Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

Joe Garity was walking through Missouri to...

Joe Garity was walking through Missouri to no place in particular during the time when Fulton Gravel Road was the shortest route between New York City and Los Angeles. He waited until Dad’s work was winding down, and then asked for a job. He was neatly dressed, polite and unfamiliar with what goes on at a busy dairy farm. However, Dad needed an extra hired hand, and he figured Joe was hungry, had no place to sleep and could surely learn to wash milk cans and things like that.

“I pay a dollar and a half and your keep,” Dad said. “We could give you supper and a bed, and then see what we can work out tomorrow.” Joe agreed to that. He stayed in our unfinished attic room, and we accepted him as one of the family. Mom did his laundry and mending.

Joe fit in from the first. We five would play Flinch after supper, or Mom would play the piano and we’d sing. He didn’t tell us when he had a birthday, didn’t write or get letters or use the telephone. The only identification he ever gave was that he had a sister in Scranton, Pa. If he carried any extra clothes, they weren’t for work, because he used his first week’s pay to buy bib overalls and a blue shirt like the other men wore.

Three years later he had purchased a wonderful Silvertone radio and some lesser gifts for our family and an old car for himself. We’d huddle around that morning glory speaker and listened to stations WLS and KDKA. My world was extending beyond the farm and the town, four miles away, for the first time.

The winter of the big snow and ice storm, the men hunted up some rusty Keen Kutter ice skates that clamped onto the thick soles of their shoes. They sharpened them and skated everywhere!~ The 6-inch snow was covered with a thick layer of ice, and we had some great slopes for skating. My shoes wouldn’t hold the clamps, and I still don’t have skates. On pay day Joe went to Hays Hardware and bought me a pair of brand new ice skates that had leather and straps at the heels. Wow! That was about the greatest thing I’d ever had happen to me!

We’d start at the steep incline in front of the house and fly downhill. I learned to slow down and squat low to get under a two-strand barbed wire fence and to hop across a little branch and then skate up the hill on the opposite side. Little things like that changed this kid’s life.

My own children have never had a chance to skate over the pastures, and we don’t welcome ice over snow, but we’ve skated on ponds and creeks a lot. Big Ceder Creek is near our farm, and my friend, Petie, and her son, Jimmy, went there with us one very cold day. Nobody remembers much about the skating that day when the children were in grade school. We built a good fire, and the kids set sticks on fire and played like they were sparklers.

I looked at Petie and she looked at me. Should we tell about grapevines? We smiled silently and told the youngster to hunt up some dry, wild grapevines. Soon, all five of us were “smoking” those hollow vines and trying to blow smoke rings. We knew we risked starting our kids on a bad habit. Not to worry! They accepted it for what it was: their old moms, reliving some fun things they had done in childhood.

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