Hoppy Toad Houses

I OFTEN THINK of the hoppy toad houses we used to make in a sandy, shady spot of our yard. We would bring a pail of water from the house to dampen the sand if it was not wet enough for us to mold. We used our bare feet for the house models. Mother let us shed our shoes and long underwear when warm weather set in, which was usually about the first of May.
 
Sometimes our older brother would come to play, and we would use his feet for a model. They were much larger than the rest of our feet and made a larger sand house. We would pile the sand over a foot, pat it down to the right firmness, and then cautiously admonish the one whose foot was modeled to withdraw it carefully so as not to mar the house design.
 
Frequently with our brother's assistance, we would make a village of houses connected by several tunnels that often developed into quite a maze of passages as they led from house to house. When the masterpiece was completed, we would watch for a toad to appear. Occasionally, a poor innocent-looking thing would wander over that way. We whooped with wild delight as we imagined that a tenant had come to stay a while in our hoppy toad house.
 
It was quite amazing how long these sand houses would stand, often for days and days or until some culprit would sneak in and stand on the structure or give it a blasting kick. Then we wailed loudly about the wanton destruction of our big hoppy toad house that had taken so long to build.
 
Years ago, big and little toads hopped over the yards at twilight feasting on insects. Boys delighted in catching a toad and holding it in their hands. We had heard the old saying that "if one wets on your hand, you'll grow warts." The very thought of warts covering one's hand was a great deterrent to keep girls from holding a toad, but boys never seemed to fear growing warts. They continued to catch them, stretch out their legs and inspect their poked-out eyes. Some boys were known to pocket them for use at an opportune time, usually when girls were present, in order to make them squeal and run in terror.

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