Reflecting on the tumbles of childhood

Published 8:30 am Saturday, August 13, 2022

I remember as a kid that summers seemed long and definitely had a different vibe—a different tempo.  There were hours of splashing around in the lake or the creek, listening to the great tunes of the 60s, riding bikes, and impromptu picnics in the yard.  The picnics were usually a part of working in the garden and Mom making sandwiches and usually Kool-Aid in jelly glasses as we took a break from hoeing in the garden, digging potatoes, or pulling corn and picking tomatoes while my dad was at work.  We canned a lot of vegetables and I had the job of washing the canning jars.  We didn’t have a dishwasher and Mom was very particular about sterile jars so in addition to my small hands and lots of soap, there was boiling water poured into the jars.  What a process!  I swore that when I grew up, I would not have any part of a garden or canning vegetables.  Well, that didn’t work out like I thought.  

When we moved to our new home on the corner of Woodson Ridge and Bay Springs Road, one of the first things that happened was a garden.  And I was once again canning vegetables, but this time I had a dishwasher to get the jars ready.  Our sons Dennis and Jeff were young, but they were a part of the garden and work that got done on our place.  Tom and I both worked full-time so we were a busy family, especially since Tom worked a second job on the weekends for many years.

One summer, it was time for some maintenance and updating the house.  I’m certain there was painting and one of the last things was having new carpet installed throughout our four-bedroom home.  By this time, Dennis was old enough to cut grass and we had a big yard, about two acres to mow and trim.  Jeff was into riding bikes but not quite old enough for the mower.  

When we first moved to Woodson Ridge, Bay Springs Road was a gravel road but well-travelled.  Lots of farm equipment and trucks moved on that road and that was the reason that Jeff was forbidden to ride his bike on the road which paralleled our property.  It was soon paved which meant that vehicles could travel faster, yet another concern.    

So, on the day of the new carpet installation, Dennis was out cutting grass and Jeff was riding his bike.  Tom and I were inside doing a bunch of different things around the house as the workers were laying the new carpet.  Unbeknownst to us, Jeff had decided to take his bike for a spin down Bay Springs Road.  On the return trip to the house, he spun out and planted in the asphalt.  Dennis was on the mower and couldn’t hear his cries for help at first, and it wasn’t until he turned the mower did he see his little brother all bloody.  He jumped off the mower, ran to Jeff, and scooped him up in his arms and headed for the house.  

When I heard the commotion—Dennis was doing a lot of yelling and Jeff was doing a lot of crying — I immediately saw the blood and our two distraught sons coming into the house.  And you can guess how alarmed I was.  Or not as you might guess.  You see, my alarm was that Jeff was going to bleed all over the newly-installed carpet, so I quickly screamed, “Carry him to the bathtub!  Don’t get blood on the carpet!”  I’d like to think that my initial response was mother’s intuition that the scrapes and cuts were not serious.  But to this day, I must be honest that I might have been a little too concerned about the new carpeting.  At any rate, after wrapping Jeff in a large towel, we were out the door to the Emergency Room where Dr. Bo Murry did a few fancy stitches to our boy’s brow and assured us that nothing was broken, only scratched and skinned.  So, summer can sometimes provide some unexpected occurrences.  And I had to come to terms that I was not going to win Mother of the Year.  Just be careful out there!

 

Bonnie Brown writes a weekly column for The Oxford Eagle. Contact her at bbrown@olemiss.edu.