”Boys, you better stop throwing stones onto that roof! When your dad get’s home, you’ll be sorry.” Harsh words from a mom who had her hands full with a couple of boys who were 8 and 10, and a few in the house still in plastic underpants. Of course we stopped, for a while, and went looking for mischief somewhere else. Just one of the many things I experienced as a young boy on our small farm in south-central Pennsylvania.
The year was 1950, and my younger brother and I were starting to experience life on the farm, and how sometimes it can get one into trouble. The barn, hog pen and chicken house all had tin roofs, and it was just so much fun to find flat stones and just skip them onto the roof of one of the farm buildings. I suppose we just liked the sound and the skip, I don’t know. To be sure, it wasn’t appreciated by the proprietors, especially when we chose bigger stones and they landed with a thud and made a hole in the tin. We were fairly warned, so on to something else.
Dad turned the hog pen into a nice work shop, and in that smorgasbord of nuts, bolts and paints, there surely was something we could get into. One of my favorite things to do was make gold or silver nuggets. We had just gotten TV and the influence of the Lone Ranger had rubbed off onto me. I would walk along the road and pick up a handful of stones (seems I had a thing for stones) about the size of a nickel. Then I would lay them out on a board, find a can of Dad’s spray paint, preferably gold, and spray them until they looked like gold nuggets from a stage coach robbery. After they were dry I would put them into a bag and pretend I was rich.
Sometimes being a man with a bag of gold was not enough, and I would change professions and become a baker of mud pies. This was also serious business. Not any old garden soil would do. It needed to be sifted so there were no lumps in the batter. Water was added to make them the right consistency. Then they were formed into a patty shape, decorated with dandelion flowers and left to bake in the hot sun. The next day we pretended to eat them.
Maybe the next day we would find an old tire or two from the shop, and roll them to the top of the hill behind our house. It then became a contest to see whose tire would roll the farthest. If it hit a big bump, jumped into the air, and kept on rolling, you were declared the winner.
Photo: iStockphoto.com/Kary Nieuwenhuis
A recent email informing me that my latest issue of “Looking Back” was in the mail made me do just that.
Some other summer delights back then were walking in the swift water after a heavy down pour. We should have been warned that walking in 3 inches of water was not safe!
Bugs and insects were always a big part of farm life. Horseflies and grass hoppers were our favorites. We would catch a horsefly and attach a piece of straw to his back, and then release him. Or we would pick up a grass hopper and make it spit tobacco by gently squeezing its sides. Insects on our farm weren’t very happy with us.
Dad saw fit to get us a BB gun. When shooting at targets or cans got boring, we switched to birds, but never hit any. Our favorite was shooting at the paw-paws along the road. We tried them and they tasted terrible, so we shot them.
Speaking of tasting things, have you ever eaten a peanut butter and molasses sandwich? Try it, you may like it. One of my all-time favorite things to eat as a boy was milk soup. Mom would get bottled whole milk from the milkman a couple times a week. Dad would get fresh white bread from the store. I would tear the bread into cubes, put them into a cereal bowl, add some sugar and top this with some cold, fresh whole milk. Fit for a king, or at least, this king. How about stewed crackers? Mom would steam saltines until they were soft, and serve them in a bowl with melted butter and milk. Back then, a delightful treat.
These are just a few of the things that bring joy to me as I “look back.” I am thankful for a very active, clear memory. God is good.