My father had wavy blond hair and large blue eyes and he was always very slim. It wasn’t necessarily genetics . He never over ate. Mother could have his favorite pie, gooseberry, and he would put it aside and at the next meal he would eat it first. He was a farmer but not born to it and truthfully he never took to it like he needed.
When we children were little he was young and full of fun—as frolicking as a new colt and just as uncoordinated. The times he played with us in the summer evenings were always special. Mom would bring her chair and watch—usually with a little one in her lap. or she was darning socks. “Now Paul,” she would say many times, “don’t act a fool and get hurt” much laughter always from my three brothers.
One evening we were playing Red Rover. The two bases were about 20 feet apart with our clothes line crossing the middle distance. The clothes line was a slender wire not a rope line as it is in most cases. As twilight came on one could not see it easily. A fact pointed out by mother and therefore this was not the best place to play Red Rover. My father said it was okay he would remember to run under it – the rest of us too short to worry about it. The play had hardly begun before in Father’s excitement to tag my oldest fleet-footed brother, the hapless man ran full force into the wire clothes line. It caught him under his chin and flipped him over, sprawling into the grass.
“Oh my goodness!”, Mother screamed “what have you done to your father!”. We children began to cry, the dogs set up a barking chorus, the nearby chicken yard clacked up a ruckus. Father got awkwardly up. Feeling foolish. He walked up and down the yard , bent over and touched the ground and in general showed mother he was all right. Mother put hot liniment on his neck that made him holler. He had a sore neck the next day anyway and an ugly welt that was hard to explain to neighbors who asked. But he assured us there would be more games but no more bases that ran under the clothes line ever again.
As a historical artist, I am mindful that such snippets of memory as these weave the fabric of our family history; the platform on which our American history is built.