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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Over the river and through the woods.

Nickerson was always cold in the winter and snow was always very deep.  I do not know when winter started exactly.  It was some time after school started and before Thanksgiving.  We lived in a house out at 709 Strong Street.  I would like to say it was a "clap board" house, but I am not sure that was accurate.  I think it was called a "clap board" because somebody took boards and "clapped" together and then hammered in a nail for good riddance.  5 rooms and not a bathroom in any of them.  The front room had a pot belly stove that we built wood fires in for warmth.  The kitchen had a giant wood cook stove.

The front of our house faced east toward town and the back faced west toward the cemetery.  The front of the house was the "front room" and Dad's bedroom was on the south with 2 beds.  One was for him and the other was for all of us kids except the 2 little ones and mother.  The next 2 rooms were the dining room and on the right was Mom's bedroom.  The dining room had a built in cupboard and yellow glass dishes were there.  We had a whole set.  They may have come from the oatmeal and corn meal we bought.  I wish I had a set of those dishes today.  I would sell them and retire on a tropical island some where. 

The kitchen ran the whole length of the house on the back.  Well, that is not quite true.  The back door of the kitchen led to a back porch.  One side of the porch was for stacking wood and on the other side was a door that lay at about a 30 degree angle and covered the steps down to the dreaded cellar.  I am sorry, there is no pretty way to put this, but that cellar was the scariest place in the whole world and we lived about a quarter of a mile from the cemetery.  Mother stored sweet potatoes, apples, white potatoes and canned fruits and vegetables down there.  There were spiders down in that hell hole bigger than I was and deadly as shit.  Black widows loved that place.  One of the first lessons I learned was how to take a stick and poke a spider web.  Usually it just broke loose and floated off, but if it were the web of the deadly black widow, it was shiny and crackled when you pulled.  When that happened we were to get the hell out of wherever we were at.  Being a good daughter, I did just that.  It was called a black widow because after breeding and to provide nourishment  for the babies, mother black widow killed and ate her husband. Praying Mantis's do the same thing.  I guess the kid's dad was lucky, huh?

The kitchen was one step down and could be accessed either through the dining room or mom's bedroom.  The floor was concrete, which was one step above a dirt floor.  The wood cook stove took up the whole corner.  Of course we had a wood box, and an ash bucket there by the stove.  Very little cooking took place through the week.  Mostly we ate cereal, raw potatoes, apples, sweet potatoes or a bread sandwich.  Sundays we cooked.  We had either fried chicken or roast beef.  Supper was stuff like scrapple if mother was lucky enough to score a hogshead.  Fried carp was regular fare and apples in about any method were an everyday occurrence.  I ate raw apples, fried apples, baked apple, boiled apples, sliced apples, dehydrated apples and rehydrated apples.  I made up my mind that when I grew up I would never eat another damn cooked apple and I have managed to keep that vow.  Marriage vows were easily broken, but the vow to never eat a cooked apple has been respected and never broken.  For the record, I do not eat Carp either, but that is just because I never ran across one since mother used to seine for them in Nickerson.

I started this to tell you about how hard the winters were back home.  Our walls had cracks where the boards came together and some times when the wind blew snow came in.  Not very often because mother did paper the walls, but sometimes the paper cracked.  I can remember once when we drove to Hutchinson to have Thanksgiving with my half brother, Earl and his wife and kids.  It took us most of the day to go and come back.  The roads were very snowy, but the cars back in those days were very heavy and pretty much mashed the snow.  If we slid off the road, sooner or later someone would come along and help us out of our dilemma.  We were in turn supposed to do the same for anyone we found in a predicament like that.  That was the good thing about the good old day.  We helped each other.  The "haves and the have nots" were not so far apart as they are today.

The thing about going to Earl's was that he had a house with a furnace.  It was an actual furnace and blew hot air through a grate in the floor.  We were amazed at how hot the grate was and Gertie showed us one of the boys leg where he had been burned by it before he learned.  He had a series of little squares on his leg and we "oohed and aahed" at how lucky he was to be alive.  We then ate whatever we ate and after a little small talk dad "allowed as how we ought to get on the road for the long drive back."  ( I made the drive in later years and it took about 20 minutes and that was driving slow and gawking at everything."  Of course that was not in the old Studebaker now was it?)

Thanksgiving had been great that year.  I do need to tell you that back in those days at the family dinners the order of plates being filled was different than it is today.  First the men filled their plates.  Then the older kids.  Then the mothers fixed plates for the young kids.  At that time it was time for the women to get their food.  When the meal was over, the women folk washed the dishes, dried them and put them away.  Floors were swept and the kitchen "redded up" for the next meal.

I wonder if the kids today know how Thanksgiving came to be a national holiday?  It is this time of year that I pause to think about how the people who were living here in America and surviving for so many years welcomed the newcomers and brought them food.  Guess they kind of thought these people needed help to survive.  I am betting that if they had known then what they know now, there sure as hell would not be any Thanksgiving dinner on the horizon.  But here we are in 2017 in the land of the free because of the brave with racial bias and hate swirling like snowflakes looking for something to be thankful for and coming way short of the goal.

Damn, I wish I could go back to that little shack on Strong Street and get my tongue stuck to the flagpole just one more time.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The straw that broke the camels back.

I am a patient person.  Really!  Through my life I have tolerated things that went against my grain for the sake of  "peace in the marriage," "peace in the church,"  "peace in the job place, "peace on earth," and the whole nine yards.  I am generally a peace loving person, but when I get a belly full, I am done.  I tolerated my first husbands drinking and general bad behavior for 10 years and then I was done.  Kit and caboodle was out of there.  I lasted 6 years at my first job until the boss got under my skin one too many times, and out the door I went.  It took me 2 years to leave the church I attended for 15 years before I started attending First Church.  I was seeing a guy for the last 5 years, but then I reached the point where, "Nope!  not this time.  I deserve better than this."  So here I set reflecting on just what I am going to get sick and tired of next.

Mother taught me well, the lessons of life.  She always told me that "some day you will have a belly full of that and it will all change."  "Oh, but momma, I love him so." And when I came dragging in with my kids in tow, asking for a place to stay, she simply said, "So what was the straw that broke the camel's back?"  Reflecting back on that particular time in my life, I do not remember.  Like she said, I just got my belly full.  One indignity at a time, one day at a time, one word at a time and it all adds up to a load that I could no longer carry.

Same with the church.  I loved that church.  That church helped me over rough spots when I was first aware of the AIDS epidemic.  That church was there when we adopted our grandson.  And that church saw me through losing my husband.  But then one straw at a time, they changed direction and made choices that I thought were unfair.  I tried to right them, but the camel could not carry me through.  And so I left.

The jobs were always easy to walk away from, because I figure if I am working 8-9 hours a day in an environment where I am happy and feel appreciated, I can tolerate the customers and the demands, but I can not survive in an atmosphere of discontent.  Not happening.

As for the last boyfriend, he was just that.  Not going to try that again.  I can not blame him.  The personality that I perceived was not the personality that was his true inner self.  There are traits I must have in friends and I do not know if he changed or his true self came out, but either way, history has stepped in and that is water under the bridge.  It takes a helluvaman to walk through life with me.  And as the saying goes, "Many are called, but few are chosen."  (That one may have came from the Bible and not from Mother.)

So, now let's get back to looking for that camel I was talking about.  Right now, I am taking a hiatus from life as I know it.  I have been Don Quixote for too many years.  I have tilted my blade at Homophobics, AIDS, DACA, Homelessness, Poverty, the environment, politics, animal welfare, domestic violence, adoption, Black lives matter, all lives matter, Indigenous people, NFL kneeling,
and God only knows what else.  I have retired from Hospice, Posada, Save the Whales and am now setting at home and looking at the mess I have made of my life.

I have a house full of junk because I have ran through the gambit of ceramics, sewing, quilting, knitting, weaving, gardening, and any other hobby you can conceive.  I have every item ever needed to do any hobby you think could have been invented.  I am old.  I want a house I can live in that does not have 4 levels and a yard I can look at and not have to mow for 2 hours once a week.  My dogs are old.  My geese are old.  Cat: not so much.

I can close my eyes and see that little mother of mine looking down with her fingers over her mouth and the twinkle in her bright little hazel eyes and asking me,  "So what did you think was going to happen when you started all this?  And just which straw broke this camel's back?"

Thanks, mom!

Monday, November 13, 2017

I was born a truck driver.

Woke up this morning thinking of the first time I was ever behind the wheel of a vehicle and flashed back to when I was 14 years old and had been farmed out to a family where the mom and dad both worked and lived on a working farm.  They had 2 sons.  One was named Billy and the other may or may not have been named Donnie.  Little bit fuzzy on how old they were even.  I do know I was picked up on Sunday night and returned home on Saturday morning.  It was kind of nice though because the house had running water and I had my own little bed in a tiny room right under the attic eave.  May have been small, but it was a lot more than I had at home.  It did not have a door.  It had one at one time, but for some reason it did not have one anymore, but I did not care.  I was safe.  Hotter than hell, but safe.

The mother sold Stanley products so she was gone most of the day.  The father worked at a farm equipment store in Hutch as a salesman so he was also gone.  My job was to tend the boys, and the chickens, and watch the old sow which was due to drop her piggies soon.  And as luck would have it she decided to do that one day just before the mom and dad came home.  She also began to eat them!  Remember that I was 14 and probably weighed in at 50 pounds soaking wet.  I stood no chance against a 300-400 pound sow in the throes of birth, but I tried.  I grabbed a couple of the babies and put them in a box.  She was very mad and I could not get to any more.  The boys were terrified when dad came home.  He immediately got his gun and dispensed the sow to the promised land and by then a friend was there and the boys and I were sent inside.  There were a few piggies saved and I have blocked the rest of what happened from my mind and that is how I survived a lot of my life.  Sometimes not remembering is a good thing.

But that has nothing to do with my first driving experience, does it?

The time came that a harvest was upon the land.  This family owned land here and there so there was a need to move from field to field which worked well most of the time since the hired hands were there to do it.  I stayed at home with the boys and it was not until harvest was over and all the equipment needed to be brought home that I was pressed into service.  Everything was moved except the last piece which was a big grain hauling truck.  Not an 18 wheeler, (Thank God!) but way bigger than a pickup.  The wife explained to me how simple this would be to drive.  Needless to say, this was a stick shift.  I knew what a stick shift was and I knew what a clutch was and I knew what a brake was.

"You just push the clutch in, start the truck, let the clutch out slowly and it is in low gear so you just give it a little gas and coast the mile to the farm."  OK.  That sounded simple enough and after a couple times of killing it and restarting it, I was off.  And then I remembered the bridge and the left hand turn I had to take.  I sweated blood until I was across the bridge and headed down the straightaway.  The fact that I had made it across the bridge AND negotiated the left hand turn exhilarated me!  I just had to putt on down the road to the driveway and turn right, go a few yards and stop.  I prayed I would not miss the driveway because there was no way in hell I would ever get it in reverse.  I envisioned having to drive around a section (what land in the country is divided into) to get another chance, so I was ready when the drive came up and I whipped around the corner, steered to the center of the yard and turned the key to the off position.  Then and only then, did I let myself breathe a sigh of relief and pride welled up in my throat.  I had done it!  I had driven that big truck across a bridge and around 2 corners!  I began to dream of the day I could drive and have my own car.  And here I am.

Not to be boasting, as pride goeth before a fall and a haughty spirit before destruction,  but, here I am 60+ years later and I have a perfectly clean driving record.  No dings in my car from me.  The ones that are there were there when I got the car.  No tickets for anything.  I do have a lead foot at times, but don't we all?  I was pulled over one night long ago in Fowler, but I think the cop was thinking to put the moves on me since I was a woman presumably alone at 1:00 in the morning.  Sadly for him when he walked up to the door Bret and Shelly awoke and wanted to know what was going on now?  Did I mention, God is my co-pilot?

I did not own a car or a drivers license until I was 24 years old.  When I married Duane he just assumed I could drive, so I did.  I was stopped one night in Liberal, Kansas with a broken tail light and the officer told me I needed a license or next time I would get a ticket for not having one.  Getting a license back then was easy.  All I had to do was present myself and a vehicle at the drivers license place and show them I could drive.  That and $5.00 was all it took.  Luckily the car I was driving at the time had brakes and such.  I was not always so lucky.  We usually bought a vehicle at the sale for less than $50.00 and drove it till it gave up the ghost and was abandoned in someones yard.  I recall one time I had the 4 youngest and was going to see mother and the tail lights went out.  I knew it was a fuse and I knew we did not keep such things around, but luckily I smoked and cigarettes were in packs with tin foil!  I carefully fold up a piece of that and voila!  The tail lights came on.

(I learned lots of little tricks that would do me no good whatsoever later in life.  The way to seal a leak in your gas tank is with a bar of soap!  When the car vapor locks, just wait till it cools off and you can get another 10 or 20 miles down the road.  If you lock the keys in the trunk it is easier to use a pick axe to make a hole over the latch then it is to remove the back seat and put it back in.  And for God's sake do not forget your birth control pills when you are going with your husband to visit your mother in law!)  And that is my Words of Wisdom for today!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

This should bring back memories for someone.

I love old pictures and this one definitely qualifies as old.  This must have been taken in about 1942 or early 1943.

The boy on the left is Delbert Leroy Bartholomew, better known as "Jake".  He should be about 4 or 5 years old.  The girl on the right is Josephine Anne Walden Bartholomew.  And the sweet little toddler who is probably 2 years old give or take a few months, is none other than yours truly.  Isn't that cute how they have hold of me like they actually like me?  Either that or they were going to drag me off and torture me.  This picture was probably taken while we lived on the Ailmore place, wherever that was.  That would have been back when Mother went to "Club" whatever that was.  Seems as though back in those days when the women got together it was for "Club" and it entailed a lot of recipes, and helpful household hints to keep your man happy. 

And when women went to "Club" they always dressed in their finery.  See back in those days there was no wearing of the jeans, or slacks or anything except your house dress or your good dress or your church clothes.  Hats were common and women did not go to church without a hat.  They also wore gloves.  They attended the whole service with hat on head and gloved hands folded in their lap.  Men wore hats, but they were required to remove them when they entered.  It was a sign of respect.  Women showed respect by keeping them on and covering their hair which was their "crowning glory."  Do not ask me to explain the difference because I can not and I am just here to report what was what.

When Mother took us to club, we were expected to set quietly through the whole time.  No fidgeting and no wondering when we were going home and God help us if we had to pee.  Our bladders were empty when we left and full when we got home.  Club was held at a different ladies house every month.  One woman took notes so they could remember what they did last month.  I remember how excited mom was one time since a lady was going to come to our house and give all of us a haircut.  Well, let me tell you, that was my introduction to the "bowl haircut" which was exactly what the name implied.  She sorted through mother's bowl until she found just the right one.  It was then placed upside down over each head and the hair that stuck out under the bowl was cut off with her scissors which were in bad need of a sharpening.  That was a sad day and the next day we were ridiculed and laughed at during recess.  Mother never called upon her for assistance again and I for one was damn glad of it.

On the note of the scissors needing sharpened, you should know that back in those days the "sharpener man"  came around periodically to sharpen scissors, knives, axes and anything that needed a new edge.  That was what he did and he was very good at it.  And another regular visitor to the houses was the "tinker man".  Mother saved all her pans that had "sprung a leak" due to a tiny hole for the tinker man.  He had a wagon with a box on the back.  It was pulled by an old sad looking horse and I am not sure, but it seemed like the horse had an old straw hat on his head.  The sharpener man and the tinker man both had regular rounds, because they came about every 6 months and were always pretty close to the same time every 6 months.

The Watkins man and the Fuller Brush man also made regular visits to sell wares out the back of their wagons, and momma always had her list and her money in her hand.  Sometimes the dry goods man came and he had fabric and needles and stuff like that.  He was put out of business by  Mrs. Warrington, who opened the dry goods store up on main.  She also carried shoes and underwear and just about anything one could want.  I recall Mr. Warrington was very quiet and she conducted all the business, but I might be getting them mixed up with the people who had the dry goods store on Little House on the Prairie.  My mind tends to muddle a bit at my age.

Of course there were also men that made visits and set up on the corner in town and hawked their wares.  Usually these guys were selling some sort of miracle cure for one thing or another.  Those were known as "snake oil"  salesman.  One bottle of their product would cure almost any ailment you had and they guaranteed it.  Only problem was that as soon as they sold the last bottle, they were gone and would never be seen again.

You know, I can remember way back when I found a book I wanted to buy and I wrote a letter to the company explaining what I wanted and then printed my name and address and put the money in the envelope (As I recall it was 15 cents.)and mailed it off to the address in another state.  It took about 6 weeks, but finally here it came. I treasured that book, but more than that, I had faith in people I would never meet to send me what I wanted. Try that now!  They do not want money only a debit card or credit card.  I can order something today and have it tomorrow.  If I took a leaky pan to get it fixed and I found someone that I thought would do it, they would laugh me out of the place.  It is cheaper to buy new, then repair what we have.  I used to stop at the shoe shop on my way home to get my sole put back on or the tongue stitched back in my shoe.  Now I buy a new pair and the old ones are not even falling apart yet.

Well, I just wanted to prattle on a while tonight.  If my stories sometimes seem a bit discombobulated just take them with a grain of salt and remember that truth is sometimes stranger than fiction.

And with that I am off to dreamland.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

I will not live in fear is complete bullshit!

I am scared.  I will be the first to admit it.  I do not want to get shot at Walmart, or in my church, or at the school, or any where else.  I see the marchers that say they will not live in fear, but think about that.  When something like Texas, Las Vegas, Sandy Hook, and etc. etc. etc. happens I am afraid.  My government is doing nothing to allay my fears.  The NRA has a death grip on our congress.  Feed them money.  Money talks.  I have always heard that you can send an honest person to Washington, but you can not get that honest person back!

When one of these incidents (for want of a better word) occurs they begin to dig into the shooters past and lo! and behold! there were mistakes made in letting that idiot buy 15 AK 47's and 40,000 rounds of ammunition not to mention the arsenal in his bedroom that makes the local police look under armed.  I have a 22 pistol.  I keep it in my underwear drawer.  Does that make me feel safe?  No.  It would have to be a damn patient killer to wait for me to dig it out and find the safety and the clip and everything I need to shoot an intruder.

A wise man once told me " You never know anyone, you only know of them."  When we have an "incident" like this last one, then we dig into their past.  We first try to tie him (and so far they are him) to ISIS.  Rarely have any real ties to ISIS, but might leave a note saying it so no one will think he as just a lunatic.  Until then we did not give a shit who he was or what he thought.  Ah, but hindsight is so much better than foresight, isn't it?  The why's and the where's are all behind us.  Nothing can bring those people back.  Nothing can change the past.  Now is not the time to talk about it our pain is too fresh.  We must honor the dead.  We must hold a vigil.  Is that really what we want?  Not me.

I want to march to Washington D.C. and grab the congress by the throat and demand that they do something.  They work for ME!  Not the IRA!  When their second amendment right (and if you actually read that, they are off base on that.) infringes on MY right to the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness there has got to be a change. 

Australia has it right.  Get rid of the guns.  That sure cuts the mass murder rates down.  The NRA nuts,  (and I use that word to describe those Second amendment idiots that are demanding they have their "protection") are controlling my world.  What in the hell is our police force for?  At the Walmart shooting so many citizens pulled out their guns and waved them around that the investigation was stalled because they had no idea which gun waver was the shooter.  Did not stop the shooting; just screwed up the scene.

I am smart enough to know that my one small voice will get jack shit.  I am not, however, going to jump up and say "I will not live in fear," because, Buddy I am.  I get in my car and leave the safety of my home and God only knows if I will make it back.   I hesitate before I walk into a place where I know there are a lot of people because who knows what nut is right outside the door, or what I will find inside.

The following is taken from a report on the Internet.  Just a short read FYI.

American civilians are buying as many AK47s from Russia's top armory as the Russian military and police. 
The surge in sales of Russian assault rifles and shotguns are fuelled by firearms enthusiasts who are paranoid about the weapons being banned in the United States. 
The semiautomatic weapons, fitted with high-capacity magazines, are manufactured at Izhevsk Machinebuilding Plant, Russia's primary small arms factory.

Read more: 
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

When I read that the American people buy more of these guns then the Russian military and police, I get really scared.  That is just the AK 47.  Not all the other guns, just one model.  If that doesn't alarm you, I do not know what will.  So you guys/gals hold tight to those guns.  Do not let them take your gun because you never know when you are going to need to save your ass.  Mine, not so much.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

89 year old man gets his first erection in years!

Really!  Really?  I got this email today or yesterday and it absolutely amazed me.  My name is Lou therefore I must be a man.  And I must not be able to get it up.  Now this is not the first one of these ED letters I have gotten.  And quite frequently I am contacted by a sweet young thing who would love to share her "unique" pictures with me.  Hmmm.  What is the world coming to?

Many years back I signed up for one of those dating sights.  I would like to meet an older man for companionship, walks along the river, dining out, and maybe a movie.  I love county music and dancing would be a plus.  Must be a Christian.

That unleashed a torrent of men who wanted me to know that their "plumbing" still worked and that their stomach was flat.  We could meet for a drink at some hotel that had a bar.  The Library was out.
A walk was fine as long as it entailed walking to the car.  Country was alright as long as it included a dark road and no music. Dining out was fine, but home cooked was a lot better.  And church was definitely not on the table at all.

Maybe I am just too old and jaded for this life as it exists now.  I still want conversations.  I want walks.  I like people and I do not want to be looked up and down like a piece of prize meat at the butcher shop.  I want to know who you are, not what you are.  Are you honest and trustworthy or are you looking for a slam, bam, thank you mam?  Will you call me for no reason?  Will you surprise me with a doughnut and a cup of coffee?  A trip to Starbucks on a Tuesday afternoon and then check out the movies.  Will you unload my goose food and put it in the barrel?  And will you show up at church just because you want to see what it is like even though you are a Catholic?  That is what I am looking for.  Oh yeah. and if and when it snows I need the walk shoveled and a trail broken out to the goose pen.  But I gotta tell you, I am not holding out much hope for such a man to exist in this world I live in.  So I am not going to the dating sites, no, not me!

Living alone definitely has it's advantages.  Like right now, I am eating a breakfast burrito with green chile.  Breakfast for supper.  No salad for the digestive tract.  No iced tea.  No have to set at the table because that is the eating place.  No dessert because I want to eat up the rest of the Pina Colada ice cream I made a year ago.  I have moved by clocks back an hour and instead of going to bed at 9:30 I am going to bed at 8:30.  Which will be 9:30, or at least I think that is right.  Who knows.  I hate the damned time change almost as much as I hate cooked apples.

I wish I was a goose.  The geese go to bed at dark and get up at dawn.  They have no idea of what time it is.  All they have to worry about is eating their food before the other goose eats it up from them.  I have never been able to check the sleeping arrangement in the goose house so I am not sure who sleeps beside who.  Oh, and there is another joy for remaining alone... I can sleep on either side of the bed.  I always sleep on the side closest to the door, but I could sleep on the other side if I so choose.  Hell, I could even sleep with my head at the bottom of the bed, or I could sleep downstairs.  Or on the couch.  The possibilities are endless!

My house phone is not working and a quick check with repair service tells me it is not going to work for a couple days.  Damn!  I wonder if they will understand when I deduct 2 days off the bill.    Ok, I am having dessert.  It is Carmel popcorn.  The house is very quiet.  The cat has snuck onto my lap making typing rather awkward, but at least she is quiet.  See if I could find a man this good, I would be all over that, but it ain't happening so I think I will go to bed now.  So if my clock says 6:30 now, a few minutes ago it was 7:30 and my body is thinking it is 8:30 or maybe  9:30.  I know one thing and that is about the only thing a man could do for me at this point in my life is tell me what time it is and why in the hell do we have to change it every time I figure out what time it is!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

My dad loved his horses; us kids, not so much.

As far back as I can remember my dad had horses.  He used them for farming.  They were what pulled the plow, and the harrow , as well as the hay rack and the buckboard.  Hank Windiate had one old horse and he used it to pull the wagon he used as his means of transportation.  Every morning Hank would harness that poor old bag of bones and hook it to the wagon.  I know there is a name for that kind of wagon, but I forget what it was.  Hank was paralyzed on one side of his body, but he could still drag himself up over the wheel and onto the spring board seat and off to town he went.  I think all the old farts went up and set on a bench that was right outside the jail and watched the world go by.

Now the jail in itself was another story.  It was very small.  No!  Smaller than that.  It was probably about 10' x 10'.  I heard that it could hold 4 prisoners, but I found that hard to believe.  Maybe they slept standing up.  I asked Dad once if there had ever been a prisoner in their and of course he gave me some bullshit story about a bank robber or some such nonsense.  I know I never seen any sign of a prisoner.  I did hear all the old men arguing one day because some one had spit on the street and that was just so disrespectful and that man should be put in the jail.  The sheriff would take care of it when he came back.  No one was real sure where the sheriff had gone.  They were not even sure who the sheriff was, but they were all pretty sure he would come back and lock that man up, whoever he was.

But this is not about the sheriff now, is it?  No.  It is about my Dad's horses.  When we were still on the Stroh place he had bought us kids a Shetland Pony.  I am pretty sure he was drunk when he did that and I am pretty sure Mother pointed out to him that he was not very smart if he thought for one minute that he could go into town and do "whatever" and then come dragging a pony home and she would overlook his indiscretion.  I had to take her side in that one, especially after we got a good look at our new pony.  It was little, not like the big horses that we wanted to ride in the parade.  He was also furry.  He was kind of cute looking out the back door at him clear across the yard standing there all alone.  Looks are certainly deceiving!

My brother, being the oldest and bravest decided he would ride Star first.  He got the saddle and walked toward the horse.  Holy Mary, Mother of God!  I swear that horse had fire coming out his eyes and nose both.  Jake hesitated and Star began to emit sounds that only the Devil in Hell below could identify.  He began to rear up and kick backwards, and forwards and I swear that beast had 8 legs.  At that point Jake dropped the saddle and lunged on his back to ride him bareback.  With his hands wound in his mane he looked towards Heaven and smiled a very wide smile which was immediately followed by Star reversing directions twice causing Jake to do a half backward, followed by a full forward and then a side dismount.  Star turned to face us as if to ask who was next.  There were no takers.  About the only action Star got after that was for us to lead him around the yard and we could pet him, but make no mistake, he was not going to be ridden by any man, woman or child.

Little note here on the side.  My brother had a scar on his right cheek.  He had Star to thank for that. Well actually he had himself to thank for that.  Jake and some of his little friends were playing in the yard and they bet each other that they could sneak up on Star and "goose him".  Jake went first.  He also went last because at the same time Jake reached his rear end, Star kicked backwards at the unseen intruder and Jake went clear across the fence and was immediately rushed to the hospital in Hutchinson to get his face put back on.  After that he gave Star a wide berth.

When dad bought horses they were always a "matched pair."  A matched pair was some sort of big deal to the men who had a matched pair.  The last matched pair my dad ever owned was bought about the time we left the Stroh place.  In my 7 year old mind I seem to recall that this was a pair of "Strawberry Roans."  Not sure how to spell that, but I can still see them in my mind.  They were strawberry which meant that were sort of red.  Mostly off white with a kind of pink sheen and roan because of the spots.  Their tails were blondish red and dad spent many hours braiding the tails and putting a ribbon in the braids.

(Did I ever mention that my dad was in World War 1 and served in the Cavalry and his job was to take care of the horses.  He had a hole in one of his arms where he had been bitten by a horse.  I never attempted that horse riding business because I did not want no damned horse trying to eat me.)

I used to think my dad was mean, but time has softened my memories of him and I now see him as a sad little soul.  He was 30 years older then my mom and so I think kids were just something that had happened to him, because he certainly did not have paternal feelings towards any of us, although in later years he did dote on my sister Mary.  And when I had my first baby, Debbie he actually touched her and held her.  She is the only one I have a picture of with him.

Looking back I think he brushed his horses on a daily basis and braided their tails as an act of love. He was always tender with them, but if they did not obey when he "hee'd or haw'd" he was not above picking up a single tree, or whip or what ever was handy and beating them into submission.  Lord the things we did back then would get a man hung now days. I think maybe in my little mind I was afraid he would do the same to me.  He was always just a silent man around the house and we walked lightly.

When Star was gone, the Strawberry Roans were gone and Danny was gone there was no reason to stay in Nickerson.  Mother had gone to Salt City Business College and learned to be a bookkeeper/secretary.  She then found a job in Hutchinson and we moved there.  Dad used to drive to Nickerson every day to hang out at the pool hall there and play dominoes with his friends.  I guess he worked there.  I guess he never really left Nickerson either.

  I guess Hutchinson was too much of a change for me because I skipped school most of the time and finally dropped out completely.  I got a job washing dishes at Skaets Steak Shop.  Then I met and married my first husband.  Mom went to work there as did my sister Donna.  When I left my husband I returned to work at Skaets as a waitress until I opened my own restaurant.  Dorothy worked there.   And now my sister owns it.  A long time ago.

Lot of water under the bridge, so to speak.