My mother, my grandfather, Fear, Milk, and Horses

It was a cold winter in 1960/1961. I was only 5, but enjoyed the snow very much. There was a small hill on the side of the house where I would sled. It was not a very steep hill. However. Mom was very protective, and was always fussing. You see, she was very protective of me, her only child.  She worried that I would get hurt. She was afraid of most things she deemed dangerous. Sledding. Going out on the ice. Swimming etcetera.

Keeping the above in mind, this may be a good time to tell a side story about my mother when she was a child, helping her family with the dairy farm. The year was 1924. Mom was 10. The Fairman family, (my mother’s family) had cows, and chickens on the farm, and a large garden. One of my mom’s chores, was to help deliver milk. Milk was delivered to the customers, in this small town of Dubois Pennsylvania on a horse-drawn cart. Mom would carry the order from the cart to the customer’s door. They would make the stops one by one, delivering the milk, butter, buttermilk, cheese to the milk box on the customers stoop.

Grandfather would often stop and chat with the customers if he ran into them. Then they would head down the road toward the railroad tracks. There is more stops on the other side of the tracks, no pun intended.

Well, the two horses started across the tracks and stopped in the middle. They both see a train coming down the tracks. My grandfather shook the reins with all his might. The horses would not budge, as the train whistle screamed out its warning.  The train was suddenly upon them! WHOOSH, there went the horses, swept clean from the cart! I can just imagine the look on my grandfather, and my mother’s face!! This event helped to instill the fear of things that remained with her the rest of her life. Something was definitely watching over them that day.

So now back to the small hill on the side of my house where I was sledding, and my mother was fussing. Dad would give me a wink. He knew I was having lots of fun. He was always the one that would convince mom that everything was okay. Dad would grab mom by the shoulders, look her in the eye and say, “It’s all right Ruth. He is just fine. He is having fun. All is well.” Moms worried look would turn into a smile. And at least for that moment, her fear would seem to melt away, as dad gave her a big hug, and I zoomed down the hill.  More about mom in a later post.

A fall through the ice and unexpected help

It was the winter of 1960. Cold and lots of snow. I was headed home alone from kindergarten.  We always took a shortcut through the Beaumont Drive retention pond, on the way home to Jono Road.

You would think that the ice on the pond was thick enough to carry a small boy, but this year must have been a warm year. I headed out across the pond, and halfway there the ice cracked, and I fell in! Cold!! OMG!!..

I have maybe ½ mile to get home so I pulled myself out of the hole and before  I could get to my feet I was lifted up. I looked up in astonishment to see the face of David Habenicht. He said nothing as he carried me, cold, and wet the rest of the way home. He was not as bad as his brother Greg said he was.

Matey Bubble Bath Camera Offer

There was a bubble bath back in the early 60s called “Matey”. On the box was a coupon to get a matey camera. All I had to do was send in 3 coupons and 3 dollars to get the camera.

I asked my mom if I could get one. She said “Well. That’s a lot of money Jim. We will see.” 3 dollars was a lot of money back then. Mom talked it over with dad and they agreed that I could get the camera.  Well as you can imagine, I was the cleanest kid in town. I would sometimes take 2 baths in one day, so I would use up the bubble bath quicker.

Dad and me

A picture of my dad and I taken with the Matey Bubble Bath camera

When the 3 boxes of bubble bath was gone mom  helped me mail out the coupons and the check for 3 dollars. I would check the mailbox daily, and in about 2 weeks it came! I was a happy shutterbug!

First Bicycle

I received my first bike on Christmas of 1960. I was so proud of it! It was a small 24 inch sears bike with training wheels. I practiced and practiced with the training wheels on until I noticed that the training wheels weren’t touching the ground as much as they did at first. So around mid summer of 1960, dad took the training wheels off and let me try my first solo ride!

I did okay. I took off down the driveway, turned right, and took off down Jono road towards the Habenichts. There was one problem. He never told me how to stop! I panicked. I went barreling down the road but could not stop! Screaming at the top of my lungs I yelled for help. Fortunately the neighbor Mr. Washington was in his yard, and he headed me off and stopped me, just before I slammed into a mailbox! I am forever grateful for that.