Earth Angel Rescue – 1947

Scan-6I’ve been scanning old photos this weekend and this photo triggered a flood of memories. I’m about seven here, heading into second grade in the fall. Our yard is fenced; see the gate at the edge on the left. There is no fence separating the pasture from the driveway and there is livestock grazing in the distance. Looking to the north, there was a fence separating the pasture from the distant field. This sets the scene for my first memory of an Earth angel.

I’ve never known how it happened. Mama was very watchful and but that day something must have distracted her when it was time for the school bus to bring me home. I think she usually met me at the gate at the end of the driveway, about a quarter mile from our house. But this day, I got off the bus and she wasn’t there. So, I crawled through the barbed wire and headed home.

Way in the distance, a horse raised his head and looked toward me. He took off on a gallop as thought he’d been spooked, making a beeline for me. I knew he was danger on four hoofs. So, I hid behind a mesquite bush that was little taller than me and offered no protection. There was nothing else around and the horse was closing in.

The next thing I knew, there as a large high-school boy by my side. The horse had been diverted, and I was safe.

Here’s the rest of the story:

Daddy hired a couple of high-school boys to help him with the plowing.  As I remember, my Earth angel was Hilbert Hammock. He was plowing the cotton field across the pasture to the east of the house. He was about a quarter mile from the house, and ready to make the turn. I guess he saw me about the time he spotted that horse. Somehow, he stopped the tractor, jumped off, hurdled the barbed wire fence that kept the livestock out of the cotton field, and reached me in time.

Mama saw it all from the house. She told me how frightened she was as she watched me hide in that small bush as the horse galloped toward me. There was nothing she could do but pray. I’m sure she did. Then Hilbert jumped off the tractor and no one knew he could run so fast. But I’m sure God whispered in his ear and gave him the strength he needed as my mother watched as an Earth angel rescue her child.

As for me, I couldn’t imagine that many, many years later, I would be an author writing stories woven around people who are in the right place, at the right time, willing to help someone in trouble. They’re God’s boots on the ground and I call them Earth angels.

Happy Fourth of July!

Fourth of July

It’s the Fourth of July weekend and we don’t have any plans. During the drought, our city cancelled the fireworks display and it hasn’t been reinstated. So we won’t be seeing fireworks from our backyard again this year, but I’m thinking of the happy celebration of Independence Day when I was a kid.

A Carnival came to my hometown, and we celebrated the Fourth in the park. I rode the Ferris wheel and merry-go-round. There were the usual carnival booths with food and games, but I don’t remember much about them. The merry-go-round was my favorite back then, and I still love it. And the swimming pool was open. It was a fun time!

Besides the celebration in the park on the Fourth, Daddy always brought in a brown paper bag filled with sparklers, Roman candles, and firecrackers… and a big watermelon. I still remember Daddy lighting the Roman candles in the front yard and then running to safe place to watch the blast off. Sometimes it only spewed a few sparks on the ground and then fizzled out… After the bag was emptied, Daddy cut the big watermelon in half lengthwise. We all got a spoon and dug in, Daddy, Mamma, and me…  We ate the heart first and then went for the seedy part… I got in trouble for spitting the seeds back in the watermelon… I know… Ewww… (I was little.)

By the time I started school, the Fourth of July celebration in the park was cancelled due to polio. The epidemic scared everyone. No one knew what caused the dreaded disease. All we knew was that it was highly contagious, crippling, and sometimes fatal. Back then, parents faced each summer with fear. I remember pictures of polio patients in iron lungs, and recovering children in leg braces and crutches. It was frightening for everyone. Fear took away the summer fun. The pool was closed and the carnival was cancelled. We celebrated at home with fireworks and watermelon… and I learned a better way to deal with the seeds.

Years later, after I was married and had small children, we were among the first to stand in line to get a sugar cube laced with the polio vaccine. Thanks to Jonas Salk, the fear of polio was gone and the Fourth of July celebration in my hometown came back but I had moved away. I saw a message on Facebook about big plans for the Fourth of July celebration in the park this year…

Happy Fourth to everyone – Those of us who have memories and those who are making them.