Cutting alfalfa hay was an exciting time for young boys on the farm. The mower always started around the perimeter of a field, cutting in ever narrowing circles until reaching the center. As the mower continued its constricting circles, rabbits who dwelt there became more and more restive until, one by one, they would make a break for the safety outside the field. Sometimes, we could catch the younger bunnies.
One day as I was following the mower around the field I spied a full grown rabbit crouched just inside the unmown hay. The rabbit was hunkered down, facing to one side of my approach. With stealth I crept up to him, pounced and grabbed tightly with both hands. That was one armful of rabbit, wiggling and kicking with great force. But, I held on to my prize. Then I looked the rabbit over and saw that he was blind in the eye on the side from which I had approached. He couldn't see me and the noise from the mower was so loud that he hadn't heard me either. When I saw that he was blind, my pity for the unfortunate thing made me release him.
John Hall, a man who had boarded with our family, served a stint in the military occupation of Germany following The Great War. While in Germany, he bought me a fifty-dollar Liberty bond, in my name! It was an unimaginable sum.
(Here's a $10 Liberty Loan Bond. Does anyone know how to figure out how much that $50 bond would be worth today if it was still around?)
I deposited it in the Silverdale bank safe and every six months I would go and withdraw my accumulated interest: $1.03 ($11 today). With all that money in a seven-year-old's pocket, I was the envy of other kids. I kept that bond until I was in high school when I needed to replace my cheap, nickel plated coronet. I bought a first class Conn trumpet, silver plated and all. It was a good use of the money but I hated to lose my only income. From now on, all of my money would have to come from my own labor.
When I was seven-years-old we moved to another farm, about six miles east of Silverdale. There was a little town, Otto, just down the road that had a small grocery store with a post office and one or two houses. Calling it a town is probably an overstatement.
At that little store I had my first bottle of soda pop at a cost of seven cents per bottle. Pop treated Bill and me. Mine was strawberry, which seemed to be powerful stuff, its bite being so strong! We sat on the porch of that country store drinking our pop. I pretended it was whiskey, not daring to reveal any such pretense to my father who was always dead set against all forms of drinking. It was such a strong drink that I didn't finish the last third of the bottle. But what an experience it was.
One time, an uncaring horse decided to walk under a high clothes line, where the wire caught my chin. We were moving slowly but with the hourse completely out of control. As the line grew more taut, I hung onto the saddle horn even more tightly. Eventually the wire became so taut it snapped me back off the horse, where I landed on my back on the ground. Other than knocking the wind out of me, I suffered no real harm. I was wearing a heavy leather jacket fastened at the neck and the wire didn't injure my throat. I have no idea how many times I have been thrown off horses and never once suffered a severe injury.
The only total eclipse of the sun I have ever witnessed occurred that year. (June 18, 1918) It grew darker and darker until all the chickens went to roost. It continued until almost total darkness fell in a strange pall over the landscape. After a few minutes, it started to grow light and the roosters began to crow, which demonstrates that chickens have no internal clock.
I was glad after one year to move back to our old farm, which seemed like a cherished friend.
Did you ever smell fresh-cut alfalfa hay or the pungent odor of earth fresh turned by the plow or experienced the fresh softness of early morning, making you glad to be alive? That is the way I remember that old farm. Almost all of my early memory is from that familiar place.
In the summer of 1921, Pop secured a contract to build a rather nice house for some distant cousin of Grandma's in Arkansas City. During that transition period, Bill and I stayed with Grandma Harvey, enrolling in a 2-room school in Silverdale. Grandpa had died the year before and Grandma doted on us.