THE FARM

Hello Folks, l hope you have a Good Day. One thing I’ve learned you know what will through the life door.

Joe DiMaggio where have you gone? I remember in my boyhood I collected baseball cards of Joe DiMaggio and all the other baseball heroes of that day. I stored my treasure collection in a shoe box under my bedroom’s bed. In 1947, as we readied to move from Salem, Oregon to Seattle, Washington one day after school I discovered my collected baseball cards was gone. It was no longer under my hiding place!  My treasure collection had been given to the son of a neighbor. Oh, Joe where have you gone?

I was just thinking, when the New York Yankees was my team. Every spring a few rookies would show up for spring training with the origin players. The team was unbreakable and world champions.  When I was 12 years old, the words “Play Ball” were magical to my ears. At breakfast I would only eat Wheaties because it was the breakfast of champions and the Yankees were the world champions. The Yankees were waiting for their moment of glory.

Joe DiMaggio of the New York Yankees, cropped ...

Joe DiMaggio of the New York Yankees, cropped from a posed picture of 1937 Major League Baseball All-Stars in Washington, DC. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Those were the day… I was the bat boy for a local bunch of tried construction workers wanting to play ball after work and I played the game in center field for my grade school back in 1949. The batter was up and then he hit fly ball to center field where I was playing, watching the ball flying through the air towards me, breathless I caught it! Immediately the pretty grade school girls cheered and my chest puff out. As I think back, I was so proud on that day, on a warm spring afternoon. “Milkweed” my boyhood friend came over and shook my hand all the while smiling and the he said, “Good catch.” I did a pretty good job as a center fielder. We were all young kids with oiled gloves waiting for the next game. We had no fancy uniforms or coach. All we wanted was to play baseball. Hey Joe have you gone?

I can still hear the magical words, “Play Ball” and then the Pitcher spits and throws a curve ball to the rookie batter; with mighty swing and I can almost hear the sound of the crack of his bat he hits the ball. The roar of crowd as the rookie player hits a home run over the center field wall. I can almost smell and taste of the mouth watering ballpark hot dogs as cheering crowd stands to its feel rooting on their team. The air is filled with excitement as the batter rounds to the third base while the smiling third base coach gives him a high five, not stopping the rookie’s legs pump on to the home plate. Without any pause his feet touch the home plate. Home run! In my mind I can see the stands are filled with cheering people both young and old as the batter touched home plate. The game of baseball game provided the thrill of playing and winning. The grand prize in the game is not only the thrill but also the hit of the ball.

There nothing like having a mouth of an appetizing hotdog while hearing the roar of stadium crowd as my favorite player hits a fly over the center field wall.

I have been careful with our spending before the economy took a nose dive, a turn for the worse, this has made us even more determine to get back to the basics, to focus on what is important to us – our faith in God, love for others and focus on family. I am not one who believes that God is a “mean dictator or a genie in a bottle” however I believe that He allows for situations to happen to teach His people and grow them as individuals. Now we all have to admit that spending and luxuries had gotten out of hand. There were times in my life that the lines between needs and wants are blurred. I think He wants us to focus on the important things in life and this may have been what needed to happen to get us there. I also believe that this time we bring about an era of compassion and giving. As a society we need to get a way from the notion of “get rich schemes” by any means necessary, even if it hurts or oppresses people. My heart goes out when I hear about job losses and struggling families.  It is easy when you start to realize that it could be you or someone you love down the road struggling.

Building trailer houses in Salem, Oregon.

Building trailer houses in Salem, Oregon.

After the war, our little family moved again lock, stock and barrel to Salem, Oregon, where they purchased a five-acre farm five miles outside of Salem. Once settled my Dad began building small trailer houses.

World War was over so we three headed with trunk full our belongings in the same 1938 black Dodge north to Salem, Oregon. Driving north from California on two lane highway went through the giant Redwoods, my Dad drove straight through a hollowed out Redwood tree, I was amazed. I had seen such a thing! Remember these were the days before freeways and war-time rationing was still on. I think the trip about one week more or less. When reached Salem the of us were tired and dirty. Our goal had reached, where my Aunt Gladys lived with her family and was looking forward seeing my cousin George. There in the small city of Salem were the Kannier Family and three cousins, Grandpa Charlie Jones, Uncle Bill and Uncle Eddie back from the war, Aunt Birdie and my two cousins, Francis Sue and Glenn Earl, both with their Mom waiting for return of Dad who been fighting the Nazis in Eurpoe.

Once we arrived in Salem we stayed with my Mom’s older sister’s house. At first we’re welcome  but in short time our welcome grew thin in the crowded house with three extra mouths to feed. My Dad entered a short partnership with my Uncle Bill and Uncle Oville selling used cars but it soon fell apart. About this time my folks purchased a five-acre farm five miles outside of Salem. My Uncle Bill moved back to California and my Aunt Birdy’s husband return from the army moved on.

My Mom and me at the Salem Oregon State Fair, this photo was taken around 1946.

My Mom and me at the Salem Oregon State Fair, this photo was taken around 1946.

After we moved to Salem…… First thing my Mom and Dad did was to enroll me the Middle Grove School. Boy, what a culture shock it was to me when I started to attend school there. The school was a big white schoolhouse with one classroom for grades one through eight. Each row of desks was for a different grade or the first row was for the first graders, the second row was for the second graders, and so on to the eight rows which were for eight graders. I was in the third row, which meant I was in the third grade. The school had only one teacher who taught all the different grades. But all the parents helped out when they were needed. Each morning after the school bell rang we’d settle in our assigned school desk and we all would say the pledge allegiance to the American flag.

The second thing I did after enrolling in school was to join the Four H Club. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I didn’t have an idea how to care or take care of farm animals. About the only animals I ever saw until that point was the animal show in a circus or those farm animals I’d look at through the car window as my family drove by in countryside. So there I was about to become a Four H Club member. Once a member I had to chose my project or animal. The animal I chose was a pig…..I remember my Dad and I went out to search for a baby pig for my Four-H project. We found baby pigs at local farmer who happened to raise them. We picked out my little baby pig and took it home. Shortly afterwards I named him after my Grandpa. His name was to be “Charlie.”  To this day I don’t what my Grandpa thought of the idea of me naming a pig after him. The only excuse I have The second thing I did after enrolling in school was to join the Four H Club. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I didn’t have an idea how to care or take care of farm animals. About the only animals I ever saw until that point was the animal show in a circus or those farm animals I’d look at through the car window as my family drove by in countryside. So there I was about to become a Four H Club member. Once a member I had to chose my project or animal. The animal I chose was a pig…..I remember my Dad and I went out to search for a baby pig for my Four-H project. We found baby pigs at local farmer who happened to raise them. We picked out my little baby pig and took it home. Shortly afterwards I named him after my Grandpa. His name was to be “Charlie.”  To this day I don’t what my Grandpa thought of the idea of me naming a pig after him. The only excuse I have is that I was young and I thought it was a good idea at the time. Hence I had a pig named “Charlie.” I have to say when they are small baby pigs are cute but they grow up to be big hogs. Believe me I didn’t how much work was in store for me until I started. One of the first things my Dad did was build pigpen and house for Charlie to live in and he placed around the walnut tree grove electrical charged wire to keep him in. This meant that most of the walnut tree grove became his own private domain. Guess who had to feed him and clean up all the pig manure? Believe me pigs eat a lot and make even bigger messes. I had to do it because the pig was mine and there was no one else there to do it. Those were the days……

We settled on the farm where my Dad started building house trailers plus at the time my grandpa was living in a small trailer was his main helper. My Mom and I helped the best we could. One thing I soon learn I was fit to be a farmer.

To my delight and surprise on my tenth birthday my folks brought me a used blue bike as my birthday present. Without any doubt, it was beautiful! What great birthday present. But the only thing was I didn’t know how to ride it. Up to then I had never ridden a bike in my entire life. My first few attempts were total failures since I had no balance or the foggiest idea what I was doing. At this time my Grandpa ‘Charlie Jones’ was living with us. One day he saw me struggling, without any hesitation, he told me he’d help me. So then, my Grandpa solved my problem, he took off the bike’s seat to help me to keep my balance. Then, every day after school he’d push back and forth on old country road until I got the hang of it. On one particular day I looked back to see no one was helping me. Just then, I knew I had mastered the trick of riding my blue bike. With a quick glance over my shoulder there stood my Grandpa with a great big grin. At that very moment I knew I’d graduated from those who walked to school to those who rode their bikes. I was my own master! I had wheels!

My cousin George with his Dad in Salem, oregon.

My cousin George with his Dad in Salem, Oregon.

When my cousin George would spent an over night visit with me. Please remember these were days before television or the Internet or fast food. As I bring to mind, for weeks on end all the news on the local radio station was about the prediction by a religious group that the world was going to end at midnight on a particular date. Both my cousin and I took these statements as the truth since it came from the radio station.  This was very important news to us because we didn’t want to die. We both asked our parents if this was true. With a shrug either set of our parents couldn’t give us a straight answer because they didn’t know the answer themselves. On the last day before the world was suppose to end the radio announced all the religious believers left their homes and all gave up all other earthy possessions and then dressed in white sheets and sat on some mountaintop to for their redemption.  Both George and I were not looking forward to this day as we were sure the end was on hand. Both us of were scared it might be true but we were hoping for the best. We went to bed that night and we both said our prayers as we didn’t want to chance it. When we awoke in my bedroom the following morning in the bed we shared, George rubbed his eyes and looked around at his surrounding and asked me seriously, if we were in heaven. We both were very relieved. As you can tell the world didn’t end or otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this tale.

One day my old man read in a magazine about a new cure for baldness. Soon he sent his dollar along with the magazine coupon for this new concoction to cure his baldness. Afterwards everyday he anxiously waited if his package and he’d have me check our rural mail box to see if the hair growth potion had arrived for that particular day. When the big day arrival of his magic hair growth brew he became keyed up and ready to start his treatments. Inside the package he found a small package of some dry substance with instructions how to apply it to his ever growing bald spot. Starting that very night and religiously my Mom applied it to his head every night after dinner. My Mom would mix the magazine’s hair growing remedy with two eggs and a measured half of cup of milk and then apply the mixture to the top of his bald head and let the mixture harden and settle there for about one hour. Following the instructions they’d remove the harden crust and then she would wash his head off with a hot towel. Of course my Dad would rush to the wall mirror to see any hair had grown back. Sometimes I’d rush out of the kitchen since I couldn’t control myself and start to giggle at the sight. Plus I knew he took the whole thing very serious. Every evening this went on for two or three months as I now recall. My Dad never grew back his hair back and I often thought how my Mom thought of the whole thing. Within a few years later someone started calling him “Curly” and that nickname struck to him for the rest of his days. The whole thing was very serious to my old man but to me it was the darnest thing I ever saw.

My Dad was always on the tight side whenever it came to money but on the other hand he was not a cheapskate. Every year as Christmas approached he’d wait until Christmas Eve to go out to buy our family tree. And believe me it was a big production…. My man with me in tow would go from Christmas tree lot to Christmas tree lot until he found the just right tree at the right price. And of course he would barter seller down until he paid hardly next to anything for our family’s tree. After that we rush home as fast as we could to put up the family tree and once arriving back home the three of us, my Mom, my Dad and me all the while eating freshly popped popcorn would gather around the tree and decorate it for Christmas Day in the morning.

The day came in 1947 when my farm life came to a end. The 1938 Dodge coup had been replaced with a black Model A Ford puling a small house trailer we had apart in it’s building leaving the farm – Good by Salem Hello Seattle here we come. Joe where have you gone?

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