Moms and Mom Stand-Ins

Miss Oneia Gahr, was as close to being my substitute mom as anyone.  My great-grandmother was her father’s sister.  She was mother’s best friend, attended the same college–earned a teaching degree.

Their personalities were exact opposites.  My mother was quiet and reserved, Oneia was outgoing and plain-spoken.  Mom taught fourth-grade elementary, Oneia, high school mathematics.  Miss Gahr was a strict disciplinarian at home, and no doubt, the same at school.

Several summers were spent working on Miss Gahr’s dairy farm.  As an adolescent, it seemed like pure drudgery.  Who knew dairy cows didn’t like their mornings interrupted?  “Talk to them gently, in a low voice, or they might kick you.”

That didn’t mean to act goofy and crazy, “Hey girls what’s happening this morning?” But, rather to be gentle, not boisterous.  It worked, and I never got kicked.  It did nothing, however, to stop swats from muddy cow’s tails.  To them, I was just another fly that needed swatting.

Whatever needed to be done–she worked as hard as any man around the farm.  She cut me no slack when it came to cleaning the dairy barn.  And, oh that cattle waste–tons of it, had to be hosed away.

Miss Oneia went at life full tilt.  Driving was no exception.  She liked flashy land yachts.  Had a slew of Pontiac Bonneville convertibles in the sixties.  Before that, she had a fifties-era, Ford hardtop convertible.

Riding with her in the old rattletrap Chevy pickup over farm roads was a neck-snapping thrill ride.  Nothing topped the day the wiring in the Ford two-ton grain truck  caught fire under the dashboard.  Acrid smoke filled the cab as the insulation burned.  Miss Oneia grabbed a hay bale hook, yanked out wires till the smoke subsided.

We always considered her part of the family, not just a distant relative.  All three of us boys raised bottle calves that she donated.  My sister raised a white pig.  She tutored me in Math and Geometry.  Happy Mom’s Day to both my mom, and my substitute mom!

 

 

 

99 Word #prompt #flashfiction: Traded

The specially designed wooden crate, held twelve-dozen eggs.  A weeks worth of egg laying.

It was hot in the car, all the windows were rolled down.  Al’s AG Market, with the lighted yellow disc on the canopy, had been there a long time.

“The best I can offer is 20 cents a dozen,” Said Al.

“That’s not very much,” She answered.  “They’ve always given me 30 cents at Midvale.”

“That’s my best offer–take it or leave it.  People here don’t like brown eggs.”

She accepted.  Grocery money would be a little short this week.  Eggs wouldn’t keep forever.

“FIERY FARTS OF THE WICKED”

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A Bible verse that was often parodied by wiseacres, symbolized the plight of two adolescent boys; and a day packed with extreme emotional highs and lows.

We were too big to cry–but not for pouting.  “Just wait till I grow up–I’ll show him,” Said my little brother.  “I’m going to be bigger and stronger.’

I internalized my dissatisfaction.  I’m going to do this if it kills me.  If I get stepped on by a cow and get killed–then he’ll be sorry.

Dad’s words stung worse than the whipping we got with switches from a front yard tree.  For what it’s worth–it was a Kentucky coffee tree.

“I told you two, to go down to the barn, bed down the cattle, and have it done before I got back.  You guys deliberately disobeyed me.  Go cut me some switches.  Don’t get little ones either!  I’m going to teach you a lesson you won’t soon forget.”

Dad was a delegate to church conference, in a town two hours away.  It lasted all day.  My brother and I decided to blow dad off.  Our priorities were elsewhere.  After all, he wouldn’t be home till after dark.  What were the chances he’d go to the barn and check?

The tension built.  Dad’s car was in the drive.  That meant he was home.  Where was he?  He knew us better than we realized.  The jig was up.

“For disobeying, you guys are going down to the barn in the dark, and do what you were supposed to have done in the first place.  Take these two flashlights–and do the job right!  I’ll be checking your work.”

Surprisingly, the flashlights provided enough light to work.  One of us climbed into the loft, tossed down bales of straw. Then we cut baling wire ties and spread the straw.

Some of the cattle were lying down–others were standing.  They milled around after being awakened.  We worked around them.  Some cows expelled gas as they stood, in explosions of flatulence.  Then more, still more in a symphony of flatulence.

One of us mock directed Johann Strauss waltzes to flatulent accompaniment.  It was hilarious.  We laughed uncontrollably. The night’s misery was broken; not just broken–shattered to pieces.  Nobody could ever know the tale of two disobedient boys and, “The Fiery Farts of Wicked Bovine.”