Our farm, about 12 miles east of Columbia was taking shape quite well in 1952, and we rented our little rock house near Columbia to a young couple for the summer.
The man was to add native stone veneer to the work that Chub and I had started, and extra stones were piled there for his use. We had fallen in love with country life, and there was more than a mile of roadside brush to be cut and burned.
It was hard to imagine a school bus getting down Vemer’s Ford Road in a couple of years! We didn’t call the county road crews, but they arrived with machinery and went to work.
Clearing one side of the road would be sufficient. The University of Missouri-Columbia owned part of that brush, so its crews cleared the north side. A banker owned a stretch, and he called a crew and put them to work.
Dad and Chub had cleared our front fence, leaving 12 young walnut trees and one half-grown wild cherry. The owners beyond our driveway would profit by a year-round passable road, so they also went to work on their part of the brush. This helped when Columbia telephone lines were put in four years later!
We were not ready to move to the farm but stayed all of the terribly dry 1952 summer. Forget corn. Forget even the temporary pit silo of the year before. The corn leaves rattled, and there was just no moisture. We returned to the little rock house.
Unexpectedly, a vacancy occurred in the Christian College Physical Education Department - not in swimming, but in team sports. I took the job, hoping to have a later chance at the pool. When I met the swimming teacher, she was expecting a baby in four months!
After semester break, I was back on the old schedule I loved: teaching swimming, lifesaving and recreational leadership. My good friend, who had a daughter Nancy’s age, also was keeping a little girl who was Walt’s age. I picked up our kindergarten girls and took them to her each noon. It was an ideal arrangement. I had also resumed freelance writing.
The living room addition we were planning for later would be shaded by the huge, old mulberry tree. We added more rose bushes, and I replanted a redbud tree from the roadside, moving it in the winter.
When Chub’s Aunt Louise from Los Angeles came to see our farm, she stood facing a great view where our nine-panel picture window would later be. Imagine our surprise when she finally said, "When you do finally get here, it’s not so bad!"
While the kids took afternoon naps, I set out rose bushes and planted hollyhocks, which would come back year after year. Chub made a trellis for the red climbing roses near the only door in our long, narrow cottage. I painted the privy white, inside and out. I had brought my electric typewriter from home and several electric fans so that I could write indoors during the very hottest days of summer.
One creek bottom field of the farm had rich soil but was unusable because a deep snake-like ditch cut back and forth through it; no farm equipment could plow it, plant it or harvest what little it did produce. Dad eyeballed that and said to the driver: "Tell you what, if you can move that creek for a thousand dollars, I’ll make you a check."
"If you can’t pay me, I’ll have the satisfaction of knowing I’ve given you 14 good acres that might have just gotten worse," the man replied.
None of us passes this 14-acre bottom flat without remembering that wonderful soil surgeon, O.D. Meyers, and yes, we gladly paid him back.