My mom and dad were very different during my youth. Back then most families had four to five children. My folks only had me. Some of my friends said that when I was born my folks didn’t want any more.
All the kids on my block learned early how to ride a bicycle early. That is, they tried. There is the old Illinois & Michigan Canal right behind our house with an old wooden footbridge over it. We used to start across the bridge with our bicycles all together. Remember the saying “last one over is a rotten egg.” Well, nobody wanted to be a rotten egg so we all raced to the top.
One of the younger kids didn’t make it. In his attempt to reach the top he ran out of steam. He then stayed on his bike while it went backwards and ended up in the canal. He screamed loud enough to bring his mother out of the house. "You aren't hurt," she said. "I saw you move. Clean yourself off and get in the house."
We were fascinated with knives back then. I remember getting one for Christmas. Mom told dad, "He is going to cut himself for sure." Dad said, "Yep, that’s why they make Band-Aids."
One day Dad built us a tire swing. It always was customary for about eight kids to climb up and ride on that tire swing. Mom always said, "They're going to get hurt doing that." We only had to get one of the eight stitched up from that tire swing.
I remember one time on the farm I was going to try parachuting. I took the old tractor umbrella and jumped off the corn crib with it. I wasn’t doing too badly until the darned thing turned inside out. I came down so fast it stung my feet terribly. My folks reminded me that big boys don’t cry.
I remember one day working a seminar at the Bedford Sales Facility in Morris. A young woman approached me. "Can I speak to you?" she asked with a tear in her eye. Certainly I said.
"That’s my son," she said, pointing at a little guy crying while holding onto his dad's leg. "His grandfather just died," she explained. "He said you look exactly like him." By that time everyone was very quiet. I was very touched.
I went over to the little lad and explained to him that it was OK while I gave him a hug. He seemed to calm down after that and probably thought that I indeed was a grandpa, too. His mom continued to tell him the big boys don’t cry story.
• According to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources the deer harvest is down for the first three days of 2017. I don’t know what caused the decline but many have had some theories.
A lot of hunters think the culling operation to control Chronic Wasting Disease was the cause. I personally don’t have a clue. I do know that the weather during the two day following opening day was very wet. Many hunters stayed out of the woods during those days.
- FRED KRAUSE, of Marseilles, can be reached by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.