Peggy Sanders: Confluence Chronicles – Where City & County Meet 3-21-11
When we were kids we played – hard – outside all day. We didn’t know about “exercise,” we just had fun. We played Cops and Robbers, Cowboys and Indians, Hide and Seek, we rode horses bareback and drove a go-cart. We occasionally got wounded but we weren’t banned by our parents from sledding on good hills. We didn’t wear helmets. Seatbelts were barely heard of.
But we also had to go through chicken pox, mumps, measles and rubella. The Salk polio vaccine came out in April 1955, when I was 3-years-old. I was lucky and didn’t contract the dread disease, neither did anyone in my family. Because the West River Children’s Polio Hospital was near us, I did know about the malady. Looking back it must have been a wonderful relief for my parents when the inoculations were made available to everyone.
A favorite past time was playing in our tree house. It was basically a few boards laid flat in the wide trunk of a tree. We had to swing on a rope to enter the house, no ladders were involved. It was a hide away, not far from the ranch house, but down a hill and secluded enough to make it feel extra special. I looked for the tree recently and didn’t find it. There are several old ones that are down and I imagine one of them is that tree.
Our horse wrecks weren’t very severe. I specifically remember three. The first one was when my brother and I were riding double, bareback, and we both fell off. He had a pocket full of marbles and he landed on me. I had odd shaped bruises in several spots. I was riding with this same brother – two saddled horses this time – and for whatever reason, I ended up in a pile of cactus. The parents weren’t home so when we got back to the house and the brother was pulling out the long spines with a pair of pliers alternating with tweezers on the smaller bristles. Since my hands were busy and I couldn’t get to a tissue, I sniffed. He panicked as the thought I was crying, but the process just made my nose run. It was a tender moment when this big brother was so concerned.
The most difficult part of the horses for me was saddling up. I was short, the horses were not and the saddles were heavy for me. It was quite a feat when I was by myself to get ready to ride. Then there was the problem of catching the mounts. Sometimes they were just not very nice. My brother told me if I started, I had to persevere so the horses wouldn’t “win.” I never did like to catch a horse since the ones we had were not eager to be caught and I suppose were not well taught. All I know is when I see a horse in the pasture now, I cringe, recalling those days.
Peggy writes from the family ranch in South Dakota. Her internet latchstring is out through Peggy@PeggySanders.com.