Sunday, May 4, 2008

Larry (Installment 5)

The Garden

My mother always had a garden. The first few years it was by the side of the house around the apple tree that was out there. Later it was moved into the back yard where there was more room. We worked as a family to put the garden in. We would grow things that could be used by the family; carrots, peas, cabbage, beats, broccoli, corn, cucumbers, squash, beans, potatoes, and so on. We tilled the garden with shovels or with a roto-tiller for the first few years, but dad had somebody come in with a tractor to turn the soil when we moved the garden to the back yard.


We had a dog that was my dad’s. His name was Thunder. He was blue tick hound. He was chained to the apple tree that was in the middle of the garden spot. The chain wrapped around the tree caused the tree to die. In later years the tree formed a hollow core. Dad discovered a stash of Donnie's beer in the tree stump and set the stump on fire. The beer exploded as it heated up. Donnie acquired a new nickname – stump. Thunder would bark at just about anything that would move. He appeared to be ferocious. The neighborhood kids would tease him and he would go into rages. It was a good thing that he was chained to a post so he could not get to the kids that teased him.

The Yard

A couple of apple trees and a couple of pine trees were found out in the yard. It was a large yard. It was about 160 feet by 320 feet. The front half of the yard was where the house was located. It was set about 30 feet from the ditch that ran along the side of the dirt road in the front of the house. The ditch was one of our favorite playing places for many of the kids in the neighborhood. There was a bridge that went over the ditch into the yard that my dad put there so he could get the gas truck into the yard to put fuel in the tanks for the oil stove. The path cut into the yard by the truck split the yard about in half, where the house was on one side and the garden was on the other.

The back yard was about the same size as the front yard and house. It was enclosed by fence on all sides and had the two pine trees between it and the house. Those pine trees are where the ants grew that tormented me one day. I was about four at the time. One of those ants navigated up my pant leg, on the inside, and attached firmly to my scrotum. The ant then secreted its fluid that makes a powerful sting. I was in trouble. What was I to do since it hurt so much that I could not muster the strength to zip down my zipper? My mother came to my rescue and extracted that pesky little critter. The outhouse was back there until my papa put in indoor plumbing. The indoor plumbing required a cesspool. He dug it with a shovel and collected flat rock from the mountains to line it. We took a truck up to Osier somewhere and collected flat rocks. Bonnie dropped one of the rocks on her hand and broke a finger.

At the back of the back yard was the big willow tree that was in line with the fence. In fact, it was part of the fence. It was the climbing tree, because it had a low crotch with a very large diameter trunk. It was back there by the pen that was used for the pigs we raised for consumption. It was remarkable what those pigs would eat. Some carp we caught down at the Rio Grande were consumed in great haste and not a trace of waste.


  1. One summer, Dad and Mom decided to each have their own garden. Each was convinced that they could do better than the other.

    Mom's garden was to the south of the house and Dad's was to the east. Mom would have won the competition, but she spent time in Dad's garden every day after she worked her own.

    We had a lot of vegetables that year.

  2. I don't remember the competition, but I do remember the garden plot being moved to the back lot.


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