Walking Home From School Gang
If the farmer, between the one-room Fowler Country School near Pittsburg, Illinois, and our farm, warned me and my siblings once, he warned us many times—don’t cross the field taking in a shortcut when the bull is out!
That was a challenge to my youngest sister and a younger brother to take that short cut and get home three minutes sooner, which usually worked out. Well, this particular day, they both cut out under the fence—it was electric on the top strand—laughing and not watching, not even checking to see if that big Hereford bull was anywhere in the ten acres.
There was a small rise to the north. He hid, rather, he chose that spot to graze a while, it being a warm Spring-time afternoon and all, to pick to his heart’s content. There were no cows in there at that time to distract him, or to be protected. The pasture appeared empty.
This brave pair struck out to stroll across a stretch probably about one acre wide in space, to save maybe three minutes, but when they were about half-way, they suddenly heard a snort and hoof beats!
“Here he comes!” one of them shouted, and they both started running. My brother fell! He was down on hands and knees and my little sister was running as fast as two short legs would go toward the fence in front of the neighbor’s house.
Before she could reach the barbed wire fence, probably four strands high, guess who, or what, came crawling by on all fours and out crawled her under the bottom strand! Brave Brother, that’s who!
“I never knew anybody could crawl that fast on hands and knees,” she said.
If that was the only problem, it would have been okay, they both made it, but they had yet to face the farmer, a stern-looking man in overalls and blue denim shirt, with a scowl on his face when he repeatedly told them to stay out of the field.
Did anyone learn a lesson? No!
The sister next to me, younger and braver than me, took a turn at the bull, knowing he was in the field. She boasted that she could outrun anything, and she was fairly right in that—except for the length of time it takes.
The nearest safety was back in the direction she started, from the road just west of the school. We didn’t laugh then, it was too dangerous. She made it by rolling under the fence on her belly! I wished I wasn’t the oldest sister to witness all this bravery.
Now, to the single strand electric fence enclosing another pasture—located to the east of the above-mentioned—owned by that same farmer. It was a favored game with my next-to-oldest brother, who owned the only bicycle in the family, to ask one of us to hold his bike while he did this or that, and we, well I remember that I, thinking it was to re-adjust his books, fell for it.
Of course, he was holding that top strand of electric fence and I couldn’t see that. Always the experimental type, he was. Where did the shock travel to when he conducted it through his body? To me! I can’t remember how I turned loose of the bike, and can’t remember ever learning any better. One thing he had in common with our Dad, pulling stunts and when he laughed, almost rolling on the ground. Yes, that’s the retired Army Chaplain, my big brother.
There’s plenty more school stories for another time.