I’ve said it before, it’s tough when your father is in that in between land of suffering. You haven’t lost your father – yet your father isn’t really there. You can be with your father, but not share memories. What you really have is a physical shell of your parent…. Friends post about missing their fathers and wouldn’t understand if you mention that you miss your father too.. but friends with their father’s are in that position where they don’t understand either. Unless you have been there you really can’t know what that limbo is like.
This year I helped my mother print a poster of my mom and dad to hang in my dad’s room. I’m hoping it will help my dad recognize my mother easier when she visits. His eyes are in bad shape from macular degeneration and the small pictures aren’t the easiest to see. We were able to email a picture to Staples and get a poster that is 2 foot by 3 foot printed in half an hour. Yeah!
Talking about growing up, I was describing to a person online the task of walking beans. Walking beans involves walking down each row with a hook and cutting each weed. I was so excited the first year I was old enough to join my dad and the ‘boys’ that worked for him in the field. I still remember the first day. My mom had taken us to swim lessons for the first time at the YMCA and I was in either 4th of 5th grade…. I wanted to go out and walk with those high school boys so bad. The first day was hot, but being just out of the pool I didn’t even notice. Mom had dropped me at the field on the way home. The field that was by where my cousin Judy’s house was later. We finished that field and the next day we were ready to move on to the field next field closer to my Aunt Margaret’s. My dad started the day early, while the beans were still wet. We took off down the rows and I remember one of the boys kept stepping on the corn hook and running it into his shoe. Of course my mind kept going to what would happen if he ran it into his foot!
Next thing I knew I ended up passing out. I’ll never forget waking up to find myself thrown over my father’s shoulder. Every step he took cut into my stomach and he was walking back to the truck. I remember saying something about being able to walk and my dad refusing to let me….. He put me in the truck, took me to my Aunt Margaret’s house nearby and made my mother come and get me. I was then BANNED from helping for the rest of the summer. I remember begging and pleading… telling them I was fine… but nope, I wasn’t allowed to work. Years later I would have done about anything to get a break from walking beans, but that year I wanted to so bad…
Now thinking back I can’t imagine how scared my dad must have been when I collapsed in the field. Around that time I had a habit of passing out. The reason was never found, but I passed out in a few odd places, off stools into laps, at school in the aisle (I got up to tell the teacher I was going to pass out), and even once in the vet’s office). I’m not sure if this was the first time, but now I’m sure my dad’s reaction was fear.
I wish now I could ask him about that day, it’s something we never talked about other than that summer with me begging to walk beans and my parents telling me no…. That’s one of the tough things about dementia…. you still have the person but the memories are locked in their mind forever to be lost…..
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!
My mother didn’t let me cook in the kitchen much, really not at all. Our schedule was pretty set also. Most of the time during the spring, summer, and fall was spent in the fields if not at school. Until my brother and I were old enough to drive on our own, we were pretty much expected to go with. I think my parents thought that being so isolated out in the country would lead to someone breaking in and massacring us if we were left home alone. My mother would fix hamburgers for a lot of meals out in the field, and evenings we had our big meal. Days when my dad was in the field or working outside the big meal was after dark. I even remember days my dad would keep working with lights on the equipment to get done because rain was coming. My mother would be responsible for taking the trucks to the elevator to dump many times, so times at home were only the few minutes between loads. As soon as I was old enough to see over the steering wheel and reach the pedals I was responsible for driving a vehicle to the field behind my mother with strict instructions to pull over if another car came along.
My brother and I would play in the field doing everything from jumping in the trucks of corn and beans to riding motorbikes along the side of the fields and up hills. Most of my childhood was spent outside! My dad’s staple was a can of Pepsi between each meal and my mother would always have a spare cooler. My dad drank so much of it, that my mom would hunt down the Pepsi truck and buy directly from the delivery driver. My favorite though was Hawaiian punch. My brother and I also would spend time swimming, canoeing, biking, and anything else we could think to try. – The only thing we didn’t try was camping…. My father said we lived in the woods why would we want to sleep out in it.
I do remember one time though. Our high school had an exchange day and I needed to make lunch for my dad. I decided pizza was the way to go. I wasn’t really familiar with the ingredients to use and frozen pizza wasn’t a thing yet. – Actually microwaves weren’t either. The only thing I remember about that pizza though was that I put orange zest on it. I’m not sure why, but it was in the kitchen and seemed a good idea at the time. My dad ate it, and never said a word about it being good or bad! Just came in, ate, and went back out to work again.
My next try in the kitchen was a science experiment. I had found an old science lab kit. I did enjoy science, but I can’t say science was encouraged at home. – Though for some reason I did have this science kit. I decided the best thing to do with it, was to mix a little of each thing in the box together and see what would happen. The kit came with glass test tubes and lots of chemicals. I mixed everything together in my test tube (just a little) and then mixed it. Needless to say, the top of the test tube blew off hitting the ceiling. We do still have that kit here. Looking at it now, I’m sure that kits can’t be bought anymore with those ingredients. Now looking back I know I was lucky something more serious than a dent mark in the ceiling didn’t occur, but back then it didn’t even cross my mind.
Now I have my own kitchen and get to cook all the time. My kids and I also do science experiments pretty often. I know my mother isn’t too impressed with my food, but I don’t tend to use a lot of things like salt and fatty food, like the stuff I grew up on. My husband does love hamburgers, so we break down and have them every few weeks.
Growing up, my parents had a lot of animals. My favorite pets were between a dog that was a golden retriever/Irish setter mix that my father had named after my cousin’s mom and a cat.
We had a LOT of dogs. The mix that was my favorite was around for many years. She was mine. For my brother we had an English Setter named Waldo that was the result of a trip to Kentucky when I was in second grade. I remember that one a little more than when we got my dog because of the tobacco that we were given to bring back for show and tell. It was a family road trip to pick up the dog – which was rare for our family. Road trips included my dad singing Purple People Eater – and amusing us for hours with us questioning him about the blue light that kept going off (bright lights that used to be controlled by the foot switch). We also had a little black and white dog called Scudder, he was another favorite was part of the three amigos with my brother’s dog and mine. Scudder was what looked like a terrier mix.
Besides having a few other dogs, including one that had to have a CSection at one point while having puppies and a few that came and went so fast they didn’t get names – our final favorite dog was Butter. Butter was a Dashund (weiner dog) that came in a pair with Peanut. At the time I really didn’t get the name. It wasn’t until years later when my husband pointed it out that I finally got it. Peanut had an issue with his ear shortly after showing up and it swelled up. My father’s solution was to pop it and get the puss out. Of course the dog bit him…. My dad’s big rule was that none of the dog’s could bite us, so he had to find a new home. I’m fairly certain that is what really what happened… Butter on the other hand stayed to keep us company. The only thing she ever bit was Robby’s dog Waldo. Waldo, even though he was a big dog, was afraid of her for the rest of time. I remember wanting Butter to sleep with me and my mother’s rule was that I couldn’t lift her. So I would pat the bed and call and do everything I could until she would find a way up into the bed (I had a high bed). Somehow that dog would do it. So she would sleep with me. After my Grandmother lost her second husband, she was lonely though…. So Butter went to stay with her. Butter would chew up anything not in the laundry basket and had a few quirky tendencies, but she was a fun dog! I’ll never forget when she would go to the pond and swim how her tail was spin like a propeller…
Starting at about 2, my parents realized I was really allergic to a lot of things. They had left me with my cousin Joellyn to babysit and I had decided to play with the cats. My allergic reaction was so bad my parents rushed me to the doctor. Years later I begged for a cat though. Our cats were outdoor cats because of my allergies, but I loved having a cat. I named one Triple Trouble and called it TT.. The rest have names that have slipped my mind over the years. I do remember a big yellow cat that must have been named something like Garfield that climbed my face one day when I insisted on carrying it out to show friends who had brought a dog over.
TT was a gray cat and for some reason I think that cat might have stayed in the house at least part of the time. More recently we allowed our middle son to get a cat that he named Spy. I tend to call it Evil as a nickname, but it stayed here until my little one was born. Spy was the same gray as TT. Spy is name living on the farm – really living on the farm in Illinois. I take a picture every time I visit. That cat has gotten old and seems to be king of the porch at my parents. Spy was the oddest cat when living here. He would play fetch with whiffle balls, turn off and on lights, chase lasers, and only drink running water. What got him sent to live at the farm was his desire to hunt and attack people by surprise. With the new little one we had decided that he had to find a new home at the farm.
Sometime before second grade my dad agreed to get me a horse. He really didn’t like horses (AT ALL), but he got one for me. It was beautiful. I’ve loved horses ever since, though it was the only horse I’ve ever owned. I named it Puff… yes another thing that I didn’t really get where I got the name until recently when my husband reminded me of the song Puff the Magic Dragon. Also didn’t get what that song was about. For the first few years of my life we lived in a trailer by my Aunt Margaret’s. The back part was a barn yard, so the horse stayed there. The only day I have a vague memory of was my parents putting my brother and I on the horse and leading it around the barnyard. Something, probably a dog, walked in front of the horse causing it to panic. My dad grabbed the horse, my mom grabbed my brother…. I fell.
After we moved to the Illk house that my parent’s got from Ralph Goodrich it was a little while before the horse moved to follow us. But after a while my dad did build a pin for the horse. Puff had been broken to ride by my dad’s friend Rick Lane, but would try to rub me off whenever we were near anything. Most of my time riding was instead at my friend Vicky’s house, whose dad had his own rodeo arena in their yard.
I remember coming home from my grandmother’s one day to just find Puff (and my brother’s horse Daisy) gone. My dad ha. d decided to load them up and send them away. I do hope sometime I’ll be able to get a horse again. Maybe one that’s a little better trained for riding, but I’d love to have a horse when we get back to the farm….
While living in the trailer, for a short time, my mother was given a lamb. My mom raised it with a bottle, let it sleep at the end of my bed, and treated it like a dog. My dad docked it’s tail and it roamed the yard like a dog for a while after it became an adult. Somewhere there is a picture of my brother with mud on his face where the lamb had decided his hair looked like hay. My mom has a story of a sales person being confused by the ‘dog’ that had joined the group of dogs to be petted at the door while he was trying to sell her something. Back then people came to the door with everything from vacuum cleaners (Kirby) to encyclopedias… and yes my parents bought them sometimes – my parents even bought a TV once off the back of a truck that came to our door!
and more oh my!
Besides all the others, we also had everything from Buffalo, Fallow Deer, Ferrets, and lots more. The bigger animals like the Buffalo and Deer were fun, but more the type of pets like you see in a zoo. Some of the smaller ones like the ferrets were only at our house for a short visit. – I think the ferret was ours for a weekend. We also would get everything from chickens to calves that we call pets, but would later become dinner. One pair even became named lunch and dinner.
With the new technology that exists, it’s amazing the things you can find and see. While researching Muncie Illinois I had located an old map from the early 1900s. I’ve been trying to match up the streets and find where the original train station was. To match up the map, I was able to pull up the aerial maps from Google Maps. The map not only includes the streets, but you can see an aerial picture of the locations. I can zoom in and out and move around. I also was able to follow the path of the google car and look around as if I was driving down the street in Muncie. The car took the route down Main street and turned onto 150.
Following the Google car route, you can have a 360 degree view around the car!
From the areal, I’ve been able to make out the ball field – which I assume must still be in use. The school which is now being used by the church, and the church with their parking lot. I have pictures of all my favorite spots from the roadside, but the maps are great for comparing with the historic maps.
Our current house has a landing part way up the stairs. I decided to decorate the stairs with current pictures of my immediate family. Finding pictures was a matter of searching my hard drive for the digital photos that would match what I wanted and then printing them in the size I wanted. Using printed pictures I’m sure the quality isn’t as high resolution as previous pictures, but guilt when we want ot swap out of a set of pictures is non-existent. Currently I have a couple pictures of the boys at their current ages and some of them as preschoolers.
I included pictures of ourselves also, and some information about our family tree! Below the family tree of photo frames I have an antique drop leaf gate leg table that includes a chess set on a runner. On the table top is also a lamp from my childhood. The lamp was one found in the Illk house when we moved in after Ralph Goodrich moved on. It is designed to look like a dancer with a lace skirt and huge lace ‘hat’ for a lap shade.
The bottom of the lamp is a nightlight with the top being a standard lamp. I’ve been a little nervous to use the nightlight portion of the lamp for more than a few minutes due to the fragile feel of the skirt. I think it would be likely to be a fire risk if it is lit and heats up.
I claimed this lamp when we moved into the Illk house when I was in second grade and still have it as well as the toddler sized doll. I’d love to know more about the type of lamp and history of the lamp!