People wonder how I can write with so much confidence about horses and their treatment in the western portion of my stories. We had riding horses, a pony, and one horse that my husband used on round-ups while in Phoenix. I grew up on a farm where horse were used more for the farm plowing and planting than the tractor. One incident has been etched in my mine.
When I was in the primary grades, I attended Gray Consolidated School in Gray, Iowa. It was about five miles from our farm. The mode of transportation was by bus over graveled or graded dirt roads. The school bus driver during my second grade was a man named Mr. Nicely. This struck my seven-year-old brain as something that brought happiness.
When he made the stop to let my youngest brother and me off, he would make sure we were safely across the road before turning down the dirt road to continue his rounds. As an adult I’ve often wondered why he bothered waiting for us to cross the road as no one was going to be driving any faster than 30 or 40 miles in 1944. Some people were still driving Model A and Model T autos. No new vehicles had been built since the start of World War Two. Many farmers returned to using their tractors with metal wheels and that had steel lugs as treads. Any farmer that had a newer tractor with rubber tires ran the risk of not being able to use it if a tire were damaged. There were no new tires for tractors or autos. I remember some of the tubes on my oldest brother’s car looked like one big patch.
On the first day of school, I told my mother about Mr. Nicely’s name and how he watched us cross the road. She informed me that I needed to thank him nicely for such thoughtfulness. At the age of seven, one tends to be quite literal in following your parents’ instructions. The next day, I rehearsed over and over what I would say to Mr. Nicely. Of course, he followed the same routine.
As I stepped down from the bus, I said, “Thank you nicely, Mr. Nicely.” I thought he looked a little funny turning red so rapidly.
Later, at the PTA meeting in Gray, he told my mother about my thanking him and his struggle not to let me see him laugh. He was laughing when he told mother. I was slightly miffed when I heard it as I thought I had done the correct thing and adults laughing meant I had not.
All through the year, Mr. Nicely piloted the bus without incident. March in Iowa was like most: Snow, then snow melting, rain, ice, more snow, warmer weather and melting snow. It would be a challenge going to town to buy groceries and everyone made sure they had sufficient gasoline for farming by keeping a gasoline tank. The gas for the farm equipment was purple and delivered by truck. The allotment was quite high, but if any farmer were caught using purple gas in their automobile gas tank it was instant arrest. Like the rest of the populace, farmers had to use ration stamps to purchase gasoline for going to town or church.
By the end of March there were but a few lumps of snow left in isolated spots. The ground was spongy from melting snow and the plentiful spring rains. It was warm enough that mother let me wear knee highs instead of the hated long cotton socks.
As Mr. Nicely turned the corner and started down the dirt road without gravel, the bus slid into the ditch. No amount of gunning and trying to move forward or back made it budge. Mother appeared wondering why we hadn’t returned to the house immediately.
“Tell Mr. Nicely I’ve gone for my husband,” was her command.
Papa appeared shortly as he drove down the lane and onto the graveled road with the iron monster that was our tractor. This thing had metal wheel and metal lugs on the wheels. Once hooked to the front of the bus, Papa put it into gear and tried to move forward. Nothing happened.
Mr. Nicely requested to use the telephone. We did not have one. He was directed to go over to the neighbor’s house a few yards down the road and use theirs.
“I’ll go hitch up the team while you’re doing that.”
Mr. Nicely shook his head and headed for the neighbors. Few believed that horses could do what a machine could not.
Mr. Nicely returned hanging on to the seat of the neighbor’s John Deere with rubber tires. Mr. Fredrickson had purchased it in 1941 prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor. They looked at Papa coming with our team as a madman and hitched the John Deere to the bus. The results were the same as with the iron monster. The bus remained mired in the red clay and dirt mud.
“Guess I’ll have to call the school, but thanks anyway. I thought sure it would move it.”
Papa brought our team over and proceeded to hitch them to the bus. Mr. Fredrickson and Mr. Nicely were shaking their heads at such folly.
A more mismatched team would have been difficult to find. Molly was older and slower, part Clydesdale and just as large as one. Betty was younger, but still less than middle-aged for a farm horse. Her background was part Morgan and part quarter horse. That meant she was at least two hands smaller than Molly. Her chest was a Morgan’s wide chest, but she had slimmer legs. If things went too slow in the fields, she would move the wagon before Papa had finished with the hay or corn. His powerful voice would be clearly audible for incredible distances as he yelled obscenities at her in both German and English.
Once they were hitched to the bus, Papa slapped the reins over their backs and shouted, “Yo up, Betty, Molly, up.”
The two horses leaned forward pushing their chests into the harness and felt the weight behind them and the resistance of the muck around their hooves. I watched their haunches descend in unison and the muscles tightened in their back haunches. Then their necks stretched out and it was like watching the stored strength in the muscles flow forward. Their steps were perfectly matched as they moved slowly, inch by inch as the bus began to move. Even to my eyes it was strange. I’d never seen them pull so evenly together.
This time Papa kept his voice lower and guided them and the bus up onto the road. Both Betty and Molly were covered with foam and their muscles were quivering while they waited to be unhitched.
The “thank you” and the “I didn’t believe it could be done” were profuse. Papa nodded and grinned and took Molly and Betty back to the barn for a rub down and probably an extra ear of corn or some other treat.
I had never been so proud of Betty and Molly and I never forgot that lesson in horse power.
Mari Collier Blog was first set up to publish my memories of growing up. This was for my daughter and son and their families. Then more of my relatives loved the posts for it included their Grandparents and fathers. Somehow I have continued to post bits of my life there. Occasionally I do post about my novels and anthologies and the struggles and processes of publishing and marketing. Perhaps the best way to explain my weird writing is my website. Such a bucolic upbringing gave plenty of time for my imagination to venture into far places.
I searched diligently for a picture of Betty and Molly, but could not find one. I have included a picture of my husband ready to go on a roundup in Northern Arizona.
My recent post, Word Mongery initiated several comments about the brilliantly fun word game Balderdash that have left me musing all week long. Not just musing, but wishing to play that marvelous game of creativity again, though not a single member of my family will undertake playing it with me any longer (for somewhat obvious reasons!) Which naturally leaves me with a seemingly un-resolvable quandary: How to play without being able to play?
Solution? You got it! Invite YOU to play with me. 🙂 🙂 Oh come on now, it will be fun! I promise. …and I also promise NOT to win. Well, I’ll try anyway!!
So here’s how this will work, or at least, I hope it will work.
I will post the Balderdash Blog Blast Invitation which will pose a most peculiar word for you. One that (hopefully) not many of us recognize or know the true definition of, but one that will Inspire mass creativity. I will also pose a possible Definition by commenting first, one that may or may NOT be the actual definition.
Then YOU (yes YOU!) will post a comment, in which you will counter propose a plausible definition of said word. One that may be funny, wildly creative, ingeniously inexplicable, or downright outrageous (Keepin’ it PG Of course!).
The crucial part comes when YOU and I and everyone else playing returns throughout the week to cast Votes for the definition they like via a reply to the comment of that respective definition.
ok ok, this is crazy I know…here’s and example:
Comment: a gooey mess of sticky residue
Comment: a made up explanation
Comment: a turkey with something stuck between its toes
(LOL I love this game, even when I Play alone!) So as you can see, the Comment: ‘a made up explanation’ got the most votes, so that person wins. Fun? Potentially, but only with participation! So play, then be sure to tell all your word-addict, word-game aficionado friends to come play too.
What does the person who wins win, you ask rather quizzically? Respect for their stellar creativity? Props for being johnny-on-the-spot with quick wit? A Good laugh and a Smile?
Yes! Yes! Yes!
OH One more thing…A Blog Boost! Because the next weekend, I’ll pose another word AND (and and) post the Definition of the previous week’s word, as well as the previous week’s winner with links to their blog so HOPEFULLY persons who are interested, intrigued, or even just morbidly curious about their Imaginative ingenuity may wander by for a visit. (See so there really is a reason to play besides it just being fun!)
OK SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO after all that blather (a thing you know I do oh so well!) Here is the First Word in the First Round of the first ever Balderdash Blog Blast ………………………….. (applause, cheers, hoots, holla’s, waves, snorts of derision and whatever else!)
So here we are, on the “other” side of the Holiday (relatively speaking). I do not go all out for New Years, anymore; I dare say I’ve gotten over it (well, gotten over the parties, frosty beverages and mornings after wishing I had stayed home the night before). Maybe it’s my age (be careful agreeing too quickly, you!) but I find New Years Day spent with family, enjoying a crockpot full of pork roast and sauerkraut on top of a steaming mound of creamy mashed potatoes and a lovely salad far more enticing (again, relatively speaking) than the jello shots (never a favourite, really), the bottles of vodka (more of a favourite, I do confess it, blended nicely with some LifeWater for flavour), and a few cherry bombs for good measure.
Sitting down at table with hearty food, even heartier laughter, with a dessert course of left over sweet treats from Christmas and an afternoon spent in frivolity playing games or cards (yep, I’m showing my age!) is my idea of properly bringing in the New Year. Oh to be sure, a trip to my favourite Isle across the pond would trump any such day, beyond a shadow of a doubt, but that has yet to happen, so I’ll keep it (more or less) real.
I’m a word game person, naturally, and, if truth be told, somewhat unfortunately, since I, admittedly, generally end up winning these games (Balderdash being my all time, number one pick for a great party game) (you know, the game where you get an obscure word from the dictionary and then have to make up a definition for it to win points and, sooner or later, the game) which, then, no one wants to play anymore because I’ve won the last five rounds. (it’s rather like trying to enjoy a murder mystery weekend with Sherlock, NO fun!) It’s a double-edged sword, this word-mongery!
By this point, you are, no doubt, beginning to wonder where I’m going with this post. That would make two of us! Nope, honest and true, I promise, I have no idea what I’m talking about…er, that is, I have no particular point or direction in which I am going; just sojourning (along with you, apparently) (My apologies, I think) through the vast wilderness of words that lies like a frontier before us, waiting to be explored, ever beckoning (rather like those New Years Eve beverages I’m trying to elude!)
Being a Word-Monger, I am entirely capable of prattling on, pointlessly, seemingly without end (a fact of which, I am quite sure, you are already very well aware). This continuous flow of words takes me (and you along with me) here, there and anywhere. From the hum-drum to the fantastical; from the nearby (like Cape May, NJ) to the far, far away (like the Village of Hwyndarin in my own made up world of Feyfolk); from the evocative to the entirely inconsequential, these words create a river upon which I willingly drift, day in, day out.
As Del Griffith so eloquently put it, (John Candy’s legendary and immortal bumpkin in the movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles) “I just go with the flow, like a twig on the shoulders of a mighty river.” Yet, being this word-monger, (or perhaps, after greater consideration, the phrase wordsmith might make a bit more sense) (but since I’m more enamored with Word Monger, I’m staying with that) (where was I?), the river is one of my own creating, as well as the boat, and the places to which I travel. The people I meet are crafted from my own imagination, to be as interesting, sophisticated, beautiful, ridiculous or unmemorable as I so desire and the adventures I have are as exhilarating, terrifying, and/or heart-warming as I care for them to be.
It is a marvelous thing to be Blessed with such an expansive and, seemingly, never-ending imagination; I rarely get bored; I seldom have little to talk about (again, that’s a double-edged sword!) and I can always close my eyes and fill my thoughts (not to mention my blog) with magical notions that seem to be appreciated as much by you (since you are still here reading and, as far as I can tell, do not [yet] have that puzzled expression on your face) as by me. Being inclined in a verbose nature, or gifted with expression, or perhaps you might say Quietness Challenged, is as intoxicating to me as any of those New Years Eve enticements and far more lasting….
But when people are trying to beat me at a word game, being a Word Monger with a vast repertoire of colourful words and phrases isn’t, necessarily, quite as appreciated. 🙂
Wishing you ALL a Delightful and Rewarding 2017 filled with a similar Blessing of words, phrases, characters, plots, musings, verses, and lyrical Magic!
Beautiful Original Artwork by: Dary Frakes
Take this reconnoiter
Bravado seeking upon Inspiration’s shore
Break the tide of repetition
With false imagination,
More and more,
While all once sought
Stands waiting unseen
And the charismatic plot
Turns verdant green
For failing splendour without improvisation
Though emulation favours
‘tis naught but stagnation
Beautiful photograph found on Pinterest. Credit Gratefully Acknowledged to the Original Photographer. Thank you~
Delving Mystery in Shades Unseen
Realm of Shadowed Light and Moonbeam
Glimmering in Apollo’s Hand
Whispering Softly of that Enchanted Land
Where Magic Springs
Where Intrepidity Sings
Realm where Imagination Dreams
This poem is in a structure of AABBCCA. Although it may have a specific term, I may also have just made it up. Nevertheless, it spoke and I wrote 😉
Care to try your hand,
Write a Verse about this Distant Land
if you Dare
so we can all Track
Inspiration really is Grand
Beautiful Original artwork found on HD Wallpapers. Credit Gratefully Acknowledged to the Original Artist. Thank You~
A very long time ago, before anybody had ever been born, there lived a creature very unlike you and me that roamed these lands alone. He was enormous, more than four times the height of man and three times as wide. He resembled a human, though he was not mortal. Continue reading
(My very first post ever!)
The Book and Volume of This Distracted Globe
Or Book and Volume
Admittedly, I am an amateur. Sure, I’ve heard about blogs for years, heard people talking about posts round the proverbial water cooler, but I’ve never actually read one.