Country Whispers

Country Whispers
June 2014

by Tamara Hillman


It’s June, it’s June! I can only imagine what that means to you folks up North—you had a winter for the history books, and spring wasn’t much better!  Let’s hope you have sunshine and warm days at the beach and in the fields the next three months…
As you know, we have far too much heat & sunshine here in Arizona during summer months, so I have many indoor projects by the air-conditioner to keep me busy like you folks do in the cold, snowy months of winter by the stove—it’s just indoor/outdoor living in reverse.
I’ll admit I miss the freedom of our acres on the ranch in summer though. (I even miss the snow at Christmastime.) As kids, it was the only place to be. My first cousins were either at our house, or us at theirs, so we were more like brothers & sisters. What trouble one couldn’t think of getting into, the other could, but it was all innocent fun in those days. They joined right in with our neighborhood friends and ran the fields with us.
I remember one time when the neighbor boy, Rusty Baskin, and my brother built a super-duper underground fort. They wouldn’t let girls near it ‘til it was finished. I was quite impressed when first I entered into that homemade wonderland. Mom was petrified we’d all be suffocated in a cave-in, so she made the boys fill it in when she saw it—moms sure can put a damper on good, ol’, rollin’ in the dirt fun.
I remember another project that didn’t go over so well with Dad. It was a winter fort this time that the boys were building, and in the process of using some old scrap boards left out by the barn, and Dad’s hammer & nails. The boys accidentally left a board half buried in the snow with an old, rusty nail sticking out of it. Unbeknownst to Dad when he went out to milk in that dark, five o’clock hour that night, he stepped squarely on it, and it went clear through his rubber boots, through his cowboy boot, and into the pad of his foot. OUCH!  Well, before Dad went on to the barn, he came back to the house, whipped Clyde’s butt, doctored his own wounds, and  made Clyde go out with a flashlight to fill in the fort before he could eat dinner. Punishments were swift and hard coming from most dads back then, and though I think kids need far more discipline nowadays than they get, I’m glad the beatings have stopped.
We slept outside on starlit, summer nights when the house was unbearable—no air- conditioning back then, and it was definitely over 100 degrees most summer days. No doubt the crickets & spiders crawled over us all night for we weren’t rich enough to own sleeping bags—just blankets spread out. Of course, my brothers, I, and the cousins giggled ‘til much later than our regular bedtimes since we were out of earshot from the folks.
The sun was blistering hot by day, and we ran half naked to stay cool, so you can only imagine the sunburns we’d get. A great game we’d play was to see who could peel the longest strip of fried skin off each other’s back without tearing it. We had some doozies—no sunscreen in those days!  No wonder we all have skin cancers removed often now that we’re old.
We rode our bikes for miles into town collecting beer and pop bottles to trade for candy at the General Store in town. I have no idea why I can still name every kid we ran with back then, every neighbor in a five mile radius, and every store along main street, plus who owned it, and who worked at the post office or bank in our little one-horse town, yet I daily walk into a room and have no idea why I went there. And don’t even ask where I’ve hidden all my treasures so I’ll be sure to remember right where they are when I need them. The mind is a tricky thing when short term memory goes awry, but I think God had a plan to keep our old bodies well exercised running around lookin’ for our stuff, and retracing our steps to remember why we went into that room!
I loved the honesty, peaceful, and respectful life we lived when I was growing up. I wish my kids and grandkids could have lived that life. No one locked their house or car, we feared no molestation, (at least where I grew up) because everyone knew there’d be a lynchin’ if they were ever caught doing harm of any sort to a child. I’m not so naive as to think children were never molested or abused by their own parents, (I knew of some of that through the grapevine) but sadly, people stayed out of other people’s personal business back then—even the cops.
I always compare us to wild, little Indians as kids because we really had the run of our valley each and every day. That’s not to say, we didn’t have rules and chores to do, but oh, the FREEDOM that will never be again! I miss barefeet running through the garden.
I just received an invitation to my 50th high school reunion. Is it possible those kids of my youth with no wrinkles, baldness, pot bellies, canes or walkers could have been graduated all this time? I personally don’t feel sixty-eight, but here it is—proof positive!
Have a great summer, folks!I Love Summer
Granny Tam

Below you will find some memories of old in a poem you farm kids can all relate to….

 

Down By The Creek by Tamara Hillman

Mountain Loop Hwy Creek.

Oh, so many memories
down by our old crick—
water for the cattle,
the old salt lick,

Catchin’ pollywogs in spring,
runnin’ thru’ the grass,
settlin’ under shady trees,
secrets shared at last,

Wadin’ in the water,
restin’ on the shore,
fishin’ in the summer—
who could ever ask for more?

Daddy on an inner tube
splashin’ every kid—
after workin’ in the fields
that’s what he sometimes did.

Boys to meet there on the sly
when courtin’ time arrived,
younger siblings spyin’—
on this they simply thrived.

Mama walkin’ evenin’s
with baby in her arms,
while babbling brook of water
reassured her of no harm…

Memories I recollect
like learning nursery rhymes—
I’ll tell my children of the crick
where I spent youthful times.

 

Tamara Hillman
©2011

 



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