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SUSAN JOHNSTON OWEN

SITE OWNER/MUSICIAN, WRITER,ARTIST, ELEMENTARY AND SPECIAL EDUCATION TEACHER (RETIRED)

HOPPY 2


 

Still appreciating him Pictures, Images and Photos

 

I Almost Kill Granny
So, one day when Little brother Daryl was 5 and I was a shoulda-known-better 9, I wandered out to the big barn, Daryl tagging along right behind. Gramps had parked a hay wagon loaded with loose hay, right under the hay loft door, which was wide open.
I climbed up the ladder to the loft inside the barn. Daryl just had to follow so I pulled him up. We went over to the open loft door and stood there looking around. Granny came out the back door of the house carrying a basket of wet laundry to be hung on the clothesline. Before I go on, I should further explain the lay of things. From the yard where granny was standing, she could only see the top part of the barn. The lower part was out of sight behind other sheds and bushes. She couldn't see the loaded hay wagon under the loft door.

Daryl was yelling 'hey gramma, look,' and waving both arms. Granny yelled back to get Daryl away from the edge, he'll fall and break something. So, I stepped back and gave him a shove on the butt with my foot.

Poor granny saw her precious little Daryl launched out the hay loft door, arms and legs flailing, and out of sight behind the sheds in the foreground. She dropped the basket of wet clothes and came running and screaming around the sheds. I swear, I never thought a fat old woman could run so fast. When granny saw Daryl standing on the load of hay laughing, she just collapsed on the ground in a sitting position, holding her heaving chest with both hands and panting for breath.

I panicked, jumped out of the loft, ran into the house to get help. Mom and little sister Angel got granny back into the house, set her in her chair and made her some tea. Then mom shoved me out of the house and told me to stay out of sight the rest of the day.

Daryl? Well, the more the womenfolk tried to protect him, the more that seemed to happen to him. He survived and is still going strong, however.

Submitted By: Hop from IA on 2008-10-10


Christmas-1945

Christmas of 1945 was one I'll never forget. I was 5 years old then but I have no memory of my dad or my uncles before the summer of 1945. My memory didn't kick in until I was about 4, it seems. That summer dad, a stranger to me, came to live with us and a whole lot of strange men were coming by to visit. Dad left to fight in WW2 sometime after the Pearl Harbor attack. So did dad's three brothers and two brother-in-laws. Dad and one brother were in the army air corps as the air force was called then. They were both stationed at a base in Mendlesham England. A B-17 bomber base. Dad's other two brothers were navy, seeing action in the Pacific. A brother-in-law was also navy and the other was infantry. He saw much action. D day, battle of the bulge to name a few. And he helped liberate the death camps. He never quite got over that. Anyway, the day before Christmas we were all getting the old farmhouse ready for dad's first Christmas at home since the war ended. Something was needed from town. Gramps still drove then, so he volunteered to drive in and get whatever item was needed. Preparations continued and gramps was forgotten until supper time. It was dark by then, and cold with a lot of snow on the ground from a previous snowfall. Just as the adults were getting up a good worry, our old wooden cased hand crank wall phone rang our ring. It was the sheriff. He had gramps, would someone come and get him. So, dad and big brother Ike took the car and went in after gramps. It seems that gramps stopped to celebrate our first post war Christmas, had a few too many, stopped at a house that he thought looked like ours, staggered into their kitchen, sat at their table and passed out. Sheriff Hagen was an old family friend. Since no damage was done, the sheriff was able to talk the offended family out of any charges. Christmas day was one of food, drink, laughter and gifts. I got aquainted with all my 'new' uncles, their wives or girlfriends, and they gave me lots of neat stuff. Things like sailor hats, pins, a pair of military handcuffs, aircraft ID books, a canvas cartridge belt, canteen and more. I was sure I died and went to heaven. A lot of Christmas's have passed since those days.
Submitted By: Hop from IA on 2008-12-17


Holidays Past

When I was a kid, my gramps was always looking for ways to inflict a bit of misery on us kids. One Christmas he gave me a nicely wrapped box that had some weight to it. I tore it open, anxious to see my gift. Imagine the look on my face when I found a brick and a note. The note read, ' it's a house. Keep it. On your B day you get another one. One day you'll have enough for a house'. Angel got the same treatment from the old codger. Once,gramps gave her a box with nothing but a piece of paper and a stub of a pencil in it. 'It's paper dolls. Ya draw 'em and cut 'em out yourself'. Angel gave gramps a long, hard, uncomfortable stare. But the Christmas Daryl was five sticks in my memory. We didn't go crazy with gifts for everyone but we kids all got something. We were all gathered in the parlor waiting for the adults to give us our gifts. Gramps handed Daryl a wrapped box, saying this was all he got but it was from the whole family. Daryl eagerly tore apart the wrapping and opened the box. The look on his face was priceless as he reached in and held up a wooden clothespin with a string tied to one end. Gramps said 'let me show you how it works', taking the string and pulling the clothespin around on the floor. 'See, it's a car' and gramps made motor noises. Then gramps spun the pin around his head and said, 'it's a airplane' and made plane noises. 'And if you put it in the stock tank and pull it in the water, it's a boat'. Daryl's face squeezed up and he ran to mom and burst out crying. Gramps broke out in his evil cackling laugh that got him mean looks from mom and granny. Then Daryl's real gifts were brought out. Besides our immediate family, Mom's sister, Aunt Mary and Uncle Fred and their two kids were always present as was uncle Clete and Uncle Earl and any girlfriend of Ike's. Christmas and Thanksgiving were more about family and food than gifts or anything else. We always had a Christmas tree. Early on it was a real tree. Later we got a artificial tree, trimmed it up real nice, fastened the lights and after Christmas we put the tree in our attic all decorated and ready to go the next year. Sometimes Ike would take us kids on a sleigh ride in the old wood farm wagon with wheels replaced with runners. He would drive the tractor over snow covered roads while we huddled in the straw in the wagon box. When we got home everyone wanted to stand over the big grate in the parlor floor where the furnace heat came up. I just hate brown winters. One year some time ago I hunted all winter wearing only work boots. The ground was froze but it only snowed enough to give everything a dusting now and then. The thing I miss most at Christmas, besides the family who are gone, is the smells. For a week or two before Christmas our farmhouse smelled delicious. Mom, granny and Angel would be baking tons of cookies. Mostly sugar cookies. Mom and granny had a big cardboard box in the attic, full of tin cookie cutters. All shapes and sizes. They would haul that box down to the kitchen, wash the cutters and get busy. Some cookies were plain, others decorated with colorful sprinkles or frosted. I understand cookie cutters like those are highly collectible now. Granny made a tart-like cookie she just called 'filled ' cookies. She made them by cutting out a round sugar cookie, placing a dollop of mincemeat in the center, placing another sugar cookie over it, crimping the edges with a fork and baking them. The mincemeat we used was the chopped or ground up raisins, currents and apples. She couldn't make enough of these. Once, all I wanted for Christmas was my own box of these 'filled' cookies. My wish was granted. I hid the box in my dresser drawer in my room. My little pissant brother Daryl found them and ate most. The women baked bread all the time but in the holiday season they baked the fancy kind. Nut bread, raisin bread, pumpkin bread and bars, and candy. Yummy. Fudge plain, with nuts, white fudge, divinity or something like that, they called it. And pies. Pumpkin was a favorite. We grew some pumpkins and lots of squash. Sweet 'tater pie, mincemeat pies, apple, cherry and all. The cookies and candy was hid away until the appropriate time. The stuff that wouldn't keep long was made before needed. The kitchen lights burned far into the night the few days before Christmas. I remember going to sleep at night smelling food baking and waking up next morning to the smells of coffee, bacon and eggs. Holidays are different now. They just don't smell the way they once did.
Submitted By: Hoppy from IA on 2009-10-31


My Motorbike

One summer Saturday afternoon in my 11th year, dad and gramps came home from an auction. As usual, the old truck was piled high with rusty old farm implements and parts. I went over to help unload. The first thing dad handed down to big brother Ike nearly caused me to go blind from my eyeballs popping out. It was a genuine, no s***, Whizzer motorbike. I nearly wet myself.'Damn fool Hop'll kill hisself', gramps mumbled. Dad suggested we see what we could do with it. I knew Ike wasn't too interested. He already owned 2 vehicles. But to me, it was love at first sight, in spite of it's few faults. Rotten tires, missing drive belt to name a few. We wheeled it into the garage. Ike said it looked pretty much complete, maybe he could scare up some tires and such. Wrong thing to say. I pestered the hell out of Ike all week. By the end of the week we were ready to do a test ride. New tires and tubes, new belt, new spark plug, changed oil in the small motor, put some gas in the tank, put bike on kickstand, crank the pedals. Nothing. Ike said we need to check the spark. He pulled the wire and told me to hold it while he cranked. I wasn't born yesterday. 'Hey Daryl, c'mere and hold this wire'. Little brother Daryl, about 7 years old then, was only too happy to help. Daryl near jumped out of his shoes, and ran squalling into the house. 'She's got fire' I laughed. Ike pulled the spark plug and squirted some gas into the spark plug hole, put the plug back and started cranking. The little motor started popping, smoking, then ran, kinda. While it was struggling to run Ike said to hold the throttle open while he made some adjustments to the carburator. Soon it was running smooth as any Whizzer could. I got on, Ike shoved it off the kickstand and I was wobbily whizzing around the farmyard. From then on I was on that bike whenever I was not doing chores. One day, dad said if all I was gonna do that day was ride that damn motorbike, ride around the farm and check all the fences. So, I was riding my motorbike around the back pasture when Angel came pounding over on her horse, Cloudy. During our conversation Angel casually mentioned that Cloudy could outrun that piece of s*** bike and not even break into a sweat. Of course, she had to be taught a lesson. I couldn't let that go by. 'First one back to the barnyard, go'. Well, Cloudy had lots faster pickup but I was gaining by the time we had raced the length of the hay field and into the front pasture. Over the crest and down the hill toward the creek bottom we tore, almost neck and neck by then. When I woke up, Angel said I hit a hidden wheel rut, the front wheel collapsed, then I flew on ahead, solo, skidding and tumbling through the gravel of the tractor lane, and over the home made wood bridge that spanned our creek. Angel rode on to the house, got the folks who got me home and laid out on the kitchen 'operating' table. Out came the jar of whiskey. Gramps took a healthy pull while tweezers and bandages were found. When no one was looking, he gave me a pull. A wheelbarrow load of gravel was picked out of my chest, arms, belly, legs and butt, along with splinters from the wood bridge. Daryl was getting a big kick out of the whole show, laughing and giggling the whole time. I heard gramps say 'I told ya so' in the background. After the bandaging, I was so sore and stiff I could barely walk. Well, our county fair started the next day. We all went to see the sights. Dad and I was looking at the displays under the grandstands. At one booth, a nice young gal with great melons, wearing a scoop neck sun dress asked what happened to me as I hobbled by. Dad explained the accident, mentioning Ike's name somewhere in the telling. 'Ike (our last name)? I know Ike. Oh, you poor kid' she purred, pulling my head into her beautiful chest. When she was finished talking to dad, she had to push me away. I heard dad say to mom, 'Hop ain't hurtin as much as he wants people to think'.
Submitted By: Hoppy from IA on 2009-11-03

 

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