As a senior I was ready to move on to the next phase of my life. We were still teens, though, with teen ways. The group I ran with that year came up with crazy names for one another. My friend, Glenda, was “Skanky” and she called me “Jackson.” “Woman” was a tag used by some guys for their girls.
Mom gave me a portable sewing machine for my high school graduation. She’d entered a contest and unscrambled sewing words for a considerable discount, then made monthly payments. Dad’s gift was a Lane cedar chest from Gambles in Norfolk.
We held class parties at Baker’s Beach on the Elkhorn River the last day of school. I always got a sunburn, even on cloudy days. Grandpa Reikofski doused my back with vinegar.
Our class of 1966 was the first class to walk across the stage in the new gymnasium, Elmer Lindahl Gym. The alumni banquet that followed a few days later was a night when I wanted to crawl into a hole. Dad was always late, I suppose at that time of the year the fieldwork had something to do with it. That night we were so late that I was unable to sit with my honored class.
Though barely seventeen, that early summer of 1966, I was on my own and ready to fly. A couple of nights I stayed out all night long, and lied to my grandparents, whom I stayed with. I said I’d spent the night with a friend. How dense did I think they were? My boyfriend, who was a man while I was still a girl, had picked me up the night before, and driven me back the next morning. My reputation must have gathered a bit of tarnish. One thing those nights taught me was that I couldn’t hold much alcohol, and how I regretted throwing up out the window of the ‘57 Chevy that I spent a lot of time in.
The summer after graduation I was employed at the bank—a job I wasn’t mature enough to handle—and which I lost in August. Too many overtime hours were spent because my window didn’t balance, and all employees stayed until it did balance. I have no idea what the problems were, I know I didn’t steal any of it! To this day, I try to avoid numbers.
One of Dad’s trips to the Grand Island hospital took place that July, where he was treated for pain. It was farrowing time on the farm. We must have had too many sows for the hog shed because Dad expected my brother Gaylen to use the lean-to, or garage, attached to the west side of the barn. For the comfort and success of keeping the pigs, the floor needed to be cemented.
Gaylen at age fifteen, sought Dad’s counsel through a letter and said it’s okay to share:
Dear Dad, how’s your loafin’ days? I haven’t wrote to you sooner but I’ve been too busy horsin’ around. The “60” is low on oil, do you think I should add to it or maybe the oil needs to be changed? The calves in the pasture are really growing.
We’re trying to figure out how many sows there are. Are there 47 sows or 47 with the boars? We had 30 in the sheds and I think 14 down at the place when they had pigs. Those pigs are really satisfied up in the trees. It is a good set-up. The water-er-er-er-er works like a dream when we sell the last ten butchers I was thinking of giving them another self-feeder and my twelve pigs the other. You wouldn’t know my dozen little pigs, they’re about ready for market. The 30 pigs over west are going to be ready for market before long. Of course, half of them are mine. How many of them do you want? You can have the smallest ones. Ha! Ha! It sounds like I’m kind of taking over.
Are we supposed to cut a hole in the garage? We had a guy look and he didn’t think the wall could hold the pressure. If it hadn’t been for Loree’s boyfriend, it wouldn’t have ever been cemented in time. Man, he sure knows how to lay cement. We laid it in an hour and a half. Between the heat and him working so fast, he nearly collapsed. It was so hot in there it was like we had been swimming in our clothes. That guy worked like nobody I’ve ever seen.
I hope you’re enjoying your vacation. It’s the third one you’ve taken in the last two years. How do you like all the pretty nurses? I suppose you’re really having fun. If you get home one of these days maybe we can go fishin’. Your little laddie.
Since we were the oldest, we grew out of childhood at early ages.