The summer is coming to a close and soon school days will be upon us. Today my Uncle Harold has his pick-up truck ready to roll and asks me if I would like to earn a little money. That is like music to my ears, so I hop in and here we are in my Uncle Roy’s field ready to rake and load the hay that has dried in the August sun. Uncle rakes and forks it on the truck and that is when my work begins. I tread it down from one corner of the truck body to the other and as soon as I have made it around to the beginning, another fork full hits me in the face. I wave my arms around and sputter it out of my mouth and keep treading. It has been about an hour now and the pile is getting higher. Each time Uncle Harold moves the truck, I cling on for dear life as he rolls it over ditches and rocks in his way. He has quite the sense of humor I guess. I wonder if he knows how much an eleven year old girl weighs? I could be bounced into the woods and he’d never know it! At last the load is above the roof of the cab and he says we are ready to drive it home and store it in Grampa and Grammy’s barn. I thought he was going to have me get off the hay and into the front seat, but no , I am clinging to the sides of the cab roof as we go up the road by Twitchell Pond and up the hill to the barn.
Finally, it is done. The hay is pitched and tread into the loft and I leave with the fifty cent piece in my pocket. Hay chaff is stuck to every part of my body in the sweat of the afternoon sun. I quickly run home, change and go to Grammy’s beach to wash it all off!
Rex and Roland have been working for Wilmer Bryant on Rowe Hill, picking cucumbers out of his garden to be shipped to Paris to a pickle factory, I think. That is hard work on the back, he says. While Rex is helping Wilmer, I have been in charge of his frog business. Rex catches little frogs in the bog and in the brook and sells them to bass fishermen who come to Birch Villa Inn, in Bryant Pond. When a car with an out of state license plate comes into the yard, I know it is a stranger who needs bait. I take him out back and lift the cage out of the water where Rex stores his frogs. I ask how many he wants for three cents each and grab them and put them in his bait container.
The frog business has been going on for a few years. Rex is a business man, even though he is only 18 months older. Not long ago, he discovered our oldest cousin was selling frogs as well and selling them for a penny less!! Rex met our cousin on the road half way between his house and ours. It was a very tense moment!! Rex confronted him and he said that he would continue selling as long as he wanted. Then my brother grabbed him and threw him into the bog. Oh, no! Our cousin had on his new Sears overalls that he was planning to wear to school in a few weeks. Now I knew that Rex would really get it!! Well, my mother and our cousin’s mother met and talked the whole thing over, laughed and said kids will be kids and that was the end of it. But Rex said at least he was the only frog seller in our neighborhood again. Well, he is coming home today and probably will be concentrating on his trapping.
I don’t know how he gets up so early once his trap line is ready, but he does. The worse part is somewhere and I do not ask where, he skins out his muskrats and has special boards he puts them on to dry before he ships them somewhere. All I know is that he hangs them in a row at the head of the attic stairs and if I am not careful, I run my face into them in the dark mornings. He thinks it’s funny. I don’t.
But now Dad is calling to see if Curt and I want to ride to Greenwood City and look for bottles on the way . Dad backs up the 1933 Chevy and Curt takes one window and I sit at the other. When we spot a bottle, we yell and Dad stops and backs the car up. Out one of us jumps, grabs the bottle and puts it in the stash on the back seat floor. By the time we get to Wilbur Yates’ store, we have quite a few bottles and once we cash them in, the fun begins. Mr. Yates and Dad visit while Curt and I look over the candy counter and decide what we want. There are 2 for a penny, 3 for a penny and some are a penny each. We both decide and Mr. Yates puts them in two little brown bags. Curt and I sit in the car while Dad and Mr. Yates do some unfinished business and we swap the candy back and forth until we are satisfied. I like the little wax bottles filled with the pretty tasting liquid and then I chew the wax after I drink the insides. Curt thinks the wax is awful. He has some bubble gum and I don’t like that. There are Mary Janes and oh, the little white candy sticks with the red tip that look like real cigarettes. We feel very grown up putting those in the corner of our mouths and laughing. We do not, however, do that when Ma is around! I think my favorites are the Necco wafers because I save the white ones to snap under the blankets in the dark. They make a little spark!!! Soon we are on our way home. Dad toots the horn at Toivo Lehto’s house, a Finnish friend who comes to visit, to let him know we are in the area. Soon we are chugging up Falls Hills and past the Ames Place and tooting again by Uncle Roy’s house to let him know we are out and about.
No sooner have I got out the car and Uncle Louis is at the corner of Grammy’s house calling to me. He calls me Bridget and I don’t know why, but guess it suits him to call me that. He has the most beautiful blue eyes I have ever seen and I always look at them. He needs someone to turn the handle of the grindstone so he can sharpen his axe. He pours some water in the bottom of what looks like part of an old car tire and I turn the handle of the grindstone, while he lays his axe very gingerly on it. It seems like forever and my arm is about to fall off when he says, Bridget, I think we have it and he feels the axe with the side of his thumb. He digs in his pocket and gives me a nickel. I thank him and he pats my head.
It has been a long day from haying to riding to turning the grindstone, but I have some money saved for school supplies. I know Grampa Martin will soon want Rex and me to walk the potato fields again, picking off the potato bugs and put them in jars. We get a nickel for each jar along with Grampa grumbling about the bugs. Grammy will want her lawn mowed with the little push mower and she insists on giving me a dime. Ma says no, you do not take money for helping your grandparents. I know that and I tell Gram but she puts it in my hand and says, now you take this and run along.
Sometimes life is very difficult for someone my age. Whew.