Growing up we spent a lot of time in the fields. My dad farmed not only his own fields which he and my mother collected over time, but fields for my other relatives. When my parents first go married they lived in a mobile home in my aunt’s yard. We lived there until I was in 2nd grade and my parents bought the Abraham Illk house from Ralph Goodrich. The funny thing is that we moved from one side of Oakwood to the other and kept the same address. You have to love small towns! Our address was RR2, Oakwood Illinois. Later they added a Box 8 to it. Nothing else changed until after I left for college and they went to 911 addressing that used some sort of code for north and East that tells exactly where the house is.
While living in the mobile home my parents had a garden at the very end of the field near the house. I vaguely remember the treks to the end of the field almost a half mile away to tend the garden. Later my parents set up a garden by the house (when we moved to a house) and my mother had a huge garden. She’s kept a garden ever since. Of course my other big memory is finding a snake in the garden. My father’s favorite saying the Only Good Snake is a Dead Snake – led to the snake being thrown toward my foot and then shot. My father had his own unusual sense of humor. – I also have lots of memories of snakes being hacked with garden tools and being run over by cars. I don’t exactly have a snake phobia in my adult life but I’m not excited by them for sure. Of course my latest experience with snakes was stepping on a large snake while cleaning my mother’s garage! Did you know Amazon sells something called Snake B Gon?
Race Track and Learning to Drive
My father wanted us to make sure and learn to drive as soon as we could see over the dashboard. Go carts and anything else he could find were on the list of things to practice with. My first experience was a go cart that my father had used a drill as a motor so that he could unplug me if I got into anything dangerous (at about 18 months old!)
As we got older my dad would make a race track in the field after the crops were out. My brother and I would race around in circles. As going around in circles in smaller dune buggies got boring my parents turned us lose with big trucks along side the field at areas that were secluded – like the field we call Bailey’s Bottom. A bottom field that is land locked by a river and a state park. We would get to drive back and forth down the side of the field with the truck with my mom as we practiced. As we got better we were allowed to help drive to and from the fields to help with farm work as long as we pulled over if we saw a car coming. – As a funny note the way I learned the difference between plowed and a field that was disced was when my dad told me I could take an old car and drive it around in the part of the field that he had finished with the disc. Half was plowed! Whoops! Dad had to tow me out of the wrong section of the field as I got them mixed up. That will never happen again. For those that don’t know plowed isn’t anywhere near as smooth! My brother and I would drive back and forth down the field to practice, with dogs riding in the passenger seats – heads hanging out the window. We would drive as fast as we could for the long run and then slow down and make the turn at the end. I hate to admit I don’t think we even looked at seat belts back then.
On Fire and Down the Hill (At the Field)
My brother and I would spend anytime my mother was at the field with us at the field. My mom would try to find things to keep us amused. Even a black and white tv with rabbit ears that plugged into a cigarette lighter in the van. We would try to come up with things to do to pass the time. I loved reading, but one of our favorite things was jumping into the corn/beans. Not quite like swimming, we still could dive in and play in the back of each truck. I still remember finding all the stink bugs and the cockleburs that would get stuck to our clothes.
Some of our fields had things that could be done nearby – With names to go with! We had the Ranch that is shared with our cousins. My dad and his 1st cousin built a nice pond there. For a long time we had a beach and picnic area and could play in the sand. The bottom field and Bailey’s bottom each were on the river with lots of fun things we could do also. Thinking of it, there was frequently things with water that we could do. We also were covered in black marks from using old tractor ties as floatees.
Then there were the adventures, like when the truck caught on fire in the field from stalks catching on the bottom. The bottom of the truck was hot and of course driving through the field the stalks had stuck to the bottom. If I remember right my dad burnt his hand trying to pull the burning pieces out from under. Another time the truck ran out of power near the top of a big hill and it just went right back down backwards until it came to rest against a tree. Luckily no one was hurt.
I’m still amazed that we survived childhood!
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