Knee High and the Fourth of July

Fourth of July is our Nation’s birthday.  I love the picnics and parades, and especially the fireworks.  Fourth of July is great, especially when family and friends are close at hand.  Still this time of year gets me thinking about corn.  Yes, corn.  This year, farmers are worried about the lack of rain around my home town.  Growth is stunted.  A record amount of corn went in the ground this year, and because of the drought, it is shorter than usual.

When I was a little girl, Fourth of July was picnic time, just like now.  That meant all the aunts and uncles from Dad’s family got together. Fireworks were a rare treat, and parades were for city folks.

As much as they liked farming, the uncles of my childhood loved to have competitions.  They had competitions about everything:  who had the most kids (Dad finally won that one,)  who could lose the most weight (I’ll tell you about that another time,) and who knew the most about farming. That’s where the corn came in.

Dad and Uncle Frank both did some part-time farming.  They and Uncle Merle, were farmers at heart, even though they did different work, regular kind of work that all dads did, so they could put bread on the table.  Farming is what put the rest of the food on the table, and a deep sense of satisfaction in their hearts.

Everybody knew that springtime was the time for planting.  Planting was super-fun, ’cause for sure Dad was home, instead of working tons of overtime, fixing phones and climbing telephone poles, so his kids could have new shoes for school or new Jet-Ball sneakers for summer.

Dad would NEVER let me drive a tractor before I lost my baby teeth.All us kids helped.  Little kids took water out to people in the field.  I got to drive tractor when I was nine.  That’s when I was big enough to step down on the clutch and the brake without standing up.  Some kids got to drive tractor when they were just five years old.  Dad said that was plain foolish, and that’s how kids got killed.  I never got killed, or even hurt, and I disced the fields all by myself.

Dad was the only one who plowed a field, ’cause plowing took an eagle eye.  I had a hard time cutting fabric for an apron straight, so Continue reading

Change is Welling Up

When I got to be a grown up girl, but not quite ready to believe it, I got a job for the summer.  I was in charge of a water survey for the Huron County Health Department.  My job was to ask businesses, those businesses who served water to people, some questions:

  • Do you have a well?  (I knew what a well was, that one was easy.)
  • Where is your wells?  How deep?  Where is it?  Do you have a well log?
  • Is the welll casing grouted?  (Isn’t grout that stuff between the bathroom tiles that’s so darned hard to clean?)
  • Do you have a submersible pump?
  • Where is your pump?  Can I see it?
  • Do you have a pitless adapter?  (Huh?)

My  training was one day of riding around the county with an Sanitarian Tom, while he inspected sewage systems.   “Tomorrow you are on your own,”  Sanitarian Tom said.  What?  My heart skipped a beat.  It didn’t know a pitless adapter from a hole in the ground.

The next morning, Sanitarian Ed, a much more compassionate fellow advised me, “Start out at Coral Gables.  It’s close by, and the owner, Bill Baily, is a good guy.  If you get stuck, you can come back here, and ask questions.”   That was before cell-phones, lap-tops, e-mails, or text-messaging.  That was back when self-carbon paper was a great innovation.  I clamped official looking metal clipboard under my arm and headed for my Huron County Health Department car; a blue Ford sedan; no air-conditioning and no radio.  Tax-payers didn’t want government workers to be driving around the county in the lap of luxury.

Indeed, Bill Baily at Coral Gables was a good guy.  He offered me Continue reading