old push lawn mower was probably responsible for my loving gardening.
Actually it worked quite well since the blades were kept very sharp by
Dad, Lee Otis, and Grandpa Jones. Once I reached down to pull grass out
and found out how sharp they were. The gentle mowing of the machine kept
the bermuda grass clipped and attractive. Occasionally, I dream the yard
was like it was when we first moved there and in my dream I'm thinking,
"We will never get this lawn in shape." Strange at the time I don't
remember thinking that.
We walked to Union School
District 98 in Kay county, half way between Tonkawa and Ponca City,
Oklahoma. It would be nice if I could say it was a tough assignment, but
that wouldn't be true. Actually, it was a fun time especially in the
evening when we played along the road with our friends all the way home.
Union School gave me a
foundation and a love for learning to be ever appreciated. One of the
memories was being rewarded for work well done by being allowed to spend
time in the library reading. There was an overstuffed chair there and
loads of books. There was where my love for reading was really
established. Right away I learned there were far away places, beautiful
ladies, rich gentlemen, tall castles, and many other experiences just for
reaching to the book shelf.
We had long recesses, in
the morning, at noon, and in the afternoon. When we were called back to
class by Mrs. Hron standing at the top of the tall wide steps ringing her
long handled bell we were ready to settle into our studies. The rosy red
faces of our classmates showed they were as relaxed as we were. [John Hron,
the attorney, is grandson to John Hron who lived in the big brick house at
White Eagle. On the other corner of the property lived Ray Hron, John
Hron's brother. Ray Hron was married to my teacher, "Mrs. Hron."]
Basketball and baseball
were favorite sports. At this time I foolishly challenged one of the
bigger boys for the ball and in the scuffle had my collar bone broken. He
was just a big gangly farm boy at the time, all legs and arms. He was so
contrite and disturbed that it happened. My father was angry on one of
the rare occasions I ever saw him at the edge of loosing his temper. For
me it was a good lesson and an understanding not to come into competition
with someone bigger than I am, hard though it was.
The house in which we lived
was little more than a shack and I'm not exaggerating. For some reason it
didn't bother us in the least. Dad was busy repairing, rebuilding and
repainting everything and that actually was a fun time with us helping in
all the activities. We pulled shingles off the old roof and sailed them
like aeroplanes. We were allowed to chose paint colors for the walls and
looking back some were pretty wild. Bright yellow for the living room?
Dad compensated by choosing a little more mellow yellow and putting a dado
of a rich chocolate brown on the bottom half of the room. The old
furniture of grandmother's was still in place and there were large desks,
unusual willow pieces and small in tables. They combined with our
furniture and worked for us.
Week ends could be spent
listening to the battery charged radio, "The Shadow," "Green Hornet,"
"Red Skelton," "The Lone Ranger," and others.
Mother and Dad were totally
absorbed in family activities. I don't ever remember being bored. There
was always something going. Once Mother invited a friend over for dinner
and she went to end of planning and preparing. The old shack had been
transformed in to a quiet little country home with soft lighting coming
from the mantles of Aladdin lamps on the table where she served the
special dishes. There was an air of mystery about the evening and the
woman talked about it for all the years I knew her. Even in her old age on
occasion she would recall what a transformation had been made from a shack
of a house to a comfortable space.
These were the fifties.
There were modern life styles all about. I find it strange that we were
never drawn to them or felt left out while we lived there close to the
Salt Fork River.