Elizabeth and I walked up from the creek carrying five or six perch we had
caught. We wanted to build a fire and cook them right then. I don’t actually
recall whether we did or not, but I do recall something that happened as we
stood in the back yard laughing and talking about it.
Our mothers teased us about our “big” catch and laughed at the idea of
frying them in the middle of that hot August afternoon. Suddenly, Mom said,
“Stop! Listen.” We did. “There’s an echo from that hill over there by the
barn.” She put her hands up to her mouth and shouted a high pitched
The reply came back immediately, in perfect timing: “Aaw-Hee-Haw!” That
“echo” was the voice of a big old Missouri mule!
Long before I was a granny, I began to write a once-in-a-while diary about
farm, church, cows, mud, roads, coyotes and other things, hurriedly typing
incidents on coarse yellow paper. In the 1930s while at MU, I beat out short
items on an old Underwood typewriter in J.H. Neff Hall. Later, I discovered
that my grandboys wanted me to “tell about the olden days” instead of
reading a story at bedtime.
For example, I told them about my father’s dairy business and his Model T
truck with this sign on its side:
O.D. Meyers Dairy
Clean Milk, Fresh From My Own Cows
That “clean milk” sold for 8 cents a quart and was delivered cold, in a
glass bottle, to Columbia’s front porches before breakfast. A gallon cost only
a quarter! My brother Jim and I worked in the dairy after school. We were paid
25 cents a week. That taught us two important lessons: that good work is
rewarded and that nothing is free.
Allowances were unknown. We picked wild gooseberries and blackberries to sell
for spending money. I sold black walnuts and cedar Christmas trees all through
Few grade school kids had enough money for a bank account, but I maintained a
balance of about $30. I felt pretty important the day I wrote my first check:
$5 for a brand new basketball.
My first beau drove a cute red and yellow Model T Ford roadster, and it had a
flat tire about every 20 miles. My second boyfriend drove an old Pontiac
truck. He had to replace the drive shaft monthly. He was a student in
engineering at MU.
I married the fellow with the Pontiac truck. Walter “Chub” Gerard, and we
have had 56 good years together. We live on our 160-acre farm, where our two
children, Nancy and Walt, grew to maturity.
These memories bound out of the past like echoes bouncing from a hill.
Sue Gerard is a Columbia artist, writer and grandmother.
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