|My tale has a different perspective of rural life while growing up in the ‘70s. I was fortunate enough to not only live in a small town, but also had grandparents living kitty-corner across the street. My grandparents were such a big part of my life, I called them “Mom” and “Dad” far back as I can remember and even continue to do so today. Then what did I call my parents you ask? Why they were known as “Mommy and “Daddy”. See how simple that is? |
Life was so carefree in that small town. Our house was only two blocks from “downtown”, but our road was dirt. To keep down the dust in the summer time, the city trucks use to spray used crankcase oil on the road. It soaked in rather quickly and didn’t mess up the cars too much, but it sure did a number on out bare feet – D-i-r-t-y! The police department consisted of a chief and two deputies and the over-all atmosphere of our little berg was that of the famed “Mayberry”.
My Grandpa was a farm boy who worked like a man since he was nine years old and even knew how to plow the old fashioned way; with a team of horses. After WWII he landed a job in the big city working in the shipping department for a large corporation and worked his way up to a department executive by the age of 48.
Apparently as the saying goes, you can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy. My Grandpa kept the 40-acre farm he grew up on and eventually inherited. Weekdays were often spent with my Grandmother who was like a best friend. Granddad always had multiple projects going on around his one acre city lot and I was always there wanting to help. My father always worked late with his drywall business, so I was always “over at Dad’s house”. Weekends were extra special; he’d take me out to his farm to help with clearing brush, mending fences or making repairs to the old farm house he rented out. All the animals were gone, but between the fields, two barns and five outbuildings, there was always something to do. Riding on the rear fender of his Massey Ferguson was the highlight of my day. I guess he didn't want the commitment or raising animals again, but he took pride in that 40 acres like he was still living there.
Looking back now I’m sincerely thankful for our time together. Clearing brush, mending fences, repairing almost everything, different ways of using ropes and chains to tie down or move things. As I got older I learned the proper way to handle an axe and chainsaw, operating various equipment and most importantly, fixing and maintain them. That man taught me how to really work and that getting your hands dirty ain’t so bad. “Don’t worry, dirt washes off”, he’d say.
In his early seventies he finally sold the old farm and moved to Florida like he always wanted to do. Since then, the small town and other neighboring areas where I grew up started to fall victim to subdivisions, strip malls and hundreds of city people that wanted to “move out to the country”, but all they did was bring the city and all it’s turmoil with them. Well as they say, “that’s progress”.
So now that I’m grown with my own family, I decided my kids would experience an upbringing that offers more than malls and subdivisions. My wife and I moved an hour North to a rural township, population of about 850, and found 10 beautiful acres, 60% wooded with a pond. Next year we plan to start small with a dozen or so chickens, ducks and maybe a goat or pig. Lord willing, I hope to provide my son and daughter with a childhood as “grand” as the one my Grandparents gave me.
RCH — Southeastern, MI, from MI, entered 2002-03-26