Monday, May 4, 2015

The most pleasant of times

As a young boy growing up in the Osage I had few cares but a wonderful place to roam and explore.  Larry, my older brother, and I would go fishing behind the house on the creek where there was a big bend in the creek creating a deeper water where we could always catch fish.  There was always a dead tree in the creek which captured many a hook from my fishing pole.  For the most part I always used an old Zebco real and rod but prior to that it was a cane pole purchased at the Otasco Store in Shidler from Mr. Curnutt.  I don't know why but it seemed that I could catch more catfish and Larry could catch more bass in that fishing hole.

The bate was really the difference and we had lots of resources for getting bate.  Here were our choices:  grasshoppers, worms, minnows or liver from the freezer.  We never had a shortage of bate but it was a matter of how much time we wanted to spend on finding and catching the bate.  I particularly liked getting the seine and gathering minnows.  There were all kinds in the net but my favorite was a shiner with red slightly red fins but baby perch were really good as well.

Back to exploring.  If it were not for the need to eat now and then I could spend all day roaming up and down the creek looking for Indian arrowheads or just specialty rocks from the gravel bars along the creek.  In fact sometimes it was just nice laying on the gravel and enjoying the summer breeze and the cool shade from an abundance of giant cotton wood trees along the creek, Beaver Creek of course.  And skipping rocks was a great sport if you have never tried it you must.  The first thing you do is look for the flattest rocks and then you take one in your hand bending down to one side and flicking the wrist and letting the rock go so it would Skip across the water.  The idea is to see how many times it would skip on the water before falling into the creek.   About 9 skips was the most I can remember and that was very unusual.  Larry Wayne and Billy Snyder were pretty good at it and actually I think they cheated me because I was younger.

If you got bored with fishing and I should let you know you never skip rocks while or before fishing as you might scare the fish then it was time to take the 22 rifle out and look for turtles.  Of course you had to be careful but the creek banks were tall so if a bullet skipped off the water it would just to into the dirt across the way.  I was never bored with the creek as it was always full of things that kept my brain busy.  I collected rocks and leaves from the vast variety of trees and shrubs plus looking for all kinds of birds and animals was great fun.  It was easy to find squirrels and I mean the big red ones which are at least two to three times bigger than the city squirrels we see today.  Birds of every kind worked back and forth along the creek including chicken hawks (as we called them), eagles, red birds, blue birds, crows, blackbirds by the millions lingered in giant clouds for literally miles, prairie chickens, sparrows and bazillions of other varieties.  There were also occasional coons or raccoons as city folks call them, coyotes, possums (especially around the barns), skunks and very few deer in those days but lots of quail and a rare pheasant.  We had bobcats and an occasional badger which was scary and mean.  Of course we had cattle which were fun to watch especially the young calves which would romp around their parents and drive them nuts, kind of like I use to drive my mom nuts when I was so active.

As I look back I can see that as I got older and responsibilities started creeping into life God had a really good plan that in my mind city life has messed up for kids.  As a kid my world seemed huge and unending with all kinds of possibilities for my imagination to expand.  No limits, so what happened?   def

I was lucky because I had the best teachers in the world, Mom and Dad plus Debbie and Larry, friends and family plus Mrs. Geneva Snyder, Mrs. Cassleman, Mrs. Shumate, Lewis Morris, Coach Gilbreth, Pablo Alverado, Miss Dozer, Jan Harris (PET - Pregnant English Techer), Aunt Gladys Snyder, Helen Head and the list goes on and on.  What I don't want to do is leave out those that we don't think as much about like Ernie Eaton who owned the dairy but had a great sense of humor and you could watch him work and know life was good, Jim Olsen who was always friendly and good natured or Vea Harris who always fixed you something to eat and had time to visit with you but made sure you towed the line on some mischievous behavior that Eddy and I had on occasion.  Then there was Paul Jones who worked hard and played hard, Bob Scott who was diligent about taking care of the Grainola School or Lizie who cooked for us and loved us at school.  How about Uncle Snyd Snyder and Arnold Jones and the many other men who fought in WWII because it was the right thing to do.  How about the encouragement from people like Aunt Helen Conner or Helen Head (another English teacher) or Wendall Andrews who was the president of the Shidler State Bank who would take the time to talk to you about business even when you are only 9 years old and taking out a loan to buy some sheep.  Many times it was a high school buddy or one of their parents who just encouraged me a little or that bystander that I never knew at a ballgame that said a few words about how hard we worked as a team that made a difference.  Lets don't forget the Kerney Grahams of the world who gave special attention to the development of our spiritual beliefs and values.  You know there were a lot of folks who made a difference.

OK, gentle breezes and waiving wheat, fat cattle in the pasture, hogs snorting around the farm pens and chickens looking for bugs plus the old farm dog laying under the tree waiting for my next move are all part of the farm life that I hold so dear.  It is hard to believe I ever yearned to leave.

So what do you learn in the Osage?
  • The best of times are the good memories of life
  • People everywhere make a difference, just make sure you do your part to make this a better place
  • Pay attention to the details, small things count a lot more than the big things
Thanks for your time,

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