I SIMPLY JUMPED INTO THE NEAREST WINDOW... Walking to school in fear of the neighbor's dogs stands out in my mind. There was the time a pack of dogs (mongrels, in general) chased me to the top of Mrs. Stamper's paling fence. In her crippled state she was unable to chase away the dogs so I had to wait until they tired of the sport. Finally, I escaped and ran on to school.
Another morning, as I strolled up the road, one of Crit Chadwell's fox hounds began chasing me. As he got closer, I neared Gordon Weaver's house and realized an escape. Not having time to enter the door properly, I simply jumped into the nearest window and landed in the living room, curtains flying behind me! It's a miracle that I haven't needed counseling to overcome my fear of dogs.
HAIRCUTS - THE SEMI-ANNUAL NIGHTMARE Dad used a pair of dull, broken clippers and gave us carded haircuts before they were "cool". The ordeal was so painful that at one point I let my hair get rather long and shaggy. Sisters, embarrassed when boyfriends called, attacked me on the porch. There, Elva and Jewell Dean sheared my hair in unsightly fashion. I have never forgotten and hardly forgiven them!
DOCTOR VISITS - RARE Strangely enough, most ailments did not require an attending physician. Fat meat or egg whites were common medical aids for boils. A broken arm at age five did require a real doctor visit. On the trip to Manchester, I was promised an ice cream cone if I wouldn't cry. I cried long and hard and by golly, I got my first ice cream cone anyway!
CHORES - Carrying wash water from the "dug" well to the house was a tiresome chore. Naturally, dad didn't provide an easy way to do this, such as hauling it on a sled. Lee and I seemed to fall victim to this chore. On one particular day, we were bickering as we did the carrying. Mom was aggravated and said to me, "Little boy, I've been laying one up for you." Finally, she could take no more and summoned me to her for the licking. Lee, being 6 years older and much wiser, said, "Gene, I wouldn't take a whipping if I were you". "I would run." Of course, I took his advice and started running around the house. Mom waited on the corner and grabbed me as I came around. As she flailed me, Lee stood by with a demure smile on his face, so proud of what he had done. Mom, being still wiser, noticed Lee's reaction and when she finished with me, she proceeded to give Lee a good one. That quickly dried my tears, and I was quite satisfied. I felt sure that whipping was well worth it.
CHILDREN - SEEN AND HEARD In years gone by, women of the same first name were distinguished by combining their name with their husband's first name. So Minnie Philpot was known as "Minnie Calvin." As a toddler I was visiting "Minnie Calvin" and enjoyed a bowl of her bean soup. After finishing my treat, I asked, "Do gnats get in your bean soup? They get in my mom's "poked" apples." I guess someone forgot to tell me our challenge with gnats in the smoked apples was not for public knowledge! In our house, children were often seen AND heard.
WALKING TO SCHOOL It took us fifteen minutes in the morning to get to school and an hour and a half to return by way of the Sam Parman's apple orchard, the Tip Brock spring, the walnut and persimmon trees and the Weaver and Wilson cane patches.
Nellie Gilbert, our teacher, recognized my intellectual level early on when she sent several us us to the chalkboard to write the sentence she read aloud, "The dog ran." All of my classmates had done their work and returned to their seats when she asked me what was wrong. Tearfully, I said, "I don't know how to spell "Thuh" [The]. This of course, brought forth a burst of laughter from the class. It's a miracle that my education went further on.
NOW STRIKE OUT! These memories which seem funny now were at the time quite serious to a little farm boy. We were able finally to gain our independence. I'm sure Mom was pushing us toward that when, on a rare occasion we were going someplace, she would line us up for inspection. With a wet washcloth and a firm grip on our jaws, she would inspect and touch us up for the trip. If we passed, she would say, "Now, strike out!"