Little White Plastic Boots.

I find it funny, as I grow older, the things I do and don’t remember. I know that it is normal for the human brain to block out really horrible things that happen, but there are times that it seems I blocked out the physical pain and I am not sure why?


My prime example of this came back as a partial dream the other night. Most dreams, I feel, are just an extension of things that happened during the day. Things that may have affected me, more than I realized, at that moment. This one was a blast-from-the-past wild one. Have no clue what brought it up from the depths of my overloaded brain.

When I was about six or seven, I had these great little white plastic (Rubber was too expensive for a little farm kid to play in), and I loved them. I could just slip them on and terrorize the farm. They were my favorite shoes back then. They were stiff as a board, light-weight, and all mine!

kids plastic boots (They were like this only all white, no special designs, bows, or faces. Faces came later with Peter Max.)
One afternoon a bad storm was coming in, and Dad said he was going to run out and close the sliding barn doors before it rained – I ran to help.

The sliding doors were on the back side of the barn, and they were HUGE! You may have seen smaller versions being converted into bedroom doors on the DIY channels or social media. These were at least twice the size. We had them open to throw out hay for the cows and horses to eat. Then we would also throw down straw which:
1) Kept the area mostly dry.
2) Critters loved to sleep on it – a form of insulation.
3) If the pile we threw out was big enough, it was great fun to jump down on it.

sliding barn doors
(This is what most of you know – picture a single one as big as the whole opening, and not so pretty. That was what just one of the sliding barn doors was.)

Dad went straight to the door on the left as it was closest to the hay.

I squealed out, “I’ll get the other one daddy.”

Running and bouncing over to the other huge door. I never even thought about looking where I was going. Here is where the memory gets weird.

I remember seeing the board because I knew it would give me the boost up I needed to close the big door. I do not remember seeing the rusty nail until I had already bounced (yes – not just stepped but I pounced on it) on it and the top of the nail was sticking out of the top of my beautiful white plastic boot. Red was shooting all over the boot.
rusty nail in board (Old barn boards required about 4-inch long nails.)

  • I remember dad stomping on the board and yanking me off the nail, but I don’t remember the pain.
  • I remember the blood trail that followed us all the way up to the house, as dad scooped me up and ran as fast as he could to the house.
  • I remember my foot being placed in something wet, but I don’t remember if it was hot or cold.

The next thing I remember is that ugly shot I was getting at the doctor’s office. Then there was the cast that he wrapped my little foot and half my leg in. The worst that I remember was the awful words he said to my parents:
“She will have to stay in the cast this summer…” He went on to give them other instructions, but all I remember is “all summer,” and I remember the crying.

That was a close second to my worst summer in history.
• No participation in the haymaking with friends and family.
• No riding the horses in the water because I couldn’t get the darn thing wet.
• No running  jumping and playing with the other kids in the back yard, hay mow or fields.
• No swimming and baths were just nasty. Took both my parents to help me. One held the leg out of the tub and up in the air, the other did the washing – no fun at all.
• I know there were more shots, but I don’t remember the pain of them either.

The strangest thing about this story is, as much as I remember loving those little white plastic boots; I have no clue where they went after stepping on the nail. I never saw them again.

the MIND,

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DO YOU MISS HOME? Part 3 – Fall.

A true child’s story.

In the fall the whole family was engaged in putting up food.  I remember a huge walk-in, dirt floor, always cold pantry in the basement.  Three walls were lined with shelves for the tons of processed food jars to be properly placed on.  The center of the room had a huge wooden box.  This was where all the potatoes (that is the ones that we did not eat raw) went.  I dream of having something like that in our home now.  I also want to see it stocked full by the first frost.  Has not happened yet, but I have a goal.

The best part of fall was all the taste-testing:

  • Pick it fresh from the vine, tree, root, or wherever it may be growing and munch.
  • Sample ALL jams, jellies, sauces, preserves – before they are done and packed.
  • Enjoy the first of everything made at Thanksgiving with family and friends.

(Not us, but you get the idea just by the faces of these kids.)

While doing my research for this post, I was saddened by the fact that I do not have any more cherished family photo memories.  The fire of 2014 took them all out.  The fact that my wonderful photo memories are gone also helped me to see something that I didn’t before.  I went looking for pics that would be as similar as possible to my original memories.  I was shocked to discover that almost all the photos that came up in my searches were not of kids in real gardens.  A real garden (like what we grew up on) has:

  • No wooden or plastic borders.
  • Simple dirt, maybe a bit of straw, for walkways between the rows.
  • Kids that will get FILTHY while picking all the good stuffs (cuz everything on a kid with dirt turns into mud.).
  • Parents watching the kids all the time because they will eat all the food before you have time to process it.
  • Weeds that will continue to pop up no matter how much you work on them.
  • Not massive acres tended by dozens of people, but a simple backyard size that is managed by using just the family members.
  • Everyone is always smiling because you can see before you the labors of a job done in love, and a job well done.

I remember being down on the ground with bare legs getting full of dirt.  Using both hands (no gloves) to dig into the dirt and pull out potatoes and carrots.  Crawling along the row with those same dirty knees to pick every last one of the beans, peas, and all the other tiny veggies.  Heaven forbids if we missed even one. Oh almost forgot, the children were allowed to go back into the garden area when we were all done gathering the processing foods, to gleen off what may have been missed.  It was never much – but it was fun looking.  At this point, we were allowed to tear the snot out of the garden.  It’s always more fun to tear things apart than to build them.

like our garden 1

(Close, but this is city and has sheds that we did not have back then.  Also picture it about 10-times bigger.)

It would take days, sometimes weeks, to get everything processed and put up in the basement, dirt floor pantry.  I remember walking ever so carefully down those cement stairs to the basement, arms loaded with great foods.  Hang a tight right and straight on to the pantry door.  Watch your step because you had to step down to the dirt floor.  Always, someone older would take the jars of deliciousness from our arms and place them in proper order on the shelves.

The items still left from the year before were brought forward, and the new year’s yummies were placed in line behind them. Next stop – Thanksgiving Day!

We always held the family Thanksgiving party at our farm.  All morning (and most years the night before) were spent bringing up the stored goodies and prepping them for the day of feasting.  I say a “day” of feasting as our family did not just do the one meal.  People started showing up about 10:00 a.m. and some did not leave till after 10:00 p.m.

We had a huge dining room area with a huge rectangle table in the middle of it.  To give you the scope of huge – we also had an antique upright piano, a rounded glass china cabinet, as well as a couple of storage cabinets – oh and an outstanding tree/chair coat rack. (Mom had this thing for tiger wood – we still do.)  All of these things were in the same room as the dining room table.  Granted, the table leaf was added for these special occasions, but how it all fit in, with all of the people getting around it to fill plates, all day long; amazes me to this day.

(The piano and cabinet are identical to ours.  The table is similar, but the chairs were not so fancy.  I just remember hiding under there when our dad’s dad came to visit.  It was a very German thing to chase the little kids and pinch them – I have no idea why?)

Later in the day, the football games would start.  The men would retire with their plates of food into the living room and start screaming and yelling at the poor TV.  The women would gather in the kitchen which was always the place of interesting conversations, and a lot of laughing. (There is a WHOLE other story around “kitchens” and my memories.  Saved for another day.).  The kids would shoot outside like bullets at the first chance to flee.  We had horses, a hay barn, straw mounds with rope swings, and if we were lucky to have a good snow before Thanksgiving, snow to sled on down our steep hills.

kids going off to dream build

Our wonderful 80-acre farm was a fantastic place to grow up.  The limitations were only held back by our own imaginations.

Tis the season for reminding siblings that fresh veggies are better when shared.

I can fly - kid

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DO YOU MISS HOME? Part 2 – Summer.

In keeping with my fond memories of what our home was like, I move on to the next season.

Summers were filled with running amok.  Dad was one of those “real dad” type guys.  When it came to my baby sister, maybe too much so.  He tried very hard to make sure we had all that we needed and more.

We had horses, eighty acres to ride them on, and very wild imaginations.  Dad also got to know our neighbor with fantastic woods, so we could ride their lane when we needed a different scene for our imaginations.

We played at a pretend secluded cabin in the woods.  The horses were placed in a make-shift corral we made from downed logs. The fact that they were downed, to begin with, should have been a hint to us.  On more than one occasion the beasties got lose.  They, of course, were intelligent enough to head straight back to the farm where they are well fed.  We, of course, never learned not to do that.  Grumbling and walking all the way back to the farm became a, several times a week, task.  The best part is we would do the same stupid stuff every summer.  Ride the horses into the woods, slap them into a make-shift coral, and expect them to just stay in the rickety thing – duh.

While in the woods, we would dream of hunting and fishing for our meals.  A branch of the Milwaukee River broke through our back fourty and again at the end of the neighbor’s woods.  There were turtles, frogs, and great eating fish in that stream.  Sometimes we would actually go fishing, but most times we just caught turtles and frogs to play with.

kids playing in creekThis reminds me of our pond.  It was only there in the first part of summer as it was created from winter snowmelt.  No fish, no turtles, some frogs, but lots of blood-suckers.  The first couple of years we didn’t think about it.  If the day was hot and we were not riding the horses, we would chase them into the pond and grab onto their tales.  I still remember the feeling of being dragged through the cool water.

If we were riding, my younger sister had to make sure to stay AWAY from the pond.  If she allowed the horse to get into the water up to its knees, the darn thing would drop and roll on her.  At first, I thought it was just the one horse.  But she had a couple of others after that one, and they did the same thing. Now, I know it was just their way of getting rid of her.  Don’t worry; she never got hurt when they flipped.  I felt sorrier for the horses, as she would catch up with them and punch them in the nose (ya, like that would hurt the horse?) for dumping her.

One exceptionally warm summer the pond was still up in July.  The only reason I remember this is because of the blood-suckers (leeches).  We (our cousins and my younger sister) all decided to go for a dip because of the heat.  It started out fun, then my sister came up out of the water in her bikini and had blood-suckers all over her belly.  We freaked out and started whacking her stomach to get them off.  Eventually, it worked, but her belly was red for the rest of the day.  Mom banned us from the pond the rest of that summer.

leech picture

As the summer waned, mom would get the Aldens Catalog (a mail-order Sears-type catalog) in the mail.  We would all gather together to go through it and pick out our school clothes for the upcoming school year.  A few weeks later we would come home from riding horses all day to find several large packages piled on the dining room table.  It was like an early Christmas!  We couldn’t wait to rip them open and try them all on.  Then the hard part was trying to decide what to wear on the first day of school.

This also marked the end of all our summer fun and the start of fall school year – bummer.

aldens catalog pic

Tis the season for reminding siblings that revenge is sweet.

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DO YOU MISS HOME? Part 1 – Spring.

I am not talking about where you may live now. I am talking about that feeling of home you got when you were young. This time of year, I get very homesick for those fond family home memories.

I decided that my way to handle it this year is to share a bit of my Wisconsin home life from back in the 1960’s. I will be posting “Spring” today. Then over the next 10 days, I will share, Summer, Fall, and Winter (just in time for the Christmas). I hope you will enjoy my memories and share some of your own.

Maybe I was just very blessed to have the childhood I had.  Sure, some bad things happened, but you get up, get over it, and get on with life.  One of my little sister’s fav saying is:
“Ya just need to pull up your big girl panties and move on already.”

My home life, compared to others, apparently was outstanding!
Spring on the farm meant:
• Picking Rock
• Planting the fields.
• The beginning of hay season.
• Planting the family garden.
• Catching tadpoles, baby turtles, and whatever else we would get away with.
• The end of the school year and the beginning of the summer fun days.
I bet a bunch of you stopped at the “picking rock” statement. You need to understand the big picture here. So, here goes:

A big, strapping, dark haired, blue eyed, father of three daughters. The daughter’s ages roughly four, six, and eleven. Three girls that, through the grace of their mother, were each blessed with a very warped sense of humor.

The youngest, being too small to actually pick up most of the rocks, was harnessed with the task of driving the tractor. I specifically say harnessed because she was. It was just a small Massey Ferguson tractor, but she was still too little to reach the pedals or do anything more than drive it in a straight line. Dad strapped a block of wood to her foot to reach the pedal to stop, and then tied her into the seat so she wouldn’t slip off. He had her stomp on the clutch to stop the tractor; he would put it in gear at the very lowest speed, and away she went. It only took her about three tries of popping the clutch and killing the motor, but she finally got a feel for it. Then the fun began.

old fashioned rock picking(Ok this pic is a bit before my time, but you get the idea. We did not have cell phones or cameras in the field while picking rock. But rocks this big were occasionally dug up.)
She, on the tractor, was to simply pull the flatbed wagon in a straight line down the field. Keep in mind this is the slowest speed so the three of us could walk along, pick up the big rock, and place it on the wagon (FYI, our mom had one of the best rock gardens around by the time we sold the farm). Dad would get the biggest rocks. My elder sister the next size down. My job was to pick up anything that would not fit through the plow tines. No problem – right? Wrong.
My little Speed Racer sister on the tractor was getting bored. She started watching us picking up the rocks. The first time she pulled the stunt, it was on me. I had found a larger than my normal size rock. It was a bugger just to get it out of the ground, never-the-less me pick it up, but I did it. I was struggling to get it to the wagon. Speed Racer’s job was to stop the tractor when she saw we were having a hard time with any rocks. A major part of her task was to give us time to unload it.

She saw I was struggling.

She stopped.

I approached the wagon and lifted my monster to place it on the wagon and…

She took her foot off the clutch and lurched forward.

I dropped the rock on the ground (missing my foot by inches.).

kid picking up big rock

Dad, who of course had been watching the whole thing was trying to reprimand Speed Racer, but could not stop laughing long enough to get the words out. This became a family tradition.
Up until the day we sold the farm, Speed Racer got to drive the tractor, we got to load the rocks, and I was forced to chase a wagon every spring picking season.
Even though this “tradition” was not one of my favorites at the time, I remember it very fondly today.
I hope you join me for my next post so we can visit our family summer traditions.

Tis the season for reminding siblings who is the boss. 

(When I figure out who it is, I will let you know.)

dancing kittens-saved

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