly ambushes inflicted against lone stragglers or enemy supply parties. From backyard basecamps we emerged to mobilize across a network of forts and observation posts. I was there when Fort Turdhole fell beneath a relentless rain of green projectiles and I had the honor of participating in the counter offensive which reclaimed it for our side. I was also the one who helped our forces achieve a technological edge when — inspired by the “potato masher” grenades used by my OpFor army men — I figured out that apples launched via sticks flew further and hit harder than those flung by hand.
The war dragged on for weeks with neither side achieving anything approximating victory. The enemy sent out peace feelers. We agreed to meet and discuss terms at a specified time in the sandpit beneath Tomato Hill. The enemy army arrived unarmed, and thus totally unprepared for the merciless barrage we hurled down upon them from the surrounding high ground. The tears were bitter, but the victory was so, so sweet.
A formal end to the conflict was decreed by Laurie Johnson’s angry dad, who was understandably upset after his daughter was beaned by a hunk of roofing tile hurled by our side’s overeager wild card. (This mandated truce did not sit well with the wild card, who manifested his displeasure by swiping Mr. Jonson’s Christmas lights, which were hung as a trophy in his Ozzy-postered bedroom.)
By the time it was over, the neighborhood apple trees had been stripped of all fruit and a large section of North Woburn stank of rancid cider. When I entered sixth grade a few weeks later, I was slightly older, a half inch taller, and still a stupid kid.