This is the story of two little girls, a screen door, a knitting needle, and fly season on a hog farm a long, long, time ago…
A little over two weeks ago, my cousin Debbie passed away, leaving an ache in the hearts of those who loved her. I take comfort in my memories of our time together when we were kids, growing up like sisters. This is one of my earliest memories of us together.
I think it was the summer I turned four years old, but I may have been five. Aunt Sherry and Uncle Jack had moved their family from Nebraska to a farm near Mahaska, Kansas, and I was delivered there to spend a few weeks. I remember the big house and yard, and also walking a dirt/gravel road to Sunday School at a small country church. Barbie was the eldest child, and in charge of us getting there and back.
Anyway, one afternoon I awoke from my nap and found the house empty and quiet. I wandered around looking for any of the family, and finally found Debbie in the back entryway, sitting at the open door. There was a full screen door – one of the old wooden kind on a spring that creaked when it opened and banged when it closed.
Debbie was sitting on the floor in front of that screen door, methodically punching holes in the screen with a knitting needle. We chatted for a minute, and she invited me to have a try at the hole-poking. I questioned the wisdom of this activity, but Debbie assured me it was okay and lots of fun. I was hesitant because I really didn’t think it was a good idea, but she was confident that it was okay. She was older and she lived there and she was quite convincing, so, I took a stab at it, so to speak.
You know what? It was fun! Poking that needle through the screen and seeing a perfect round hole appear was almost like magic! I was hooked!Debbie ran and got a second knitting needle and we both sat there together and punched holes to our hearts’ delight.
I have no idea how long we did this, but we were running out of screen on the bottom section of the door when Aunt Sherry came walking up. One look at her face and I knew that this was definitely NOT okay. It was summertime on a hog farm. Fly season. We had just opened up the entire bottom half of the screen door.
Oh, Aunt Sherry was mad.
Debbie got spanked first. I remember telling Aunt Sherry that it wasn’t my fault, that Debbie had told me it was okay, and I really was innocent. Yeah, she didn’t care. I got spanked, too. Then we were sent to Debbie’s room.
My memory of this incident ends there, but I have always proclaimed my innocence. They just laughed at me over the years whenever I reminded them of the injustice of my being held liable along with Debbie for this crime.
Here are the three of us about 40 years later: