Altar Call – Opelika-Auburn News
April 28, 2002
Things I miss doing back on the farm when I was a boy
Among several gag gifts I received on my birthday last month was a small pillow. We have many cute, little pillows. My wife loves them. She piles 15 or 20 of them on our bed every day when she makes up the bed. Why I don’t know. Women are like that; they do things men don’t understand.
Every night we have this ritual of tossing the pillows off the bed into a pile on the floor. Exercise perhaps. Now one of the pillows is my very own. I will never have trouble recognizing it. There are no flowers on it, no butterflies, no blue birds, no garden scenes. It has only this – two words: “Old Fossil.” That makes it forever mine.
I consider myself a very fortunate old fossil. I have lived a long time and I can still remember many of the things I enjoyed doing back on the farm when I was a boy. Sometimes when I see small boys playing, oblivious to the harsh realities of the adult world, I recall some of those days in my own life.
Christmas was not bleak in our home back then. My sisters and my brother and I did not receive “tons” of toys like kids do now, but we always had a few things under the tree. My mom handled the gift buying for the most part. The only gift dad usually bought was one for mom.
All our gifts came from Sears, Roebuck. Mom believed in that catalog. She went to town once a week for groceries but the rest of the stuff she bought came in the mail from Sears. In those days the one book that had better not be misplaced was not the Bible, but the Sears, Roebuck Catalog. I can still remember how fascinating it was to me to look through that book and ask mom over and over again, “Can you get that for me for Christmas, Mama?”
Before those days, when I was younger, I thought Santa Claus brought us everything that was under the tree on Christmas morning. Mom encouraged us, and helped us, to write letters to Santa so he would know what we wanted for Christmas. I don’t remember ever thanking Santa for anything; I just told him what toys I wanted him to bring me.
I lied to Santa back then. I always told him I had been a good boy. But like most boys, I was never good all the time. Still I know this: I was a better boy between Thanksgiving and Christmas because mom kept telling us that if we were bad, Santa would bring us nothing but “cornbread and switches” for Christmas.
Like most boys I longed for a bike but most years I had to settle for a pretty yellow dump truck or some other plastic toy. Finally at age 12 I got a bike for Christmas. My joy was short-lived. There were no training wheels so, not knowing how to ride a bike, I quickly tumbled over on the gravel driveway, skinning my knee badly.
My parents had one remedy for such accidents: iodine. Though I always protested loudly, they applied the iodine liberally anyway. They told me that if the iodine burned, then it was doing its job. My dad had a standard comment about such injuries: “It will feel good when it quits hurting.”
How parents can raise kids these days without a big bottle of iodine is a mystery to me. I reckon that is one thing that I failed to pass on to my boys. They did pick up or inherit a lot of stuff from me. Some of it stings. Like when I hear them yelling at their children and realize that they sound a lot like I did when I was their age.
Though I did not appreciate it then as much as I do now, it was fun growing up on a farm so far from town that we had to “pipe sunshine” out there. That was what my friends in town said. Back then I wished I lived in town. But like so many people, I did not know how good my life really was then.
Next week: installment two about things I remember when I was a boy growing up on a farm.