I've written here about this subject before, but it's on my mind this morning. You can read pretty much the same thing in ANOTHER ENTRY. In fact, if you type "wyant farm" in the search box at the upper left of this page, you will see many entries about it. That place left its mark on me.
For the first eleven years of my life, my parents earned a living, the two of them together, serving as "Central": They were telephone operators for various small-town telephone companies in Iowa and finally north Missouri. I've told stories about all that in this blog. We lived in Iowa until the early fifties, then moved to Eagleville. We moved often, from one telephone office to another, and I changed schools frequently. In spite of that, my childhood was a happy one. But what I'm thinking of this morning is the place where I spent the most blissful interlude of my life: Glen Wyant's farm, near Eagleville.
I'm sure my parents were in turmoil at the time, because the Eagleville telephone office had closed, making way for new, modern phone service and phasing their jobs totally out of existence. I didn't have a clue.
When Daddy became a hired hand for Glen Wyant, we moved to an old two-story farmhouse on his property. Glen had a cow he told my folks they could milk; Mother moved her chickens from town to the hen house on the Wyant property. We were officially living on a farm, and I was in heaven. My dream had come true! I had all the room in the world to roam, and roam I did. I poked around the barn and made friends with a calico cat living there. She turned out to be the first creature I ever saw giving birth. Up to that time I had no idea how any creature entered the world.
It was quite a while before I learned how the kittens got inside the cat; my mother wasn't anxious for me to learn such things.
I had great freedom to roam because Daddy had chores and farming tasks to do for Glen, and Mother worked at Vanzant's grocery and dry goods store. I might go all day without seeing either one of them. I found wild strawberries growing along the roadside in a ditch and took them to the house, washed them, and ate them with sugar and cream. I did the same with blackberries I picked at the edge of the woods.
I know we lived there for at least three seasons: I recall an Easter spent there, and I remember the wood stove keeping us warm in the winter. Oh yes, and autumn! I was pretending to be a whole tribe of Indians in the woods by myself and decided to have a campfire, using dried leaves to start it. Good grief, looking back I wonder how I kept from burning the woods down, and our house with it!
In winter I sometimes rode with Daddy on the Ford tractor to feed the cows ensilage, which at first I thought was stinky, but the smell grew on me and I learned to like it.
While we were living there, Glen had house movers pull the old house we lived in across the road so his son, Kenneth, could start building a new home for himself on the property. What an exciting day that was!
Mother decided I should start doing the dishes while she was at work all day, and that's when I began listening to WHB radio and discovering music. It would have been 1955, because I looked up the hits of that year and saw every song listed that I listened to back then. Speaking of washing the dishes, there was no running water in our house, so we had to heat up water for dishwashing in a tea kettle. And yes, we had an outhouse.
When Kenneth started working on the house he was building across the road, he often brought his son Billy. He and I dug around and made caves and roads in the mountain of dirt excavated for the basement of the new house.
Mother worked at the North Cafe in Eagleville during this time, too; I don't know which job came first, that one or Vanzant's. I have a very clear memory of "Rock Around the Clock" playing on the juke box there when I'd spend Saturday nights waiting for my mom to get off work after working the late shift.
I've had what I consider a charmed and happy life, but I've never, before or since, been that happy. There was something about that period that just seemed as though everything was right and I was where I belonged.
And then we moved to Kansas City and my heart was broken.