Last week’s spring-like temperatures made Forest Park, in the words of E.E. Cummings, “mud-luscious” and “puddle-wonderful.” For five-year-old Curtis Horras, mud and puddles are irresistible.
Curtis is one of those throwback kids, who prefer outdoor adventure to indoor entertainment. He and his sisters played for days in the snow piles. Now that the mounds had melted, his “Grammy”, Toni Horras, was taking them to The Park.
Curtis raced ahead down the sidewalk on his two-wheeler. As he later said, “Riding my bike through the puddles was awesome.” Grammy followed behind with the double-stroller containing Curtis’ younger sisters, Arianna and Janiah.
The junior explorer surveyed the soccer field and the skateboard park but both were locked. Then he headed for the ball fields. Curtis spotted a league ball sitting in the center of one of the infields and went for it. He was soon struggling to walk, as the mud sucked at his snow boots. Finally, he became completely stuck.
“I sunk all the way,” Curtis said, showing that the mud reached halfway up his shin. “I yelled, ‘Help Grammy’ but she wouldn’t even come.” In fairness to Grammy, it was the first day she hadn’t worn boots in months and her sensible shoes would have come right off.
Curtis’ sisters voiced their concern that, “Bubby was stuck in mud.” He remained a prisoner for twenty minutes. Finally, a Park maintenance worker spotted the problem and summoned help. His co-workers, John Boy and Larry Buckley, sped to the scene in their golf cart.
“The kid was stuck right on the pitcher’s mound,” Larry recalled, “I thought he’d be crying, or panicking but he was laughing.” Larry, of course, had no idea Curtis had been in worse scrapes. Last spring, he got stuck in a tree and a man with a ladder had to free him.
Larry donned fireman boots but even these threatened to come off with every step. He reached Curtis, pulled him out of his boots and carried him to the cart. After covering Curtis in a blanket, John Boy drove him home on the cart. “The cart was fast,” a wide-eyed Curtis recalled.
Grammy captured the dramatic escape on her camera phone. When she showed the pictures to Curtis’ mom, Nicole, Curtis pointed to Larry and said, “That’s my rescue hero.” The little guy was so drained by the ordeal; he ate three fried eggs, before going off to Junior Kindergarten at Garfield.
As for the treacherous quicksand conditions at The Park, Larry and John didn’t think it would be necessary to post signs warning the public. After all, in the 75-year history of The Park, this was the first mud-rescue anyone could remember. As for the baseball Curtis was hunting, John said he’d give it to him, once it emerges from the muck.
John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries.