The Farm Chronicles: Boots on the ground

The nearest biggest town, Ravenna, Ohio, was some 16 miles from the farm. We didn’t run to town very often. Dad and Mom would go into town on Friday’s to get feed for the livestock, groceries and necessities, and then we would often get a bite to eat at East Park Restaurant. Now, East Park was a landmark. It was across from The Town Pump, which was an old bar. East Park was divided into two sections—one where there was a bar and the other was a restaurant. Of course, you could eat at the tables in the bar section, but Mom would only do that if the place was crowded. She preferred the more “cultured” side hidden from the bar. East Park was essentially the classiest restaurant in town—and the only one.

Dad would sometimes drop off Mom and I downtown while he went to the feed mill to get grain for the horses and cattle. We would do some shopping and meet him at a prescribed place and time—usually across from the courthouse in about an hour. Mom would always want to go to Skorman’s Miracle Mart. Skorman’s was a true forerunner to WalMart. It had everything. As you entered the store, there was men’s and women’s clothing. Down the steps was various hardware goods—everything from fishing gear to Army surplus. It was like entering a wonderland of stuff. And it was cheap. When you bought something there, you would get tickets. 75 of the tickets were good for 50 cents in trade. Bonanza!!!

So I could expect to get something cool when we went there. This time, I had to get something practical. Rubber barn boots. I was pretty smallish at seven years old. And most of the barn boots were for bigger guys. But Mom always figured she could buy me things a little big and I would grow into them. So we got the boots that were the closest fit. They were huge and almost went up to my knees! I was so proud of them that I wanted to wear them home. Mom resisted because we were going out to eat at East Park, and wearing barn boots was not appropriate. But I whined until I talked her into it. She said OK on the condition that I wore my jeans over the boots and kept my boots on the ground.

So we stretched my jeans legs over them so they were not noticeable. We got our table. It was in the middle of where the bar area and the eating area converged—a lot of people there. Waiting for my Paul Bunyan burger and coke, I was leaning back in my chair and WHAM, I tumbled over backwards, barn boots in their full glory straight up in the air. Everyone saw it. Mom was mortified enough to put her eyebrows in permanent surprise mode, as she said, “Oh Bill, what have you done?!” Dad just smiled and picked me up off the floor. That event gave new meaning to Christ’s words in Mark 4:22, “For there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed.” For years, this story was repeated as it became legend. Mom was always embarrassed. Dad always laughed.

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Bill Wilson