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Thursday, March 9, 2017

Racoons are for petting, or eating depending upon your need at the time!

Well, Raccoons are not really for petting, but I just thought I would say that!  Those suckers have some very sharp teeth and can pretty much take care of themselves.  I am remembering back to 1962 when Earl and I were living in Glasco, Kansas in a farm house on the edge of town.  Debbie was a very tiny baby and Patty was conceived but not hatched yet.
 
We were itinerant tree trimmers which meant we moved into an area and trimmed trees until the work ran out and then we moved to the next town.  That was easier than actually building a business and establishing a home.  Most tree trimmers at that time were known as "fly by night", but not us.  The fly by night guys would come into a town for a few days and do a couple high dollar jobs and then move on to the next likely looking place.  We actually had an address and lived in the community.  Well, for 30 days or whenever the rent came due anyway.  But back to the story.

Glasco is straight up US 81 out of Hutchinson, close to Concordia and about 60 miles from Nebraska.  I looked that up on the Atlas, so I know that is right.  I do not know how long we lived there, but some of my memories are pretty vivid.  One of our workers killed a rattlesnake on the back porch right by the door.  It was night and had I opened the door he would have been inside.  Never knew snakes traveled at night, but very glad it was Pete that found him and not me!

The compound consisted of Earl, Debbie and me.  Earl's brother Larry, his wife and daughter.  Two more brother's, Delvin and Virgil.  And lastly Pete somebody and his wife whose name I forget and a couple of thier kids.  I have no idea where we all slept, but as I recall there were a couple mobile homes or campers involved.  And dogs!  Actually they were " 'Coon dogs".  The guys had struck up a friendship with a couple in another town who raised and hunted with them.  Ah!  The thrill of the hunt!

For those of you who have never been exposed to that element of life, you are in for a surprise!  Any extra money we came across was spent to buy the best dogs that Bill and Dorothy had to offer.  There were a couple Black and Tans,  a couple Blue ticks, a  Redbone and a Blood hound.  It was Virgil's job to care for the dogs and it was a full time job.  Ah, but night was hunting time.

Once they brought home enough honey to sink a battle ship.  Every deal with raw honey?  Now there is a blog unto itself.  It had to be heated very slowly and then strained into containers of which we had none and then given away because one human can only hold so much honey!  Fortuneately there were grapes on the river about that time so of course making wine was also on the agenda.  That was set in the cellar which was located in the yard in the vicinity of the back door.  We were not allowed to go down there, but being the free spirit's we were, I gathered up the sisters in law and we ventured into the forbidden territory.  We tasted the fruits of the boys labor and pronounced them "horrible."

That night we could not find my little dog.  We searched every where and had given up the doggie as lost when Earl decided to check on the wine process.  Lo and behold!  The little doggie was in the cellar.  I am not sure I ever convinced that man that my dog had actually managed to get himself into the cellar, but you must remember my first husband drank a lot and as such had a kind of flawed reasoning.  (That was back in the days when I was not above lying to save my ass!)

Back to the eating of the Racoon.  As with all "hunter-gatherers" since the beginning of time, a racoon was finally captured and brought back to the "cave".  As head woman it was my job to prepare the feast.  Oh, my God!  The sight of the Racoon with no fur and no head, feet and a gaping abdomen was more than I could bear!  I put it in a pan on it's back with it's feet pointing upward, poured is some water, added salt and pepper and shoved it in the oven.  Earl checked it several times and finally pronounced it "ready."  There was no way I could have eaten a bite of that if my life depended on it and at that time it did.   I can still close my eyes and picture that.  I know in parts of the world and this country Racoon is eaten, but not the way I fixed it, I am sure.  I equate all wild animals the same as my kitty cat.

I do, however have good memories of Glasco.  It was a little town and I bought 2 chickens at the feed store and butchered them.  They cost a whole dollar for 2 of them.  Old hens, so they were turned into noodles.

The guys went down on the river and cut down a big Walnut tree and sold it to a buyer for $98 which was a whole lot of money at that time.  We were going to do that for a living, but that was stealing and we were afraid we would get caught.  Fear stopped a lot of our ideas.

Pete caught a fish that was very long, had a snout, and he had never seen one before like it so he beat it to death.  Later we learned it was a Gar.  Live and learn.

In my little mind, I was happy in Glasco.  In my little mind I have been happy most of my life.  Sadly the happiness did not always coincide with the time I was living through it, but that is alright.  My mother always had sayings for me.

"Hind sight is 20/20 looking back."

 "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder."  

And my favorite "Time is the greatest healer."

My life is good.  God Bless!

Monday, February 20, 2017

I hope I do not get deported!

123 years ago a man named Johann Jakob Haas and his second wife, Maria Dorathea (Schrade) landed at Ellis Island Immigration Center.  They came from Dettingen Wrtt, Germany.  Those 2 people were my  great grandfather and step great grandmother. He had 9 children with this second wife.  This was called his second family.

 (Great grandfather had been married before and fathered 7 children with his first wife, Elizabeth Beck.  My grandfather was in his first family.)

At the time I was born, Jakob and Maria had been in the United States of America 47 years.  I guess that makes me a third generation immigrant!  Not sure how that works, but it seems my kids would then be fourth generation immigrants.

How sad it is that I woke up this morning with this on my mind.  And that my second thought was that I am a child of white privilege was even sadder.  My grand children are a mix of races.  I have one black,  2 Indians, one mexican and then then token white boy.  The great grandkids are a hodge podge and we no longer see color at my house.

I know that our government is "cracking down on the illegals" and this breaks my heart.  To see a mother torn from her children and sent back to Mexico because a paper is not in her possession that gives her the rights I have makes me sick.  She raised her kids by working and spending her money in the local market place.  Her kids went to the local school not just for a day or two, but for years.  Years.  She wanted to be here or she would have gone back to Mexico a long time ago.

Does anyone except me remember when the government cracked down on the illegals because they were taking work from the local people by working in the fields?  Seems the migrant farm workers did not come and the crops rotted in the fields because that was work our local people who were legal did not want to do.  Hot out there in the broiling sun .

Our government has never made it easy to get citizenship and it has never been cheap.  Lawyers and paperswork and courts do not make it conducive for people who work very cheap to afford the help they need.  So punish them.  I was born into my citizenship, but many were not.

I know of one man who is 3 semesters short of getting his degree in business management.  He has worked hard to pay tuition and buy books by working in the fields, but he is not a citizen.  He will be sent back to Mexico under the current regieme.  His father was granted his citizenship, but has not received the final paper.  It is lost out there somewhere, so all he has done has been in vain.

Somewhere along the rocky road to today, this freedom train went off the tracks.  The government is fighting the Indians because the pipeline wants to go across thier land and water and do we remember who was here first?  Hell no we don't!  We took thier land.  Then we decided we didn't want them to be there and we took that land and gave them different land and now we change our minds again!  I bet the Indians are wondering why they invited us to that first Thanksgiving!

It would be nice to build a big rocket ship and put all the elitist ignoramuses on it and ship them to the moon and leave us peace loving people here to drink out of the same water faucets and play on the same beaches.  Remember the hippies?  Remember the love generation?  Remember the Viet Nam war?  Remember Stonewall? We are afraid of immigrants.  They might do us harm.  Remember Timothy McVey?  American born.  Remember Columbine?  American born!  Where is our rationale?

It is going to be a long day.  I wish I had a bright spot to give you, but this morning I do not.  This morning my heart is bleeding for my America.  The one we had before someone decided to make it great again.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Oh where have you gone, Martha Knoblock?

The older I get the more I remember when I was young and foolish, but mostly young and taken care of by some one other than myself.  I remember my classmates so clearly.  Now let me go on record right here as saying, I have my memories and thiers may be entirely different.  Like Martha Knobloch.  She played the piano and I recall her piano recital.  She lived near us, but up on the highway closer to the sand pit.  Her mother set up a recital in her home and several of us kids were there.  It seems like maybe only 4 or 5.  We set on a couch,  all us little girls in a row with our feet straight out in front of us.  I am sure her mom made some sort of refreshments, probably to entice us into setting still!  I recall being very proud that I knew someone who could play the piano.  I bragged about that for years, and look here, I still am!
Irene Reinke,  Beth McGonigle and Nancy Cuthbertson grew up to be cheerleaders.   They were the cool kids.  David Sjoberg,  Owen Lentz and  Gary Battey were the smart ones.  Kenny Fenton,  Jim Redford, and Larry Collee were the jocks.  Oh, and David Sjoberg was also a jock.  A smart jock, if you can imagine that.   Earl Kelley, Loren McQueen, Jay Moore, Joyce Pedersen, Barbara Hawk, Sherry Stires, Joan Moore, Eleanor Kirkpatrick, Eveline Piper, Barbara Massey, and Martha Knobloch.  I am drawing a blank on the rest of them.  I am sure when I hang up the blog, I will remember the rest of them.  But this was the core group.  Others came and went, but these were the ones I went to school with for 8 years and then into high school. 
I was not a very good girl in high school, so I lost track of them. The bus brought in kids from Hutch and the outlying areas and I just went to hell in a handcart mostly.  All through grade school Barbara had been my very best friend.  Mother cleaned house for them and I spent lots of nights at her house.  Remember the sleeping arrangements at my house made it impossible to squeeze in another kid.  She had her own room!  It had a bed in an alcove and a settee, a fireplace, a chair with a lamp to see by, a desk and everything I could ever dream of for comfort.  And her mother kept ice cream in the freezer and her day would make us a sundae with a cherry on top!  Her dad was the local dentist, so they had lots of money. She had a brother named Bert who always called me "mudpie" because making mudpies was always a pastime in my world.  One thing we always had was dirt and water.  Had I made bricks instead of pies I could have built a house.
I remember 3rd grade when hygiene became important.  The teacher's name was Miss Holmes.  The first thing every morning she would ask, "Did you brush your teeth this morning?"  We had to hold up our hand as a yes answer.  "Did you comb your hair?"  Another yes was expected.  "Did you wash your face?"  Yes.  Then she would walk around and physically inspect our hands to be sure they were clean.  I rarely passed.  I had answered yes to all the above questions, but only because everyone else did.  I am not sure I even owned a toothbrush back in those days.  I never had a cavity in my life until I married my first husband.  He gave me the cavity germ along with the nest full of babies! 
One of the really nice things about school was the bathrooms.  I never knew why they were called that because there was no where to take a bath, but they were nice.  All that tile and running water was more then I could ever dream for at home.  And hot water came out of the faucet!  In the 4th grade I went into the  bathroom one time at the same time as Beth McGonigle.  She had a popcorn ball tired up in a scarf.  It was uneventful until a few minutes later when Mrs. Howe grabbed me by the ear and took me to the office.  There the story was told by Beth that I had grabbed her popcorn ball and thrown it in the toilet!  I had not even touched her damn popcorn ball, but that was the story.  Mother had to come to school and hear what an evil child I was.  On the report card every nine weeks there was an area for teacher comments.  "Louella is mean to her classmates".  "Louella teases the other kids."  "Louella does not play well with others".  That continued until the last 9 weeks when there was no comment written because Mrs. Howe had been taken to hospital because she had a thorn in her lower intestine and needed surgery.  It was iffy whether she would make it or not.  Talk about Karma! 
In 5th grade I had Miss Swenson.  I loved that woman.  She found potential in me and entered one of my poems to a magazine and it was accepted.  Had I stayed in 5th grade forever, my life would have been so different.  But life went on and I am here today to tell you that Karma is good.  Well, Karma is good unless it is bad.  I like to stay on the good side of that bitch!  
I wonder where all the kids have gone.  I wonder if they had good lives.  One of the kids that wandered through my world in the 4th grade was a girl named Mavis Reed.  She had a brother named Jerry.  They lived outside of town and sometimes I would ride the bus to her house and then her brother would take me home on the handlebars of his bike.  Wonder what ever became of them?  Wonder why I thought of that?
Well, the world of church, geese, dog food, and all that calls to me, so I am out of here.  Just in case someone whose name of have mentioned above reads this, I would like to know.  Or if you know what became of the kids in the class of 1959 in Nickerson, Kansas, give me a shout out.  email is loumercer3@aol.com  Just copy and paste in your browser.  I try every day to be a better person just to make up for whatever I did back then.  I keep searching because if we do not learn from our history, we tend to repeat out mistakes and it is the same in the growing up world of skinny little girls!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

Now those of you who know me also know that most of the time I am the hard, hearted Hannah, the vamp of Savannah, but those of you who know me well, know that I do have a soft side and have been known to tear up at the slightest thing that most people except as every day happenings.  Like this morning.  I had to take Elvira in to the beauty shop early and so was heading west up Abriendo (if Abriendo does indeed run past the library in an east west manner.) when a young girl passed in front of my car.  She was shabbily dressed and pushing a cheap baby stroller which was a resting place for several bags as well as a child of perhaps 9-10 months of age.  I know the homeless shelter is located on that street or the next one over.
The picture is frozen in my mind.  I know she was headed there.  Many things pointed in that direction.  The stroller was not one of the padded ones like most parents we know have.  She was wearing a coat and the baby was wearing a cap that covered its ears.  What struck me most was the baby.  I am sure it was a boy for some reason.  He sat erect in the stroller and clutched the bar to keep himself upright.  He stared straight ahead as if to memorize everything before him.  His mother walked quickly with her head down.  This was no early morning stroll.  It was a mission.  It was as if the baby also knew that he must hang on and not lose his grip lest he cause a problem that would deter them from the job ahead.  They were alone in time and space for that moment with me watching them like a voyeur from some other place.   And my mind went back in time.
I have never been homeless.  I raised 5 kids and worked 2 or three jobs at a time so I would not be homeless.  There were times I wanted to give up, but I never knew who or what to give up to, so I just kept putting one foot in front of the other and marched onward to the drum beat that was in my head.
Would I live my life different if I could live it in reverse?  You bet your sweet ass I would!  I would never have left my first husband and everyone of those 5 kids would have had a college education.  There would not have been a choice given to them, but life can not be lived that way.  My kids have all grown into respectable adults with kids and grand kids of their own.  I have great grands which I guess makes me old.  Ah, but with age comes wisdom.  Or so I hear.
No, with age comes a mind that works overtime.  And speaking of overtime, I wish it just worked like it is supposed to.  I spend a few hours every week with a lady who is older than me and we spend most of our time trying to remember what it was we were talking about.  We have a trove of memories that are in there some where, but not readily recalled.  And then there is that damn overly sensitive side that goes with old age.  I cry when I hear almost any song, but the one that leaves me a sobbing heap is "Seven Spanish Angels" with Willie Nelson and Ray Charles. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0OhbJPrzWc   Course Happy Birthday to you does the same thing.  Abused animal pictures send me into a 3 day depression.  Hell, any animal picture sends me into a whole new realm.
It has been a couple months since I started to write this article and the picture of the mother and son is as fresh in my mind as it was that morning.  So here is the deal, can someone out there tell me why I can remember my social security number, my first phone number, the address of the house I lived in 65 years ago, but I have no idea where in the hell the car keys are, or that I have a doctors appointment?  I set here in my house all day and when someone says, "What did you do today?" I draw a complete blank.  I saw a cook wanted sign the other day and actually talked to someone about the idea of me going to work there.  My God!  If I had to get up and actually go somewhere at the same time every day, it would drive me nuts!  But then when someone asked me what I did I could say, "I worked all day," which would have actually only been 3 hours, but it sounds good.  Back to the subject at hand.
I watch for the mother and baby every time I drive through the Junction, but no signs of them any where.  So I am going to play out my own scenario.  I think they went to Posada and there they got a bus ticket back home.  I think they lived in the south and they are back with her mother and the mother loves her new grandson.  The lady pushing the stroller went to school and got a really good job and they all lived happily ever after.
That is how things work in my head.



Sunday, January 15, 2017

There was a barn and horses.

I woke up this morning remembering the barn.  The horse tank was out the back door of the house and off to the right.  For years it had a "pitcher pump" and we all took turns pumping to keep water for the animals.  Ever now and then we had to fish a chicken out because chickens can not swim.  That was not very often, because chickens are fairly smart that way.  We had Muscovy ducks and they occasionally took a spin around the tank, but they were very leery of those big horse teeth and mostly stayed around the back of the house where the kitchen sink drained out on the ground.  That was back before there were laws about that.
There was a red milk cow.  Her name was "Bossy".  She shared the barn with the other animals.  She eventually gave birth to a black calf that I immediately named Dennis.  She then took sick with milk fever (?).   My dad and the neighbor man tried to save her.  They even cut her tail open and put salt and pepper in it and bound it up.  That was sure to cure her.  Unfortunately, it did not.  Dennis took sick soon after and I think that was because he had no mother to feed him.  He also died, which broke my heart.
There was a brown horse named "Danny" that was my sister Josephine's.  It was her's because that was the meanest damned horse in the world and she was the only one who could ride him.  The rest of us kids were relegated to a Shetland pony whose name was "Star".  Dad would put one of us up on his back and then lead him around the corral.  I never did like either Star or the rides so I mostly hid out when that was going on.  The little kids got a kick out of it though.
My Dad had a big scar on his upper arm (think that is called a bicep).  (For this reason I have always been afraid of horses thinking that one might bite me.)  It dated back to when he was in the Army (World War 1).  He was in the Cavalry.  His job was to tend the horses and one bit him.  I knew my father to be a very mean man sometimes.  He never mistreated us kids physically, but he did tend to mistreat animals.  One of the things used to control horses was a stick with a loop of rope on the end.  The rope was put around the upper lip of a horse and twisted.  The horse was then pretty much at the mercy of whoever held the stick.  I do not remember what that thing was called.  Of course there was a black snake whip that hung in the barn for when the horses were really out of control.
Dad had a fondness (more like an obsession) for show horses.  They were not just show horses, they were work horses that were beautiful.  My dad was one of the last people to give up the horse and plow.  He would never buy one horse.  He always bought a matched pair.  The last matched pair he had was the only pair I even remember.  They were Strawberry Roans.  They were big and a light pinkish color.  They had blonde tails and my father would stand for hours brushing them.  When he went into town their tails were braided and he was a sight to behold.  My father.  (pause while a flood of memories leaves me in tears.)
The upper part of the barn was called the "hay loft."  It was called that because that is where the hay was stored.  That was also where the old cats went to have their kittens.  When the cow was alive and we milked her, there was a bowl by her stall that was always filled with fresh milk at milking time.  The one legged stool hung on a peg above it. 
When the hayloft was filled with fresh hay, we had to check it periodically through the day.  If some of the hay that went in the loft was not quite dry enough, it would heat up and if not turned to get air to cool it, burst into flame.  First it started to smolder and usually we picked that up right away.  We took the pitch fork and pulled that part of the hay stack out and threw it out the opening onto the ground where we spread it to cool, or burn if it was that hot.  Lots of barns burned to the ground because of that little problem.
My dad was pretty much a share cropper and us kids were put into use real regular. Sometimes we went to wheat fields and pulled out the Rye that sprung up magically.  If the elevator man found Rye in the load of wheat being sold, he would "dock" dad on the pay.  Sometimes we harvested field corn.  We picked the dry ears and stripped them in the field and then tossed them on the corn wagon.  The corn wagon was just a horse drawn wagon with board added on the back side so the corn bounced off and landed back in the wagon with the rest of the corn.  We picked rocks out of fields.  We pulled weeds in the garden.  Especially fun was cleaning the manure out of the barn and hauling it to the pile in the corner of the corral.  We gathered eggs.  Brought in fire wood.  Carried out the trash.  Made the beds. Washed the dishes.  In the winter we tried to stay warm and in the summer we tried to stay cool.
One of my clearest memories is laying on my stomach by the chicken house with my brother and watching the "dead animal wagon" back up to the fence in front of the barn.  The man pulled the wench chain out and over to the barn where he wrapped it around Star's neck.  He hit the button and Star was unceremoniously drug up over the sill, across the pen, under the barbed wire fence and up into the back of the truck.  My last memory of Star was seeing the truck pull onto the road and drive off with Star's  legs sticking straight up into the air.  Jake and I were very quiet the rest of the day and night.  Then life resumed, just like there had never been a Shetland Pony named Star in our life.
And now I sit here with my memories.  I see the house just as clearly today as I did then, only now I appreciate it more for it's simplicity.  I see my brother in his overalls.  The scar on his face was put there by Star many years before. 
There are only 2 of us left now.   I feel closer to the past then I do the future.  I long for those days when I could feel the breeze on my arms and face.  Back then I could not wait to grow up and get away.  I wanted my own home.  My own family.  Well, I got it and here I set.  If there is one thing I would tell the people I know it is this:  Hold on to today, because today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.  Yesterday is gone and tomorrow never comes.  I think they wrote a song about that.


Saturday, January 7, 2017

And I remember when 9 below was nothing, or so it seemed.

I crawled out of the sack this morning and man it was cold.   I heard it was supposed to be -9, but I just checked and it is -2.  So I inched the furnace up just a hair and thought back to 65 years ago, when the best I could do was huddle around the wood stove in the front room and try to get just a little heat going.  It was mostly Jake's job to get up very early and get the fire going.  It just was easier for him to bank the fire and throw on another log through the night than it was to get up and build a whole new fire.  That way at least a little heat was going.  The stove was closest to the room where Dad, Jake, Josephine, Donna, Mary ande I slept.  Momma slept in the back bedroom with Dorothy and sometimes Mary.
Going to bed was never really anything to look forward to, if you know what I mean.  In the summer it was not so bad because we kind of spread out and slept wherever there was a flat place, but winter meant getting out the blankets and all of us piling on the one bed that was not occupied by dad.  It was a matter of survival back then.  Blankets were mostly the old wool things that came from the Army.  They were scratchy wool and if we were really lucky one side would have a sheet or something tacked on to it.  The idea of a sheet under us and one over us was unheard of at that time. If such a thing existed they would be on dad's bed.  Elbows were pillows.  Jake slept across the bottom of the bed wrapped in his own cocoon because he was a boy after all and could not sleep with his head near our heads.  I realize this is a weird way of thinking and would be considered scandalous today, but it was what it was back then in the "Grapes of Wrath" world of John Stienbeck.
Usually this sleeping arrangement worked pretty well, but there were times it failed.  Mary was not completely dependable when it came to sleeping the whole night without an "accident".  On those nights she was unceremoniously awoken and hauled off to mothers bed and we were left to sleep around the circle of wet  mattress where she had been previously.  We usually tried to put her on the edge of the bed because then her little bed wetting problem was not so catastrophic.  And another bad habit she had was chewing her toenails and the edge of the bed gave her better access to her chosen target. ( I often wonder if she ever gave up on that little habit.)  Mary was always Dad's favorite because she was little, quiet and very sweet.
Josephine eloped when she was 15 or so.  That freed up some bed space and we were very happy to have those few inches of mattress.  Now I have to go on record here as saying she eloped with a man who was 29 years old.  Today he would be tarred and feathered, but then it was fairly normal.  The legal age for a girl to get married back then was 13 in the state of Mississippi and not much older in most of the other states.  I think that is right.  And if a girl wanted to get married younger than that she needed one of her parents to sign for her.  We have definitely improved on that law!
Back in those days if a boy got in trouble with the law, he could join the service and they would drop the charges.  He had to be at least 16.  Jake changed his birth certificate and got in when he was 16.  He was in the service and back out before most of his classmates graduated.  He was sure handsome in his uniform.
I can remember walking home from school after a snow storm.  We had a friend named Jim Davis and mother made arrangements with him to walk in front of us and break a trail in the snow.  Had he not done that we would probably still be there.  I recall once it was so bad dad brought the horse to break the trail.  When they talk about record snow falls, I know what they are talking about.  We measured it in feet back then.
So this morning I set here in my warm little house and look outside at the snow on the ground and wish I could stay home, but no such luck.  But I have a car that goes in the snow very well and if I just use a little bit of common sense I can make it to town and back.  It is supposed to warm up today and being the heat seeking woman I am, I am looking forward to that.

Stay safe out there!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Whittlin' Joe and Smokin' Johnny Carson

We lived down on Strong Street and they lived up on Highway 96.  They lived the second house in from the corner in a brown tar paper shack.  I call it tar paper but it had a coating on it with flecks of brown, red and black.  You know what I mean, kind of like the asphalt shingles on roofs today.  Their yard was small but it was big enough for a chicken coop and an out house.  It had one tree and that is where Whittlin' Joe could be found every afternoon after school.  He sat on a wooden chair and leaned it back against the tree trunk and whittled his little things he whittled whatever they were.  I suspect he was there all day and not just after school, but that is when I saw him.  The chickens ran free in the yard and some times one could be seen coming out of the house.  They had a small trailer and it was said by my brother (who knew these things) that the trailer was full of things they had whittled and in the summer they went on the road and sold stuff.  I could not argue, because I did not know.  I just know I walked on the other side of the street because they scared me.
I had heard rumors that sometimes Hank Windiate would stop and pass the time of day with them.  Hank lived at the end of our street and was crippled.  I do not know why, just that one arm and one leg were pretty small.  He had a buckboard and an old brown horse which he harnessed and hooked up to it on a daily basis and "went into town."  I have no idea why he went into town every day, but he did.  There were rumors that he had been married at one time and his wife had died.  Hank was another one who let the chickens run in and out of the house.  Hank took sick and died and the town people came and built a fire in his yard and burned everything that was inside.  I never understood that.  And I do not know what happened to the goats, chickens and horse either.  This is just how I remember it.
Between us and Hank were two houses.  First was Rudolph Reinke and his girls, Irene, Delores, Florence and Venita.  He had several more girls who had grown and gone, but Irene was my age and Delores a year or so older.  The mother had died when Irene was a wee tot and Rudolph was left to raise the kids.  He did handyman work and left early and came home late.  He also raised pigs and he could be heard doing his chores and singing hymns in German while he went about his business.  The girls made doughnuts every Saturday morning.  They also had a cow so they made real butter.  They used to trade us butter for the white stuff with a yellow dot that passed for margarine in the old time.  I liked that.  They had a dog on a chain that barked all the time and I do not think anyone ever petted it.
Between Reinke's and Hank was Jake Smith and his wife who I never knew because she looked really mean and stood very straight when she walked.  She walked into town and was a cleaning lady for someone.  Jake was a retired peace officer and he liked to show us his gun and tell us what would happen to us if we ever did anything wrong.  He would arrest us because he still had his badge and he could do that.  He had a chair in the yard and used to tip it back against the tree and nap.  Pretty sure Jake was the instigator of the "sneaking up on Jake Smith while he was asleep and tying him to the tree."  Boy, was he mad!  Of course he was not tied very tight, but it was just the idea of catching him asleep that the boys could not resist.
Walt King lived over on the highway on the other side of our block.  He raised beautiful flowers and a garden to die for, which he did one afternoon.  We saw him sleeping face down in his garden all afternoon and so when mother came home we told her and she and Rudolph went to investigate, but we had to stay home.
The Feins and their son Howard lived between us and Whittlin' Joe on the highway.  Howard was probably 25 years old and still lived at home.  He worked in his garden a lot.  He raised mostly flowers.  I stopped to see him sometimes, but once he made his false teeth jump out at me and scared the living shit right out of me.  I did not even know there were such things as false teeth.  When I told mother she just laughed and said to stay away from there because I was probably aggravating him.  I pretty much avoided him after that.
Right catty cornered from our house was a lot that was a square block with an empty house on one side.  I mean a deserted falling down house with no roof.  Joe Hedrick held his rodeo's there.  I always liked to watch them ride the broncs.  Joe or Jerry.  One was an old man and one was my age.  Today they have an exotic animal farm on the other side of town.  I think it is a bed and breakfast, or it was.  I have not been back in years so I do not know.
Behind our house about half a mile was the cemetary.  I used to love to go there because it was quiet and sometimes there were pretty flowers.  I just looked at them.
So, these are my thoughts this morning.  I sure wonder where they come from?