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Down on the farm

Down on the farm
Out of the woods.

Friday, November 16, 2012


I walked to school, rode my bike, roller skated, pulled and was pulled in my little wooden wagon. My mother and I walked to the grocery store and we pulled the thisas and thatas home in that same wagon. We visited neighbors, crossed at the corners, went to the library, ran to the drug store, strolled to the movie theater, called in at the church, relatively safe from passing trucks, cars and buses. On the sidewalks we waited for our best friend to come out to play, set up a hopscotch game, played jacks and jumped rope. We played mumbly peg and hide and seek on the grass, but kick the can was played on the sidewalk. During the war we tied cans to our shoes and stomped up and down the sidewalks until the cans were smooshed flat for metal recycling collection. When it snowed the first job of every kid over the age of 6 was to shovel the sidewalk. It was not just to get to school, or so our moms had dry feet on the way to the store, it was so our dads could catch the bus to work without catching cold. Everyone knew that to go all day with wet feet ended badly. Probably with "P-new-mon-ya"...and hafta call the doctor, a fate worse than death, which would end with a shot at the least as well as being asked who it was that DIDN'T clear the snow off the walk. Sidewalk defined our neighborhoods. This side was ours, that side was theirs. Yes, there were sidewalks on BOTH sides of the street. Little old ladies guarded their blocks jealously and vigorously. The sidewalks were safe with them on duty. They did not hesitate to dress down a bully, or dress a wounded shin for that matter. They knew where we lived, where we went to school, they knew our mothers, and often our grandmothers and would call them if need be. And if "need be" was called for, you probably would get a paddling when you got home. Sometimes the little old ladies were little old men. It really didn't matter, and as much as we fussed about the "nosey parkers" watching from behind their curtains, we knew nothing really bad could happen with them on duty. Watched sidewalks were just part of the upside of small town living.


     An ancient and huge maple tree shaded the bathroom window from the sun, but when the dark winds blew, the limbs knocked and scratched like a boogeyman looking for a way in.
      The storm was sending leaves skirling, and witches flying. I ran through the big ol' dark dining room and the cavernous dark living room, past the gaping, chunk toothed mouth of the stone fireplace and into my parents' bedroom.
      Daddy was holding Mama close, standing at the window overlooking the alley that ran between  our house and the loading dock at the rear of the Missouri Farmers' Association or MFA. Safe and dry, we watched the storm pitch it's fit.
     The loading dock, as always, was lit up waiting for late and early milk drop off, live caged poultry arrivals, and miscellaneous feed, seed and fertilizer business. The rain made waves across the windows, obscuring the truck pulled up to the dock. It wobbled in the sheeting water, blurbing up there and bluping out here.  Shades moved from dock to truck and back again, then closed the truck up and drove off into the storm, Daddy said a little prayer for their safety on such a night, and with the calming of the storm, we returned to bed.
     The next morning, Mama was still making the coffee when Daddy answered the knock at the door. At the preacher's house we expected visitors both early and late, but it wasn't usually the sheriff.  Someone had broken into the MFA, wheeled the safe out onto the dock and loaded it into a truck. The preacher's family didn't need the story to dine out on, but it didn't hurt.
     The safe was discovered 3 days later on a rural road. It was basically intact, but with signs of applied hammers and chisels and such. All that work, in all that rain, and all that frustration, just to end up as one of God's littls jokes.
     The thieves my father blessed on their way were never found. Who says prayer isn't powerful?

Friday, January 27, 2012

Back in the Day: The Fancy Lady's Shoes

Back in the Day: The Fancy Lady's Shoes Pin It

The Fancy Lady's Shoes

Grandpa Campbell was, among other things, a shoemaker. He worked in a shoe repair shop right across the street from where he and Grandma lived, just off the Court House Square in Union, MO. When I was there, Grandma and I would take him his lunch, a tin of sardines and a sleeve of soda crackers. It was never different and it must have been what he wanted as no food that Grandpa didn't like would appear in that house.
One day while they sorted out the lunch I found at the bottom of a dark dusty bin an old pair of leather high button shoes in a bright red and yellow spatter pattern. I had never seen such things in my life! I coveted those shoes even more than the mary janes my mother would not allow me to wear. (Bad for my feet, she said.)
To my astonishment those shoes came home with Grandpa one night and were packed away in my suitcase to take home.
Who was the "lady" who brought them in to be repaired and never came back? I was a child during WWII and such shoes had not been worn for 40 or more years, at least by a fancy lady! Where is the back story when you want it?