Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Grandma's Garden of Eden
As a child, I had no idea how a trip to my grandmother's garden could be such a sensual experience. Only by looking back, can I truly understand why it was
Grandma’s house was the heart of the farm, even though there were two chicken coops, a smoke house, and a large barn. Grandma only had a fourth grade education, but she made the farm’s heart beat.
My grandmother’s garden was located on the sloping ground opposite of the privy and between her house and the barn. At the farthest edge of the turkey wire fort, was one of my favorite spots. It would lure me down the length of her large Garden of Eden and into a forbidden zone, by a savory siren’s call. It held an oasis of seven rhubarb plants that spread their wide, verdant leafy fronds, shading the gangly stalks as they grew from slender shoots until they became small trees. My mouth began to water just thinking about the wonderfully sour taste of its stringy yet tender flesh. Raids on the tasty plants were forbidden by Grandma, but I was always drawn to snitch one of the slender stems whenever we visited.
My second favorite spot was among the maze of the many tomato plants, whose thick rambling vines spread across a mat of yellow straw. Nestled in the pale green jungle were the treasured ruby jewels. Those succulent and luscious red gems called my name. I responded by trespassing into their growing field, selecting one of the fiery orbs. I would cradle it my hand, finally deciding to pluck it from the vine. Brushing against the vine’s raggedly velvet leaves, they would release a spicy and pungent aroma. In the palm of my hand, the sun-warmed fruit would transfer its solar power through my skin to the nerve endings, sending signals to my brain. The radiated energy caused me to quiver in anticipation of its fresh, acidy flavor being placed on my tongue.
I pressed the smooth-skinned love-apple to my lips. The warmth of its kiss penetrated my receptors of pleasure and I opened my mouth to have my first taste. I closed my eyes as the sensuous feeling of my teeth penetrating the tender flesh and then the heated juices coursing down my chin to wash across my bare chest. Bite after bite, I consumed the wonderfully savory fruit. The thought of eating another sun-warmed, garden-fresh tomato is a memory inducing experience.
The rest of the garden was a battlefield between the crops and the weeds that would try to invade. They were eliminated by a short handled, much worn hoe. Grandma would chop between the rows of beans, peppers, and beets. She would encourage the army of cabbage, peppers, and lettuce plants that marched down the garden in rows, keeping the no-man’s land open between them and the dark green, Indian-like feather headdresses of the onions that rose in tall rows.
my favorite place to visit.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The final installment of the Southwestern Pennsylvania poem. I've tried to cover a lot of history and heritage in a short amount of time and words. I hope that you've shared some of these experiences too and my words have brought them to mind.

I’ve toured the forts of Ligonier and Necessity
Walking the woods where Indian’s voice rang loud and free.
In history, we rebelled at paying whiskey’s tax.

I’ve been to festivals where linen thread’s spun from flax.

The Quakers and Amish chose to make this land their own

Hunters and trappers carried knives with handles of bone.

Your religious liberties drew folk from far and wide.

Boys became men in your wilds as their mettle was tried.

Conestoga wagons and carriages plied your trails.

Peddlers and freighters hauled supplies in bundles and bales.


I’ve ridden rides at Idlewild and Kennywood Park

And explored your caves and caverns gloomy and dark.

Some folk have used crossing rods, dousing to find water.

Jugs, crocks, and bowls were formed by the hands of a potter.

I’ve been awed by beautiful barns, bathed in moon’s soft glow.

And been inside of grist mills once powered by streams swift flow.

Pennsylvania, rich with history and things to do

From your museums to aquarium and zoo.

Hayrides and sleigh rides and riding the Duquesne incline;

Bakeries, breweries, markets, and places to dine.


Views from Mt. Washington, stunning when Pittsburgh’s lights shine

At Amish farms, bright hued quilts hang to dry on a line.

Your mines delved deep seeking your veins of coal and iron ore

And walked through groves of chestnut, oak, elm, and sycamore.

Your inns gave provided respite along your roads and pikes.

I’ve watched smithies shaping rods into nails and spikes.

Your lands shaped your people and they reshaped your land

With pick, axe, gun, shovel, or whatever was at hand.

Western Pennsylvania’s shared your bounties in the past.

Your mark in history’s journal’s wide ranging and vast.


Friday, July 25, 2014

This is the continuation of the Southwestern Pennsylvania poem.
I’ve watched the Chestnut Ridge turn from green to red and gold
And toured festivals where steam belches from tractors old.
I’ve read the words your patriotic sons dared to speak.
They fought for their liberty and to protect the weak.
I’ve fished for trout in brooks fed by icy mountain springs
And been scared by Ruffed Grouse, exploding with thunderous wings.
Pennsylvania, your streams chuckle and your rivers roar
Still keeping your covered bridges and small country store.
Your trails have turned to highways, your ferries are bridges
Building roads over and through thick glacial ridges.
I’ve been to Highland Games celebrating the Scots’ past
and worked factories where huge valves were poured and cast.
Your part in underground railway, helped to free black slaves.
Walking on your lakeshores, I’ve heard the soft lapping waves.
Osprey fly over your lakes with fish clutched in its claw.
I’ve eaten sandwiches piled high with French fries and slaw.
Germans, Irish, Polish, and Scots came to live and die.
They came to build their homes and shops, to work, sell, and buy.
They raised their children, passed on old ways while making the new.
Western Pennsylvania, all your children salute you.
I’ve climbed the steep hill crowned by Jumonville cross.
Finding love in those hills to raise children and taste loss.
I’ve watched storm clouds gather, then erupt with lightning streak.
The touch of your pale winter’s sunshine warms my chilled cheek.
I’ve driven the Wilderness Trail from Cumberland Gap
Through steep rugged lands where brave men came to hunt and trap.
Rivers that formed the Ohio were the settlers’ roads,
Local built flatboats carried them and their household goods.
Your small homesteads grew, fed by river’s trading flow
to become towns, earning wealth from above and below.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

This is a lengthy poem that I wrote touching on the history and the people of Southwestern Pennsylvania. I plan to share it in three sections. Thanks for reading it.

Southwest Pennsylvania

I’ve heard the Monongahela rush through wooded glade
And smelled the richness of your soil as it’s turned by spade.
I’ve walked your verdant valleys and climbed your gentle hills.
Been told tales of “revenuers” hunting for “shine” stills.
A few of your farmers still walk behind horse and plow.
I’ve seen tired miners trudge home with coal dust darkened brow.
Pennsylvania, your rivers were gateways to the west,
Your wilderness was haven for those who were oppressed.
Your mountains rise as monuments to all who were slain
In lands purchased with sacrifice of blood, sweat, and pain.

I’ve walked the Youghiogheny, fishing her small streams too
Awed as bright morning light sparkles on blankets of dew.
I’ve eaten buckwheat cakes in golden-brown steaming stacks
And walked in fields that were cleared of trees by sweat and axe.
I’ve been to Ohiopyle and rafted waters white,
Visiting Fallingwater and Kentuck; homes built by Wright.
Your lands are rich with history’s strong cultural mix.
Your life blood still flows in your rivers and “cricks.”
You’re a diverse land born of your people and places,
A heritage that’s etched in your son’s hearts and faces.

I’ve walked the land at “the Point” where three rivers meet,
A land where the French and English trod with marching feet.
Great beehive ovens were built to bake huge piles of coke.
Steel was forged in your factories amid flames and smoke.
Mountain laurel grows with pale blooms and dark leaves.
I’ve watched women working their looms, making rag rug weaves.
Your daughters and sons dared to live in wild frontier lands
Carving homes and farms from the wilderness with bare hands.
The harshness of their world was deeply etched on each face;
Hunting, clearing, planting, fighting: all to claim their space.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Food For Thought

When I eat certain foods, I think of certain people. With old Mrs. Carrie Hall, my mom and dad’s neighbor, I think of her soft sugar cookies, strawberry pies, and her fresh baked bread. Another of my friend’s mom would use the tube biscuits, cut a donut hole, and fry them in bacon grease and oil mixture. While they were still hot, she would dredge them through a glaze of confectioner’s sugar and milk. They were as good as any donut made by any other company.
My grandmother Miner made the most delicious chicken salad. It consisted of only chopped, boiled chicken, chicken broth, salt, pepper, and chopped dill pickle. She made this mostly when we culled the brood at the end on the egg laying season. Pieces of chicken at my grandmother Beck came with the story of how the chicken was divided when my dad was a child. The thing that I most remembered was that my grandma, Anna, always ate the back and tail of the chicken. She always said that she liked it, but I always thought that it was the only part of the bird that was left once the chicken was divided.
My Aunt Rachel Peck would make mashed potato/peanut butter fudge. All of us kids could hardly wait until it was ready to eat. My Aunt Cora Hyatt, I remember that she drank her tea, straight, hot or cold, without cream OR sugar.
 What got me thinking about food was what I made for lunch today. I made mashed potatoes, sauerkraut, and hot dogs and my aunt Violet Bottomly is what I remember at her house. She would cook the hot dogs in the kraut and serve it with the potatoes. She’d cut the dogs into thinner wheels; bite sized chunks which made an impression on me.
At my aunt Ina Nicholson’s home, it was the fresh vegetables from her garden. The delicious, juicy tomatoes freshly picked and washed, green onions, and sweet green bell peppers. They were served at each meal with whatever she and my mom cooked. Sometimes it was with fresh caught fish from Buckeye Lake.
My aunt Cosey Brothers Had a large garden as well, but she had a large family and needed it. What I remember from her menu was her hamburgers. She used bread crumbs, catsup, and onions to stretch the ground beef. It also enhanced the flavor. Served on homemade buns, they were delicious.
Finally, speaking of hamburgers, I think of my mom, Sybil Beck. One Sunday, she made hamburgers for the family, one for each. A platter of tomatoes, lettuce, and onions claimed the center of the table. Another saucer of sliced American cheese held a place of honor. Everyone had built their sandwich and started to eat. Mom had stacked lettuce, tomato, onion, and cheese on her bun. She took a bite and as she chewed, she saw a burger patty still on the serving platter. When she swallowed, she asked, “Who didn’t get their burger?”
All of a sudden, it hit her. She was the one who hadn’t picked up her burger. She had concentrated so much with the condiments that she forgot to put the patty on her sandwich. Every time she would serve hamburgers, someone would say, “Who forgot their hamburger?”

Friday, July 18, 2014

Passing Like Ships…

My father-in-law, Bud Morrison, used to tell me a story of two vendors that passed each other going in opposite directions, every day along the same stretch of highway as they serviced several stores and restocked their products. One was a bread truck, delivering fresh bakery goods and the other was a dairy truck, delivering milk, cream, and cottage cheese.
The man in the bakery truck chewed tobacco. He developed the habit of spitting the juice from his quid of tobacco onto the milk truck as they passed going in opposite directions. By the time the dairy truck reached the next grocery store, much of the spittle had dried and was difficult to remove. This quickly got under the skin of the dairy driver. It was so offensive.
He made the decision to hurry through his deliveries to meet the driver of the bread truck while he was still unloading his wares. He caught the bakery driver and told him, “That is disgusting and I want you to quit spitting on my truck. I’m warning you,” then unloaded the dairy products, ignoring the bakery truck driver.

The next morning, the dairy driver found out that nothing had changed. When the two trucks passed, the baked goods driver spit a stream of brown spittle from the open window of his vehicle and onto the windscreen of the milk truck. He was furious. He had already tried to talk with the other truck jockey and hadn’t resolved anything.

He made a plan for the following day. Removing one of his products from his inventory, he placed it at his side. Everything was ready. The dairy driver picked up the cardboard container of chocolate mile. It was a full quart, not one of the smaller containers like kids could get in school.
As they passed, the dairyman tossed the quart out his side window and onto the windshield of the bakery truck.
The driver of the milk truck told Bud, “When I looked back in my side view mirror, all that I saw were brake lights and a bakery truck swerving side to side as it slid to a stop. The great thing was that he stopped spitting on my truck.”

This is one of the stories that Bud enjoyed telling to us.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I am going to write a few odds and ends that may generate a paragraph or just a few lines, but they popped into my head, so I will pass them along. I want to write them before I forget them. The first was a weird, pizza-like thing that we ate while driving through Canada on our way to Newfoundland and Labrador. It’s called a Donair. Now, that it’s written on paper, I’ll never want to think of it again.
Another thought as I mowed, was the ornamental bamboo, my wife Cindy wheedled and cajoled me, saying, “It’s ornamental. They say it won’t spread like other bamboos.” She was wrong and I am left to deal with it and all of its attempts to reproduce and spread. I am caught on the horns of a dilemma. The bamboo was one of the last plants that Cindy planted. I would hate to destroy it and do whatever it takes to keep it from spreading. It has reached about a square of eighteen inches, but is constantly sending out shoots. I keep it check so far by mowing them off and mowing close to the main clump of the bamboo.
Does anyone know a person who works at the Pittsburgh Zoo? I have bamboo to harvest for the pandas, anytime and as much as there is. It’s free of charge.
The mowing made me think of my last hair cut. The barber isn’t the best, but he’s close and he’s cheap. He’s known for his white walls. White walls are cutting the hair so close that the skin under the hair on both sides of the head show through and glow white. The last two times I have had my hair cut there, I had problems. The first time, my sideburns were off about an 1/8 of an inch. It could happen. So I trimmed it myself and didn’t say anything.
The last hair cut, he trimmed my bushy eyebrows. I didn’t notice until I got home and took a shower, then looked in the mirror. It was a scary sight. One eyebrow was nearly gone. The other was trimmed carefully and looked good. I didn’t know what to do until I thought to trim the other closer to match and to then I used the dye made for beards and moustaches on them. It made them dark enough to see, even though they weren’t very long or pronounced. I guess that I could have used some kind of make-up that my daughter used on her eyes, but I didn’t think of it at the time.
Will I go back to him? Probably, it’s only hair and I plan to tell him to be more careful. I know that I can’t put hair back on, but hair will grow.
I found an old pair of scrub bottoms in a dresser drawer, as I was cleaning. I thought I’d try them on. They were mediums and I’m now a large (Minimally). I had just seen a video of a girl trying to climb into a pair of jeans, two sizes too small and that’s what I felt like. I wiggled and pulled. I managed to get into them, but I think that they are going to be passed onto someone else. I don’t foresee myself losing weight in the near future.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Like a Rugg

Everyone likes a Rugg, right? Not always, but yesterday was the Rugg reunion, so there were Ruggs all over the place. Old ones and young ones and they came in all shapes and sizes. My grandmother Miner’s maiden name was Rugg and still carrying on the tradition, my daughter Anna and I went. It’s a time, like at any other family reunion, to see people that do not live close or if they live close, they live separate lives. It’s great to be able to see new family members brought into the family by marriage or by births. Sometimes it is hard to remember all of names, especially for me. Some of the people are regular attendees and others visit occasionally, but I like to visit and catch up on what is new in the other relatives’ lives.
Everyone brings a covered dish of food and a dessert, trying to outdo the dish that you brought the year before. The chicken is paid for by the monies collected from previous years. We used to “pass the hat” and take up collections, but for the last several years have started a “white elephant” auction.
Each family brings an item or two, or three… well, you get the idea, and then auctions them off. It still is a basic passing of the hat, but at least you end up with a prize. None of the items are a zonk, but all are wrapped up or placed in gift bags with a note saying whether it is for a child, male, or female and the bidding begins. It’s not always the gift, but bidding against another family member for fun or “one-up-man-ship” that causes the bids to rise. Amid whoops of laughter or cheers when the gift is unwrapped, the good-natured jesting erupts when it is a gag gift or when a real prize emerges from the paper.
Sometimes, people will bring albums and share, some old and some new. The older photos, we try to help identify the person if the owner of the picture isn’t sure of who it is or doesn’t know who it is. Sometimes, we sit and share stories with the younger generation, trying to pass on the heritage and history of the family.
Sharing of family stories was my reason that I started my blog spot, not that my thoughts are better than another persons, but that I wanted to get stories of the family recorded. I know that I’ve lost tales that my grandfathers told of their lives and that saddens me. Unless something happens that jogs my memory, they will be lost forever. That is why I began to record the thoughts as they came to mind. I want my children to have those thoughts to read and share, if they choose.
I tell relatives, if you have a story, let me know, often I just haven’t thought of it and just need the idea refreshed in my memory to share.

Until next year, to all of my cousins, first, second, third, etc. I hope to see you then.

Friday, July 11, 2014

I am not sure if this was posted or not, but it was so funny to me, but not senior management. I am posting it because I like it.
We had a housekeeper who had the job of collecting trash throughout the hospital and disposing of it in an outside receptacle. He had a container cart that had sides and a door to close the garbage inside. It was about two feet wide, five feet long, and six feet high, including the wheels. It had a side door that allowed easier access to put the bags inside and to remove them. The cart had to be wheeled along an area of asphalt at the back of the hospital to the outside crusher. The lot had a slight downhill slope toward the outside trash bin.
One evening when the housekeeper was taking a load of trash to the outside container, the cart started to move faster than he could walk. The bottom of the cart caught his foot, he slipped and fell. The cart ran up over part of his body, trapping him there on the asphalt beneath the cart. Because of the downward slope and the weight of the cart, he couldn’t push it off. He tried calling for help, but he was outside at the back of the hospital and there was no one to hear him.
About forty-five minutes or so later, one of the hospital’s security guards was making his rounds. He saw the garbage cart sitting on the edge of the parking lot with no one around it. He thought that was unusual and after scratching his head for a few seconds, he wandered over to investigate. He found the housekeeper trapped beneath the wagon.
All he could see of the housekeeper was his head, his shoulder and part of his chest sticking out from under the cart. He helped to move the cart so the housekeeper could free himself. Once the guard made sure the housekeeper was okay, he helped to guide the cart to the compacter to unload. The housekeeper took a break to relax and then went back to work.
That night or the next day someone had used a piece of chalk to draw the outline of a person on the tarmac, near where the housekeeper had fallen. It was just like the old time movies, where the cops would draw the outline of a murder victim. The image of the splayed arms, legs and head was there for all to see. Most of the people thought it was funny, but not management. They were so upset, they threatened to fire the person who had drawn it and they would have done it if they had found out who drew it.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Cindy’s Grandparents Johnson

Cindy’s grandparents lived in a small white house near Mill Run, Pennsylvania. Her grandfather’s name was Truman Johnson. He was a short statured man, built much like my granddad Miner. Truman’s nickname was King and that’ the name by which most people knew him. He loved to laugh, loved his garden, and loved to get his grandkids to comb his hair. He would pay them a nickel to do it. I believe that he worked in the coal mines and was retired by the time that I met him. He came from a large family, but supposedly the family moved west leaving him and his brother behind. His brother, Henry, was a carnival man and lived near Columbus Ohio. Cindy and her mom would make a trek out to visit him and his family as well as making a “school-clothes shopping run” to the J.C. Penny outlet.

Cindy’s grandmother, Mabel Agnes, had been a Hiltabitel. Her grandmother was Amanda, and that is where we got the name for our older daughter Amanda. (One of my great-grandmother’s name was Amanda as well.) Mabel also warned us if we used either of her names to name one of our girls that she’d be upset. She was a slender woman who kept her house spotless, but always welcomed people to visit, very friendly and pleasant. She had a candy dish on her dining room table that was filled with those pink, wintergreen flavored lozenges. One thing I never could understand. My wife said that Pepto Bismol made her sick, but she could suck on those wintergreen candies and enjoy them. She had Forsythia bushes that lined her driveway and she would tease my wife that they were named For-Cynthia bushes.
Her house was not very far from where my father-in-law Bud and Retha lived. Bud always teased that his Mabel snooped on them and he was glad their bedroom was on the opposite side of the house. After Mabel moved to a nursing home, Bud found a pair of binoculars in her kitchen, near the window with the best view of Bud’s place and said that confirmed that she watched them. In her defense, there were birds and animals that frequented her backyard. Now the funniest part of this “snooping” story is that when Bud died, he was laid to rest in the cemetery plot right next to Mabel Agnes and his body will spend eternity beside her.

Mabel passed away at the ripe-old age of ninety-three, still loving to have her hair curled and done just-so. We have photos of her with a party hat and a birthday cake of her and her cake on her 90th birthday.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Going Fourth

This was the first Independence Day without my dad, Carl. He loved the Fourth of July. I am sure that it was for many reasons, but especially for the fireworks. He would drive for miles to see them. My mom, Sybil, tolerated them, the loud boomers bothered her. She did like to see the colored, cascading sparkles brightening the night skies. Often we would go to the Mill Run Baptist Church for their festivities. Food, ice cream, and cold drink sales, music, and even a cake walk drew people to visit. But most people came and stayed for the firework display.
The church was on one side of Route 711 and the fireworks were shot from a field on the other side. With a loud thump and a streak of fire, the rocket would escape its launch tube to lift high in the air. It would slow and arc slightly the upturned faces of the crowd, before exploding in a myriad of colors, shapes, and loudness. O-o-ohs and a-a-ahs escaped the crowd’s lips in appreciation of the bright aerial display.
Colors of red, white, blue, green, silver, gold and mixtures of the hues would blossom and expand into pyrotechnical flowers. Sometimes one explosion would expand into several, showing different colors. Men, women, and children would marvel at the repeated and varied explosions.
Occasionally Dad would go to firemen’s fairs for a burger and the fireworks. One night we were home and in the distance, we could hear the thunder of firework explosions. Dad said, “I’m going upstairs to see if can see them.” Soon we heard a thump, thump, thump. Mom herded us together saying, “We need to go. Dad wants us to see the fireworks. If we don’t go, he’ll be upset.”
When we entered the living room, Dad was in a heap at the bottom of the oak stairs. He had slipped on the wood. My sister, Kathy, had used a dusting clothe that had Pledge on it, making the treads slippery.
I had the charcoal grill out to cook several hamburgers. It reminded me of many Sundays that Dad would invite us to the home place and serve hamburgers from the grill. Usually there was a salad, potato salad, and watermelon.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Normal Delivery

I’m not sure what a person can call a normal delivery, not of a child, but of ideas and creativity, but I had a delivery of mine yesterday by a man dressed in a brown uniform, not a stork. Anna heard footsteps coming up the stairs to our front porch, glanced out a window, and jumped up to greet the delivery man. Coming into the living room, she wore an undecipherable smile.
I hadn’t heard the van or the footsteps and was unaware that someone had visited. She said, “This thing is heavy.” She had a moderately large cardboard in her grasp at arms’ length, just above her knees.
I knew in an instant what was inside the box. It contained the first printings of the book I’d written. It was strange how this book got started and evolved. The first story happened to a response to a challenge to write a detective story that had person who received some guidance from a muse. When I saw the challenge, I thought, “That’s crazy.” I had no desire or interest in creating a character to solve mysteries. I did take a flyer, because it was being passed out to all who attended the meeting. I sat down to write on my blog spot and saw the flyer for the detective story. I smiled to myself thinking, “Why not lampoon it? Why not spoof it?” That started my wheels in my warped brain to turn.
I decided on using a retired Pittsburgh police detective named Tommy-Two-Shoes, a nickname he’d acquired as a kid having to wear a mismatched pair of shoes. To amuse myself, I thought of using Charlie Brown as his muse. The story consumed me. I had it written and typed within twenty-four hours. Thoughts woke me off and on through the night. I would get up and joy the notes down as my fertile brain threw them out. When I shared the story with other writers, they liked the story, but felt that Charlie Brown wouldn’t be the best muse. His conversation with adults was limited and was not prescient enough to be a muse. So, I initially changed Charlie Brown for Adrian Monk. It opened up a lot more possibilities, but because I didn’t think I would have permission to use the name in publication, I changed the character again to a deceased uncle named Aidan Leclerc.
One story led to another and after a push (Actually quite a few pushes.) from an editor and friend, Irene, the book became a reality. A writer can never overemphasize the necessity for a good editor, and mine was great. Thanks Irene.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

At WalMart today, I met a cousin and shared that I have written a book. He follows my blog and asked about the book and where he could preview it. I thought I would share what my aditor shared with me.
Tommy-Two-Shoes available 27 June.
Pre-order listings:


Barnes & Noble:


Google Play:

These are all the places where people will be able to pre-order your ebook. Other listings will be created the week of the 24th once it is officially released.

Book listing without pre-order capability, but people can download samples (and already have):

See More

Fielder’s Choice

I started to write a blog to record stories from our family before the translucency of my thought processes become opaque and are lost to my children. The story I will relate today is one my dad told to us about a time he was riding in the car with his family. They were driving along a road through a rural area. As the car was passing a hay field on a farm, the farmer and his wife were making hay. The farmer was in the field, tossing the hay into a hay wagon. The wife was on top of the hay mound that was being formed on the wagon bed.
Now, this was a time when women didn’t work in the fields. It was a time when only immigrant women went into the fields with their husbands. If the farmer had sons, they worked with him. If he was rich enough and could afford to hire workers, he did that rather than to have his wife or daughters work in the fields. It wasn’t taboo, but it wasn’t something that the farmer did lightly, either.
The farmer’s wife was tamping down the hay with her bare feet that her husband was tossing onto the wagon. Each pitchfork of hay had to be compressed to increase the amount of hay on the wagon before it had to be driven out of the field and into the barn to unload the hay into mows. The fewer times that the farmer had to interrupt the loading, cut the amount of time that the farmer spent in the field.
The older hay wagons had two uprights at each end of the wagon bed to control and stabilize the load of hay. The double poles rose almost eight feet above the bed of the wagon. When the load reached about ten feet high, it was time to take the hay in and unload it in the mows of the barn.
That was some background and now to finish the story, the farmer was tossing the hay and the wife was on top of the load of hay, when she heard the car engine, she attempted to jump down from the load of hay and the skirt of her dress caught on the tips of the upright. She hung on the uprights dangling in midair. The skirt of her dress slid up under her armpits, trapping her there. The bottom two thirds of the woman was open to the air and the woman wasn’t wearing any underclothing.
It would have taken the old farmer too long to untangle and free his wife from the trap into which she fell. In a split second decision, the farmer removed his hat and covered his wife’s private parts until my grandfather’s car drove past. My dad was sure that as soon as they drove out of sight, the old man rescued his embarrassed wife.
The wife would have been embarrassed on several levels. The first was that she had been caught in the field working, the second was that she hadn’t heard our approach earlier, the third was that she was clumsy and had caught her skirt, and the last was obvious. It was quickly exposed to anyone reading this story. I do have to commend the farmer and give him credit for his fast decision to protect his wife’s privacy.