The Farm Chronicles: Wooden shoes and friendship

It was the spring of 1967 and the grass at the farm was starting to green up. There were still gentle winds blowing through the Northeastern Ohio woods and fields, but they were warmer winds. Summer was on its way, brief as it would be. My buddy, Sonny, and I had made our first few trips to the woods, pioneers that we were. We checked in on the fort to see how it weathered the winter. The fort was a mighty log structure that we built beneath an old beechnut tree that probably still has our initials carved in it. We spent all day building that fort, falling mighty timbers and notching them to fit together. The roof was some old tin, probably blown off from a barn. That mighty fort had wintered well—all three feet high of it.

The battery in the old fallen tree had made it through the winter, too. There was this huge fallen tree not far down the path from the fort. Sonny and I took these barrels, filled them with rocks and rolled them out on a couple of the branches. They were strategically placed in case of any bad guys, or wolves tried to get us. Of course, there were no wolves in that part of Ohio, but we were prepared if ever they came. Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett had nothing on us. On down the path a little further was the creek. We would often make little river boats out of scrap wood with the back cut out to put a paddle wound by a rubber band. We dropped them in the creek and guided them with sticks downstream for hours. Sometimes the creek was too shallow so we had to pick them up and move them across. After all, we did live in Portage County.

Mom and Dad had decided to take a couple of days during Easter break to go visit Holland, Michigan. They had asked Sonny’s parents if he could go along. We were so excited that we were going to travel together. We really didn’t care about going to Michigan—we were Buckeyes all the way. But it was a chance to take another adventure. On the way there, we got into this thing of using our plastic straws for shooting paper wads instead of drinking soda. We would wet up some Kleenex, load it into the straw and blow it out—kind of like the Pygmies. It didn’t go over so well when we shot the officer inside the toll booth, but we got away with it. Dad was smacking the back of his head a few times, but was having fun with it. Mom wanted nothing of it and was ordering us to quit—which made us even more sneaky about it.

Holland, MI., was OK. There were tulips in bloom everywhere. There were windmills. And the best part was they sold wooden shoes with our names burnt into them. Sonny and I walked in those wooden shoes all day. Clunk, clunk, clunk everywhere we went. We walked up and down the hotel hallway at night before we went to bed. First thing in the morning we were Clunking down that same hallway. I’m sure people were annoyed, but we were having fun in our wooden shoes from Holland, until our feet were so sore we could hardly walk. Proverbs 18:24 says, “A man that has friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.” That is my friend Sonny. I have often called him my brother, but it’s true, he is closer than a brother. I hope you have a friend like Sonny, wooden shoes, spit wads and all.

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Bill Wilson