One of the cool things about this blog is I never know where you have joined the story.
One radio station or another, East Moline, KSHE, I never know. So, if this is redundant, my apologies.
My early life was largely spent on a farm in the middle of nowhere.
Small town restless and bored, this was truly a place where you had to make your own fun.
Ava, Missouri, population at the time 2,504, now over 3,000. Beautiful northern Ozark Mountain range.
Pleasures were small and fun could mean anything from watching a big old frog swallow a firecracker and the aftermath to listening to the sounds of nature on a hot summer night. There was a symphony played out every evening that drew you to a bedroom window when everyone else was asleep. I was always fascinated with being outside back then. Again, we go back to the smell. Pristine.
I recently came upon a story about the two kids in Maryland who walk to school every day and how the parents are now being prosecuted for allowing their kids to do that.
My mother would have a few things to say about this. She firmly believed in letting her kids find their way. For better or worse, we knew what we could do and not do.
My mother came from a very hard-scrapple background growing up in Simmons MO, which is south of Solo, which is in the middle of nowhere.
Getting beat down on a regular basis made my mother tough as nails. She finished fights started by her brothers and could smoke and drink the best under the table.
"True Wisdom Only Comes From Pain"
One of the highlights about living on the farm is you could be gone from sun up to sun down and no one paid any attention. Freedom. It was encouraged.
"Go get the stink blowed off ya" was my mom's favorite saying.
One of my favorite things to do on the weekend in the summer when I could bribe my grandfather into handling my chores was go exploring.
I'd put together a pack of things necessary to survive a day or two in the wild. Innertube for floating, tent, small camp stove, fishing pole, transistor radio,etc etc.
I'd leave on Friday and walk, following a creek until it became dark or impassible or until I got tired of lugging the stuff around.
Usually, if there were fish around , I'd float and drop a line behind me. Most always, I caught something and could be assured of dinner. There were a couple of times I wasn't so lucky. I'd stop at a suitable place and set up camp, usually, in the most remote God forsaken spot ever. I liked it like that. I would build a fire, cook fish and just hang. Little victories. Character. Perseverence.
I was 14.
Survival man got nothing on this boy.
Every once in awhile, I'd get an unexpected visitor, but I figured if they caught my karma, me knowing I was in their house, we'd be cool. And we were.
I was 14.
It was that kind of freedom, knowing I could go anywhere for as long as I want at 14 that made me the independent person I am now. That gene has been passed to my daughters as I know they each moved out of their house at the legal age and never moved back.
We move in small circles.
While I was there, I hated the farm. I know now it provided the strength and fortitude to know what real poverty was like. It made me tough. Like I know what tough is.
The fun stuff was pure. We had swimming holes. Vera Cruz, Big Piney, Flat Rock, etc.
We had two TV stations on a good night from a town 60 miles away.
We had AM radio.
We had a party line. Four shorts rings was for "old Mrs. Harris".
We had horses. Ours were named Scout and Gayboy. Yeah. Gayboy. I was 14.
We had discipline, having to get up every morning, do the chores, go to school, come home, do the chores, do homework, listen to the radio, go to bed, get up every morning, etc.
But it seemed just about every Saturday morning, there would be a number of people gathered around a table with lots of food.
Eggs, bacon, pancakes, all cooked in a skillet with lard and farm fresh butter, recently churned and salted. And laughter. For all her faults, my mother had the greatest sense of humor. And so did all the McNews, I guess it's how they coped.
While my family had it's problems in the middle of nowhere, you felt like it was somewhere.
It was a time when we were all alive.
In a land where I believed we would live forever.
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
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