It’s been a little over a year since we lost Dad. I think about him every day. In those thoughts I also wish for one more conversation, one more meal shared, one more road trip.
This week, I realized I could share one more story that is actually in Bob Moore’s own words. Several years ago, he wanted to submit some childhood memories to a publication compiling personal experiences from people who grew up in northeastern Missouri. He asked me if I would help him and of course I was thrilled to assist. The following are the short, funny vignettes that I wrote down as he shared them with me. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do:
“During the early years of my childhood, we lived in northwestern Missouri near Ridgeway. In the spring of 1952, my parents moved from Ridgeway to a dairy farm southwest of Palmyra in northeastern Missouri with my three sisters and me. My older brother, Dick, stayed in Ridgeway where he completed his senior year and graduated from high school. This move was a new experience for my parents and siblings, as we had never lived on and worked a dairy farm.
My sister, Liz, and I attended a one room country school called Stonehill, which we walked to each day. Marilyn was a few years older and attended high school in Palmyra. My baby sister, Carol, was not in school yet.
As a young boy in Ridgeway, I loved to ride my pony and play cowboy. Our farm had a large dry pond, which was ideal for riding around while pretending to fight off the bad guys. There was a cut in the dam of the pond that was great for my adventures. One day, my dad watched me from the barn as I rode across the old dry bed of the pond and through the cut in the dam. The pony came out, but I did not! Dad panicked and ran to see how badly I was injured. Imagine his surprise to find me laying down for cover on the dam, pretending to fire my rifle (BB gun) at invisible targets! I told him later that I had slid off my pony to the ground while going through the cut at a full gallop! Needless to say, that was not the first, nor the last anxious moment I caused my dad!
Cow Tail Flotation Device
Living on a dairy farm for the first time near Palmyra had its share of new experiences. One afternoon, my sisters and I had to go back out to the pasture to drive the dairy cows up for milking. On the way into the barn, we had to cross a swollen creek due to heavy rain that day. The milk cows were able to cross without any problem, but in order for us to cross, we had to hang on to the tails of the cows so we would not be swept into a larger creek, where we would have been in a lot of trouble. My dad lost is appetite later that evening when we told him what we did and he scolded us for our daring stunt!
One of my favorite things to do was to throw snowballs at my dad. I loved hiding out and bombarding him with a pile of snow bombs. He was always a good sport, but he was also a patient man!
One day he got even. Living on a Grade A dairy farm required an outhouse. I did not realize that this outdoor privy would be my downfall. One day, Dad waited until I went to use the outhouse and literally caught me with my pants down! As I was standing up to leave, Dad suddenly opened the door and threw a huge pile of snow right into into my pants! Revenge was sweet for him that day!
Fishing with Mr. Waters
One of our neighbors, Mr. Waters, was an avid fisherman. He would come to our place and take me fishing. There was a large lake on our farm, but we were leasing the property, and the owner of the farm told us he did not want anyone fishing on the pond, especially Mr. Waters. Once the owner asked Dad if he ever saw Mr. Waters fishing there. Dad told him, “No, I have never seen him fishing there,” even though Mr. Waters had just come and taken me to go fishing. But he was telling the truth, he had never SEEN Mr. Waters fishing at the pond!
While attending high school, I started boxing in the FFA shop before school and during lunch. I actually was a bit of a natural and grew quite confident in my skills. One might even say I got a little cocky and showed up for each match with my boxing swagger!
One morning, my sister Marilyn’s boyfriend, Jay Dee, invited me to box with him. I was a freshman and he was a senior. Now, my dad anticipated trouble ahead and instructed me not to box Jay Dee, but I decided to take him up on the offer anyway. It didn’t take long for me to get the upper hand and I laid it on him pretty soundly. He got mad enough that the principal escorted him to the school office to cool down. Marilyn knew what Dad had told me about not boxing Jay Dee, so I knew I was in trouble! She told on me that night.
Dad turned to me and said, “Did you whip him?”
“Yes.” I said sheepishly.
He replied, “Good, you had better!” My sister was now really hot and mad when I did not get into trouble and stomped out of the room proclaiming about the injustice of it all. Jay Dee and I had a good laugh about it a few years later when he became my brother-in-law!
I boxed a lot of people and had a lot of wins. I even boxed my FFA instructor and handled him quite well, too. However, one day I lost my swagger. A junior challenged me to a match and I accepted as usual. Nothing went my way this time. While I was still getting my gloves tied, he hit me without warning. It was downhill from there and I ate a little humble boxing pie that day!
Spinning Her Wheels
One evening at a school carnival, some friends and I obviously could not find enough to entertain us with all the options at the carnival. And since boredom is a sure sign of mischief to come, we cooked up a little something to have some fun. The plan was to lift our teacher’s car up onto cement blocks so that the tires were just off the ground. We were successful in this task and watched with delight as the teacher got in her car, started the engine and tried to drive away. Obviously, she didn’t go anywhere as the wheels just spun. We left the carnival satisfied with our little prank. The part of the plan we did not anticipate was that someone saw what we were up to and reported us. So, we had to go and apologize to her the next week. We couldn’t get away with anything!
Making the Sports Page
I played football at Palmyra High School in Marion County. At our final game one season, we were winning by a large margin. As I ran from the field to the sidelines, I turned my ankle somehow and sprained it pretty badly. The next week, I was sitting in study hall and noticed that my coach was passing around a newspaper from St. Louis. Each person that read it would turn to me and laugh. Eventually, Coach brought the paper over for me to see. The headline on that sports page read, “Sophomore tackle trips over chalk line and breaks his ankle.” So, my lapse in coordination made the St. Louis sports section and they didn’t even get the info right! My foot wasn’t broken. But, I guess broken was a better story than sprained! Regardless, my classmates all got a good laugh on my account.
Later in high school we moved to Bethany, Missouri. I was teasing my sister Liz one day after lunch, which was pretty normal. We were only about a year apart, and actually quite close. But I still reveled in giving her a hard time–my way of expressing brotherly love.
However, this time I must have really hit a nerve because after I made a smart remark, she started after me in a fury. I ran for the door and bolted through it. As it slammed shut, I heard a TWAAANG!!!!!! on the other side of the door. Startled and curious, I abruptly stopped and came back through the door. There, still wiggling from its impact into the door, was a knife she had picked up and thrown at me! It was stuck in the wood at about my shoulder blade height. The look of astonishment on her face was priceless and my mother was left stunned and speechless!”
Denise writing again. My favorite story that my dad told which is not included in these memories is about peach pits and slingshots. Family lore is that my dad and his siblings had a whole lot of fun on the farm… and so did Grandpa! One prank they often pulled was to collect peach pits and lie in wait for Grandpa to come by. Then they would attack him from all sides.
So he started carrying a slingshot in one pocket and peach pits in the other whenever he went out to work. One day he was in town talking to some folks and they were making fun of the slingshot hanging out of his overall pockets. Grandpa‘s response was “if you lived with a bunch of ruffians like I do, you’d have to defend yourself too!”
Dad, I can’t tell you how grateful I am for your whole, joyful story of a life that has brought me so much laughter, offered challenge and given me perspective on so many days. We’re headed to the mountains next weekend. Sure wish you were going with us!
Happy Father’s Day.