The Old Days

For A Hill Country Christmas, each author has been sharing “stuff” about ourselves on our new FB page, Hope for Hardscrabble Times

In search of brilliant things to write, I came upon this tidbit from a rural 1960’s newspaper:

If you’re from the midwest, I imagine this won’t seem peculiar. But for my author friend out in Connecticut, it does. She marvels at the “stuff” written about friends and family, right in the weekly local newspaper.

The marked names (in yellow) are my cousin’s doing–she has the patience to find and send these remnants of the past my way, and I’m sograteful. In this instance, the farmer who lost his pinky finger in an accident played a huge role in my childhood, and reading about his accident tweaked one of my most vivid memories–the day he got tangled up in the corn picker.

It’s the only Thanksgiving I recall, at Grandpa and Grandma’s, eating turkey with all of the cousins, crammed into a plain small farmhouse. On warmer holidays we ran around outside, chased chickens, swung from the gate–figured out something to pass the time.

But late November in Iowa turns nasty cold, so we most likely sat around…maybe played cards or something. Lots of younger cousins kept me busy, and my aunts Donna and Shirley Donna and Shirley, mentioned in this issue, too, took an interest in us kids.

Then the phone rang. Dad had gotten hurt, so an uncle and Mom took off to drive him to the hospital. And we waited. My tendency for catastrophic thinking had a heyday…one of our uncles lost his entire arm in his corn picker and wore an interesting but kind of scary metal hook. Surely Dad would come home minus an arm, too.

Of course, it took forever to hear an update, so this scenes became stuck in time. I remember Aunt Shirley trying to comfort me, “Now, Gail. It’s probably just the very tip of his finger.”

In the end, “it” wasn’t as bad as I imagined–only a forfeited pinky finger. Dad had been through WWII, driven a truck across North Africa, watched a B47 fully loaded with soldiers returning home blow up on the tarmac.

That Thanksgiving day when I was about ten or eleven, he drove himself back to our house to clean up before going to the hospital. And he wore his lost pinky with pride, I might add.

Interesting how a few lines in a newspaper can make the memories flow!

If you like this step back into history, you’ll LOVE our FB page…HOPE FOR HARDSCRABBLE TIMES! Please give us a LIKE and a Follow.

https://www.facebook.com/ahillcountrychristmas

8 thoughts on “The Old Days

    • Thank you so much! All of these wonderful Christmas stories HAVE TO touch somebody’s heart–they sure are touching mine. Christmas has a way of changing things.

  1. This reminds me that my father-in-law lost a leg to a corn picker while Guy was in Vietnam. He died of a heart attack months later, while Guy was still over there, but the Air Force sent him home. April 1970. Guy spent the rest of the year helping his mom on the farm. His sister was in college and two brothers still at home.

  2. My husband grew up on a farm and has told me stories about farm accidents like this, which became life changing for the whole family. There seem to be two factors—the machines, which would seem crude compared to modern farming equipment, and the people operating them. People take risks when they’re tired or distracted. These accidents shape not only family stories, but families. Thanks for sharing your story, and starting the conversation.

  3. Good point–tired or distracted. That late in the season, farmers were having a rough time getting the crops out, I imagine. Working on Sunday or a holiday wasn’t a big deal to my dad, but that was why he was out there in the cold. (Of course, no cabs on tractors in those days.) And being tired, I imagine, fit the bill for just about every farmer around the area. Thanks for stopping by, Cherie.

  4. I grew up on a farm and, thankfully, no accidents. However, one of my in-law uncles died when his tractor turned over on him, crushing him. Flatland farming is back enough, but here in the mountains it’s espectially dangerous. I believe accidents are a major reason succeeding generations turn away from farming to the point that, today, I am not acquainted with anyone actively farming more than a kitchen garden.

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