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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Hay Barn and Other Childhood Games – Part Two

From Photo Pin

All of us loved to climb the hay bales in the barn and would get in trouble if caught doing it. Papaw would tell us there were skunks in the barn to keep us out, and after that, my sister Scherri thought she saw one once, but this didn’t deter us.

That old weathered barn with the big double doors drew us in. Once inside, the rich smell of hay filled our noses and we would run and climb upon the golden bales and run across them. They were all neatly stacked in rows of varying heights, some of the rows rising up to the peak of the roof. There was loose hay scattered about the floor that had fallen out at sometime in the past. The hay would make us itch and sneeze, but it was a favorite place to play.

On a large nail by the door, just inside the barn, hung the rope that they used to tie around the bales along with the big hook for lifting the bales and a pitchfork or two. Whenever we needed rope for something this is the first place we would go. We used rope to make jump ropes, or to tie around two tin cans to make a telephone. That rope was handy for whatever childhood project came to mind. Of course, the twine was off limits, as was the barn, so we got in trouble if the adults found us in there.

During summer months, we got into stumbling pursuits after fireflies (lightning bugs) that we would catch in jars or in our hands. We would also go out, catch those hairy caterpillars, and put them in jars, being careful to take a nail and poke holes in the lid so they could breathe. Sometimes we even put in a blade of grass so they would have something to eat.

My sisters and I loved to make mud pies too and would while away a summer afternoon sitting on the bench under the chinaberry trees sifting dirt to make it fine. We used screen wire and an old tin can for this and would try to gather dirt from a few places to get some different colors.

“Oh it still isn’t fine enough.” One of us would say as we looked at the assortment of tin cans and screen and we would sift it some more. When we were satisfied it was smooth and fine enough we would add water and make it into patties that we would place in an old iron skillet or on a piece of screen to ‘cook.’ On a few occasions, we would add some straw to make it different. When I think about it, there sure does seem to be a million and one uses we had for tin cans back then.

Daddy would make us bows and arrows out of tree limbs and old inner tubes that he would cut into strips. We also had slingshots from forked branches. These things could shoot a mean chinaberry. Daddy also would try to teach us to shoot his twenty-two rifle and would line up cans on the fence posts. Of course, we only did this under his supervision. Otherwise, the gun stayed locked up. We all had lectures on being extremely careful with it too and he would always be standing right beside us. This was not one of the favorite things for us girls to do, but I guess he thought we needed to know how.

Sometimes, as the oldest, I would play teacher. We had enough kids for a classroom. Everyone always went along with what I wanted to teach or do. I even gave everybody tests and quizzes and no one seemed to mind.

Once in awhile all of us would pile around the little black and white television and watch Ed Sullivan, Lawrence Welk, or Gunsmoke. Gunsmoke was Daddy’s favorite show. We got that little television when I was six. Most of the time, we played outside, which is something kids don’t do enough of today.

We rode our bicycles down the dirt road to the highway to count the cars on the freight trains and wave at the man in the caboose or to watch for a certain color car to go by on the highway. Scherri and I learned to ride on Daddy’s big, old brown bicycle. We got a blue bicycle for Christmas in 1960 and Bonni got a scooter that was pink.

You can imagine this menagerie as we stopped at each fencepost on the way back from the highway, pretending they were different places in town such as the grocery store, the post office, or the doctor’s office. If two of us ended up at the same post at the same time, we would say:

“Oh hello Mrs. So and so. How are you?” or something to that effect.

Riding in the corn trailer used to be a lot of fun too. We would sit back there with the ears and try to dodge the ones coming out of the shoot. We would be dirty from all those husks and it would itch like the devil, nevertheless, we couldn’t wait to get in there again.

Entertainment would not be complete without mentioning the ball games in the pasture. We would all get together with our cousins and play baseball using the dried cow patties as bases. We had to watch out for the fresh ones, of course, and make sure to run around them or jump over them when running the bases. We had a few mishaps along the way but not too many considering how many of us there were. I am still not sure why we didn’t pick another place for the games and use rocks or something for the bases. I guess it was a lot more interesting this way.

All of us spent quite a bit of time wading in the muddy ditches of water after it rained. This muddy water seemed to be as enticing to us as the old barn and kept beckoning us to enter, so off the shoes would come and before long we would all be knee deep in water. This was especially fun in the summer when it was so hot.

Once in awhile all of us piled into that old pink and white station wagon to go to the dollar a carload drive-in movie in town. We had to keep the windows down in that car all year because the exhaust fumes leaked in, but we didn’t care. It was a day out and off the farm. The first thing we would do is go to the snack bar and buy one of the pic coils for mosquito’s that we could light and place on the dash. In summer, the nights were sticky and the mosquitoes were plentiful. Once the old metal speaker was in place on the edge of the window, we all settled back to watch the movie. Then it was just a matter of saying “shut up” once in awhile and slapping a stray mosquito or two.

Once in a great while, we went to the Dairy Queen after. We would all pile out, sit on the curb, and eat their broiler burgers. They were the best hamburgers I ever had. I wonder now if it was just the event of going to town and I just thought they were fantastic because they aren’t like that today.

As you can see, life on the farm wasn’t all work and no play. The work was hard because you had to deal with all the heat and humidity along with it, but we had our fun times as well. The entertainment was very diverse because there were so many of us. Somebody always had an idea for a game or competition although most of the time they all looked at me first. I guess this is because I’m the oldest. We had our moments of fighting and disagreeing with each other too, but looking back on it, we had lots of fun because there were so many to play with and not too many dull moments.


  1. This post brings back so many memories and talks about things I'd heard about but never experienced as a kid. I was pretty much a city boy--or suburb boy perhaps more accurately. I'd heard about playing in barns and saw then when we traveled, but I never went inside an actual barn until I was in my teens. Same with shooting a gun. We never had guns in our house. I've shot friends' guns before but it's been a number of years. I still don't know much about guns.

    Great memories that I enjoyed reading.

    Wrote By Rote

    1. Lee,

      Thank you for reading and commenting. That's one thing about all these blogs that make them so interesting. We all have different experiences to share.

      I don't own a gun either and know little about them myself, but things are different when you grow up on a farm. There weren't many times we could share with our daddy because he was always on the tractor way out in the field. To him, it didn't matter if we were girls, we still had to learn to shoot. I don't know if that will ever come in handy or not. I haven't held a gun since.


  2. Sunni, this is lovely...its like reading Little House on the prairie' hope there's more

  3. Hi Valerie,

    Thanks for stopping by and reading.

    I guess our life on the farm was a bit like "little house on the prairie." There were so many of us and times were rough usually. We had to make our own fun and we did.

    This post is a snippet from a family book I'm writing about those days.


  4. Hi Sunni I wanted to thank you for commenting on my blog and thought I'd return the favor. I loved your post. It took me many years back. You don't look that old. We didn't get our first TV until I was seven. I used to make mud pies too, but I didn't have a sister who would help me. She's nine years older than me and she thought she was to old to make mud pies. I followed my older brother everywhere he went. Climbing trees, jumping off of roofs and even catching snakes in the park. Your post brought back some fond memories of that time. He died in a car wreck in 1970. He was 23. So thank you for the good memories.

  5. Donna,

    First, let me thank you for stopping by, reading and following. I'm glad I could bring back some happy memories for you.

    Second, I'm very sorry to hear about your brother. How awful that must have been for you. We lost our father in 1980 at age 55. So far the rest of us are still around except for a nephew that was killed in a car wreck in 2009. He was 32. My sister will probably never get over that. She's still in therapy.

    There were many siblings in my house. I'm the oldest of seven and we are all nine years apart. Thank you for the compliment, but I'm older than I look. I guess that's a good thing. I know time will catch up with me eventually.

    Thank you for your post.


  6. I absolutely love your stories! Visit http://www.awakenings2012.blogspot.com/ for Grandpa's School Days.

    You are Super Swe-e-e-e-t! Go to http://catnipoflife.wordpress.com/2012/09/08/super-swe-e-e-e-et-award/ to snag your badge and see the 'rules' of acceptance! Muah!

  7. Sharla,

    Thank you for stopping to read and comment. I'm glad you enjoy my stories. These childhood adventures are part of book that isn't finished yet.

    I will get over and get the Swe-e-e-e-et Award as soon as I can. Thank you for bestowing it on me.


  8. This was so much fun to read, Sunni! You were inventive children for sure! We went to the drive-in and ate at Dairy Queen too. One just opened in our town again and after all these years I couldn't wait to get a Dilly-but I could have sworn the coating had a swirl in the middle, like a curl, and now it's just smooth. I couldn't believe how disappointed I was!

  9. Susan,

    Thank you so much for taking your time to stop by, read and comment. Yes, things as adults are never the same as they were to us as kids. I think this is because it is true two ways - I have a feeling places have changed their recipes on things, plus the fact that as kids it was so special to us and as adults it isn't the same.

    Wouldn't it be nice to be Peter Pan in those instances, where you never grow up and things stay the same as you remember them in childhood?

    Now those are only situations for our dreams.



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