Recently, memories were brought to my mind about how careful Dad was when we were young. With seven children to feed, clothe and care for, it must have been more-than-a-full-time job for he and Mother to keep us safe. All seven of us grew up with all fingers intact, all toes intact, no broken-down knees, no crooked elbows, and only one (me) who had rounded shoulders. (And that was my fault. I was 12 when I started high school and I didn’t like being taller than all the boys in my freshman class so I slumped to look shorter.)
We were cautioned to be careful when we went fishing. Usually our parents were there to supervise us and see that we didn’t fall into the ponds or creeks. Dad went with us when we hunted. He supervised closely when we worked around machinery. Dad wouldn’t let any of his children run the sickle mower; he said it was too dangerous.
We grew up without broken arms and legs. That was probably because Dad didn’t let us climb trees. We had a wind-driven windmill that pumped water but he was the one who climbed to the top when it needed greasing or the blades adjusted.
Dad wanted us to learn to swim, but he never had time to teach us. He’d take a quick dip in the pond after a day’s work in the summer to get clean, but he never lingered in the water. He left it up to Mother to teach us to swim so we wouldn’t drown.
Mother had never learned to swim. She made water-wings for us. In a 50-pound flour sack, she’d sew two gallon jugs with the lids tightly screwed on, then move each to the end of the sack and we’d lay across the middle and learn to paddle and kick. Then she’d take the gallon jugs out and put in two half-gallon jars, tightly sealed. (Many women canned in half-gallon jars.) When we could keep ourselves up and going, she’d replace the jars with quart jars, tightly sealed, and after we progressed to pint jars, swimming with ease, she took the water-wings away and we were swimming everywhere and for long distances.
Considering the dangers we faced when we were young, it is a miracle and a tribute to both parents that we grew up intact and unbroken.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad.
Marjorie Buchanan is a life-time resident of Pawnee County. She enjoys being outdoors. She welcomes comments at P.O. Box 4, PAWNEE, OK 74058-0004 or email@example.com.