Monday, June 2, 2014

A Flawed Legacy 2

I think I got ahead of myself.   I'm still on the farm.   Not ready for the Air Corps

The thing that used to bug me was that I seldom heard from my Mother except for the times she would bring her boy friends up to the farm.   You need to understand my Mother was a beautiful woman, but a boy needs hugs and not just from their Grandma.  Looking back Nan was good at hugging and wiping away an occasional tear. Most of the time I had a particular rock out behind the tool shed where I shed my tears. 

I had good play mates.  The Meharg boys, but young Lee was too small to be a friend.  I can still picture him coming down the road to our place with a diaper hanging down and it was often obvious that he had filled it shortly after leaving home.   Hobart was not quite my age, but he was smart and I liked to listen to him.  Jack's father was a bonafide drunk and there were two older brothers that my Grandad told me to stay away from.  But Jack and I were the same age and we traded secrets so that I would get to hear what his older brothers were telling him.  Don was a year older and one of the best baseball players I would ever know.  He was not into playing except for the contests we used to have seeing who could throw and break the glass insulators on the telephone lines.  Further down the road, we had Ernie and Jean.  Ernie was older and a great HS football player.  I was in love with Jean from the moment I first saw her and we used to walk to school together - reciting the scripts from the radio programs we had heard the previous evening.  Jack and Jean were my 8th grade classmates along with Donna who came from the other side of the school house.

Speaking of the school house, in the winters during my 7th and 8th years, I got up early and started the fire in the furnace that kept the school warm.  I loved the job as that gave me an opportunity to chat with our teacher - Mina Mosher Armstrong.  She inspired me by the way she could quote me whenever I had to talk before the class and - as a matter of fact, the whole school.  What I did not like about her was the ledge in front of the room where you were required to stand on the balls of your feet, your heels dangling and after 10 seconds you believed your legs would break.  That is, if you broke any of her rules.  Once was enough for me.

We had a bus to take us to school in the morning, but we got home when our parents or neighbors were there to take us.  It was 3 and 1/2 miles, so I liked to see how far I could run along the way.  I remember running the distance a couple of times.  I was not an athlete, but I was a good listener and it paid off in the service where I became a regular second baseman.  I hit a home run in high school once. It was the day FDR died and when we went up town for malts, every body was talking about him, no mention of my home run.  I was a good student except for advanced math and science courses, but we had the sorriest chemistry teacher ever.  Three of us got suspended for putting a stink bomb in the ventilation system, only because we were bored to tears listening to the same lecture we had heard a half dozen times.  Oh yes, I got an "A" in the Commercial class where we were supposed to learn how to type.  My girlfriend at the time got an "A" in history - both scores as the result of our trading places when the tests were scheduled.

Actually, I loved school, mainly because of our Latin teacher who was our Junior class adviser and she chose the class play - The Nutt Family, I was Wall Nut, so that I could star in it.  Only because I had made two A+'s in her classes.  After that play, she took me aside and told me that the world could be my "oyster" if only I kept doing what I had been doing in her classes.  She was so excited when I told her I was leaving school to go into the service.  She gave me two classic books she had recommended as I left on my last day.

I was not, however, always a happy camper.  I had just got to the point where I could do most of the jobs on the farm and was looking forward to proving myself in the summer.  My grand ad was tough on me at times and I always thought that was because of the the arguments over the cost of my care that he had with my Mother.  On the day we finished our sophomore year, she had a friend drive up from Detroit to get me and let me know, I would be working for another farmer that summer,  If I had had the courage that day, I was ready to run away.  That would have been a mistake.  The people I farmed with that summer treated me like a real hired hand and knowing that I would not be getting any money from home, Ron paid me extra for certain chores and took me to town and bought me some real "farmer" clothes.  On VJ Day I was dragging some logs we had cut to a place where we would pile them out of the weather when I saw him coming across the field in his Jeep.  "Here," he said, "take the Jeep and you and Ronnie (a neighbor my same age), go live it up some place.  Here is some money for you, the Jeep is full of gas.  Just be careful."  I was dumb founded.  No one had ever placed such confidence in me that happened with that deal.  We headed South, thinking of going to Detroit for some White House burgers and Coke, but as we drove into Mount Clemons, we got stuck in traffic.  Selfridge AFB was nearby and apparently they had sent the whole base into town to celebrate.  We just sat there for a couple of hours and a guy came along carrying a tray of White House burgers he had just bought.  We 
asked, where?  So, we followed instructions and sure enough, we found it.  Treated ourselves to four burgers apiece and malts and drove home.  When I was ready to leave after working all summer, they drove me home to Yale and gave Nan $100 to give to me - when I "really" needed it.

When I found my girlfriend and learned that she was still my girlfriend, she marveled at my change and we almost went too far with our celebrating.

My grandfather noticed, too.  "You have really grown up," he told me and put his gnarled old hands to my head ad said, "C'mon we've got work to do."  I was home at last.  And later that evening, I went out to favorite old rock and bawled my eyes out.

No comments:

Post a Comment