Box 250 etc.

The eldest son was standard  bearer for a long line of children who worked hard at home and also at part-time jobs. This son was not yet finished high-school when we moved to the farmhouse thus there were many activities in which he was involved.  Oh! gosh:  band, football, swimming and girls. But slipping into my mind is a friend of  our eldest, who had a crocodile as a pet.  It was not long before this kid’s mom banished the creature from their suburban home.  My eldest advocated for his friend to have the crocodile (small one) stay at our farm. The baby creature grew to be quite a nasty.  hissing, tail whipping guest.  A tousle ensued one day between croc and mom.  Guess who won?  That crocodile was behind bars of some kind until the next train out of Dodge.  The train was a little black used V W Bug that  son of this paragraph  was able to purchase.  He loved that car that kept him out until after dark often.  One night a large group of  ladies came  from the City to play Pinochle. In the middle of a room full of chattering ladies, the son of this paragraph, wandered into the living-room quite dazed.  He drew me aside and quietly  told me that he had just fallen into a deep hole.  I was patronizing at first but he  explained to me that it was deeper than his height.  “Mom, I just walked into into it because it was dark and I did not see it.”  We went outside together and sure enough there, right outside the house was the unknowable hole that the’ head of our homesteading team’ had dug.  This son saved some poor unaware Pinochle lady a disastrous fall. True, our homesteading leader,  was a single minded man driving to finish his dusk to dawn chosen tasks.  Also, I’m remembering that the, son of this paragraph, often played games on the lawn with his siblings and often  took telescope out late at night to view the stars. Those children were all star seekers.  Soon this eldest son  was off to California where he earned his MBA,  followed eventually by an Internationale business career that spanned most of Asia and some of Europe.  It was in Peru that he and his beautiful  wife met and married.  This lucky mother  was invited to experience some of their adventures.  So much more to tell  but grant me leave to only share snippets.

The second son, eighteen months younger, was reluctant to lend himself to the country life. He missed his life in the suburbs and neither he nor his friends were so portable.   He liked things neat and attractive. So after absorbing the idea that this was his ‘place in the sun’ for his while, he began to make friends in the farm boys in the neighborhood.  Wow!  I think it might be a British understatement but he sought whopping good times which  have never been recounted to me and probably with good reason.  One day the son of this paragraph came to me with a plan of his which, by the way, involved the farm boy neighbors.  Son of this paragraph told me he intended to go West, Oklahoma or Idaho (I don’t remember which) for the summer and work on some huge spreads, operating a giant Combine. He told me he could make a good deal of money and just for a summer of work.  He was in earnest.  He could taste going with the farm boys.  There was just one hitch. The men from out West who were recruiting long distance expected full approval from a parent.  I telephoned “Out West” and had a comprehensive talk with the Boss who asked pointed questions about how long this boy had farmed. …what kind of farming did we do, etc.etc.etc.  By the time the long distant conversation was over, it was clear that the Boss had relieved me of any decision making.  He said that he’d been doing the hiring for years and this was not ‘a fit’ that would be good for your boy.  He continued the conversation, sharing that it was back breaking work and only those exposed to farm-hand work could survive.  I so much agreed because this son was a thinker and a poet.  The , boy of this paragraph, survived his displacement to farm country and would grow up to be successful in another field.  Well, by his own boot-straps- he sprang out of the farmhouse to begin his journey of becoming a very successful business man of greater than average status. Graduated, Suma Cum Laude from college and, Magna Cum Laude from law school where he was Head of Law Review and invited into the coveted, Order of the Coif, which is a National honorary society for law -the history of  which  goes back to early England.

Everybody knew that daughter #1 wanted a horse. We heard the childlike nagging ‘may I pleeeeze have a horse’ refrain for years.  When she was thirteen, the opportunity presented itself.  There was an old gent not too far away who dealt in horses.  He was a great deal smarter than we about matters equestrian and particularly cagey about horse flesh. Dad really liked the idea and the price was right. The heart of the little girl who said pleeeeze for so many years was in an enchanted place. Perfect right? Not really.  The horse  was not a Gelding and he had a gimp.  The horse was rather a Stallion of 17 hands.  A farmer neighbor noticed how the horse reared up with his hoofs tucked in ready to duke it out with anyone who annoyed him.   The dad was angry.  The mom was feeling irresponsible for allowing this to happen.  That horse could have killed the daughter of this paragraph. Well, we had the horse gelded and horse turned out to be a fine animal and lost his gimp.  The horse and the girl bonded quickly.  One day, the girl braided the horse’s mane and he hid–it would seem– out of embarrassment (ask, Jung, I cannot explain it) .  Every now and then, he would peek around the stall but if any one looked he would swiftly pull back out of sight. Then there was the night of high drama when  when the girl of this paragraph  was away working on a Dude Ranch out west which her uncle had arranged for her.  Not because he was a rancher but rather to provide her with yet another dream  To go on: by some mystery, the horse escaped his stall  along with horses that we were renting space to.  We awakened to the sound of clip/clop fading away down the road out of ear shot.  We shot out of bed to confront our worst fear.  All the horses were gone. It  was the middle of the night.  Duties were handed out and mine was to  call the Police.  This was serious.  The horses who set out over the fields might destroy crops. The horses on the road could have hurt humans or themselves. Pretty soon I answered the phone to be confronted on the other end of the line by our Dutch neighbor who said ,.”Vell, I’m seein the cop light on da car and I’m havin nose problems.”   Yes, farmers are interdependent and it was natural for the neighbors to care.  It was, however, quite charming.  Girl of this paragraph grew to maturity and  eventually moved on to comfortably high but challenging heights.

The boy of this paragraph was the third son.  He was a quiet fellow who did not get into mischief but he did follow his mind out to experimental adventures.  Once he concocted some kind of light that could be powered without electricity to use in the vineyard at night.  It was complex.  He also would take his recorder around the neighborhood and interview persons.  They liked it.  He was good at it and very much like a radio announcer. On rare occasions, he used that deep mellifluous voice while playing the guitar that he taught himself to entertain us. The boy of this paragraph went into the Air-force and ultimately to Iceland where  he hiked across the expanse of Iceland with his brother of the first paragraph. On his arrival back to the farmhouse, he immediately went upstairs and turned on the TV show, Walton’s Mountain.  This fellow went to a local college and met the girl of his dreams. Last time I looked at my watch, she is still the girl of his dreams. This now man had in his lifetime so far bridged in a serious way both the world of Religious leadership  and the world of Professional  Correction.  Two balancing dynamics that few of us experience.

This girl child was quiet and demure.  She is the fifth child but the second girl.  Beneath her quiet manner was a strong person who spent her young life simply deciding and then doing.  This girl was dad’s favorite garden girl because of her natural bent to get the job done.  None of the rest of us could match her long staying weeding triumphs.  She liked Powder Puff Football until that was curtailed by having expensive braces.  She was a State Champion runner.  So many fine young boys liked her but as said before:  she thought and decided  about all things even boys.   She was chosen to go with Eisenhower’s, People to People Program. We helped financially but this child had to borrow to make up the difference in order to go. She left a chosen boy-friend behind who was never going to let her go nor was his family who called Europe to speak with this ‘away in Europe” child to make it clear that they wanted her back at their store working and  back at their dinner table on Sundays across from their son.This child’s oft repeated signature remark was–if you make your bed as soon as you get up, everything else seems to work better. This quiet girl child became the strong woman who coordinated huge events and even manages an Airport in a place we will not disclose.

That fourth son  was the apple of everybody’s eye even amongst his siblings  The first memory of the boy of this paragraph for mom  was spotting this five year old  at the top of a giant tree that was much taller than the huge house or somewhere high in the rafters of the barn.  He was dauntless.This boy liked to help his Dad and he liked to bike ride with his Mom.  But at his very soul he was a cross between stability and adventure.  For a stretch of years he endeared himself at a business in a near ‘village like’ community, sitting for hours figuring out wiring and fixing and constructing all things tin of the gift variety..  It was a gift shop but, boy of this paragraph, had his own workshop area in the back of the Shoppe.   The day came when the, boy of this paragraph grew to manhood and was given the opportunity to purchase this very popular shop.  The owners saw this as a perfect fit but the asking price was not a fit.   Mr. Charm of this paragraph, eventually started his own business and finally [climbed the  bean stalk] all the way to Chicago where he met the girl we would all adore. Off they go; continuing to spread their wings.  It looks like a well thought out but substantial life adventure.  Great to watch.

Baby girl was so young and so isolated without playmates at the farmhouse that she was enrolled in a very pleasant pre-school where they all wore itsy bitsy Blazers. Because the girl of this paragraph was left to her own devices she apparently learned to dream up stories.  One day at “show and tell” at said pre-school, the child of this paragraph, told the class that her father had a tooth-ache and the dentist pulled out all his teeth.   This was met with tiny little sighs of empathy from her classmates and a phone call from teachers to see how the dad was doing.  This dad had the best set of choppers in the family but when “show and tell” calls, one rises to the occasion. As a little girl, this child spent most of her time following closely any older person around or snuggling up close to others in the family even if they were not paying any attention to her and was never happier than when she was included in a long, long bike rides.  I know this because she wrote little thank you notes for having been allowed to ride along with us on our bike rides. These bike rides were long and her very little bike created a challenge for her little legs in keeping up with the rest of us.  There never was a happier little peddler. The child of this paragraph offered a Priest who was visiting (a friend of the child of the second paragraph) to go on a short bike ride with her.  Well, he was thin and scholarly and was not privy to hand breaks.  You know the rest but the Priest managed to recover from  his fall in time to say Mass in our Dining Room before dinner. The child of this paragraph has heroic qualities– meaning she selflessly takes risks to save the day but has always been a long term friend and a steady “you can count on” employee.  In fact it would be difficult to gather the words to espress the smarts, the creativity, the mothering talents and the goodness of the child of this paragraph.

Many Masses were offered in that farmhouse over those early years since my sister and her family brought their friend, the good Father, who said Mass, particularly at Christmas time.  Once many Priests, Nuns and devoted laymen  came to the farmhouse to take part in a Reunion of a the pilgrimage to Israel that we shared in 1978. The children hob-nobbled with Monsignors quite naturally that day.

You know, our German Sheppard, was strong and often unpleasant to all but the father whom he loved.  After a frightening  incident, we agreed to send this physically magnificent dog to Canine Security, a private Police Dog training outfit.  What a relief until one fine day the organization called to say that the dog was untrainable and that we needed to take him back. An unwanted chapter was reopened.   That night, the father was standing next to  the large above ground pool with his arm stretched across the top.  The father shouted dog’s name and  dog thinking it was a wall jumped over his wall and landed in a deep pool of water. This dog was genuinely shocked. All of us who witnessed this,  ahem, mistake, could not stop laughing.  What a great payback to that nasty dog.  Further measures were devised to preserve this dog and send him far away.  Yes!  We put an ad in the Philadelphia papers and what do you know a swift phone call came. The caller said he was a part-time Minister and needed a dog to protect a facility he owned.  It is hard to describe our open mouths when the caller presented himself in his dusty old car and really dirty finger nails.  This was as rough  man as some  might remember. The man wanted a dog to guard his used car lot in Philadelphia.  A moment to remember is the living  testament that true love does exist.  We sold dog to man.  Dog looked at rugged man and rugged man looked at dog.  Dog jumped into the front seat of the man’s vehicle and we watched in wonder as the dog licked the man’s neck as they drove down the long lane and off into the sunset.

to be con’t

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~ by mosswood on April 27, 2012.

3 Responses to “Box 250 etc.”

  1. I am in love with these stories. More please!!

  2. Mom,
    I’m so glad you’re writing. I love what you’ve written. Lot’s of wonderful memories and insights, all so well composed. Keep it up please!!!

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