Childhood memories are made of snapshots…
Pulling up a sound….
Back in the fifties (nineteen, not eighteen), we owned forty acres of land, most of it fields and woods that bordered the railroad tracks. Nothing back there but curious kids looking to smash puffballs in the woods or find pollywogs in the wet place.
But, every year, for a period of a couple of months, Wil Chambers and his son Skip drove a truck full of horses up our driveway and unloaded them at the fence gate.
And the sound of this truck was so recognizable, so clack, bang, booom!, that I knew, sitting in the kitchen, that the horses were coming well before I saw the truck. And we would jump with excitement.
Had to run down to the fence and watch Wil and Skip unload the horses. Now sleek, toned thoroughbreds these were not. Had no idea what their ‘day job’ was, but these guys had seen better times. But they looked happy.
First, a word about Wil. The Marlboro man had nothing on this guy. Perfectly ‘cowboy’ attired at all times, cowboy hat, gorgeous boots, handsome weather lined face, and as friendly as a man could be.
Son Skip reminded me of Hoss Cartwright, handsome, strong, big man…also very friendly.
The horses moved off the truck in the only speed they ever displayed, extra slow, and immediately headed for the salt lick that Wil had set up the week before. They then would move about grazing on the property.
We would step inside the fence and went about the business of petting and hugging all the horses. And all of the horses had names, but the one I most remember was ‘Checkers’. Checkers was the favorite for all of us.
At this point something was missing. And that was sugar cubes!
Ran up to the kitchen and attacked Mom….”You gotta buy sugar cubes!”
And she would, often the same day.
However long these horses lived, I think you could have easily added twenty years if they had not become diabetic, and the reason they were diabetic was because we fed them pyramid sized piles of sugar cubes!
And Checkers NEVER SAID NO to a sugar cube.
It was two months of the most intense childhood joy.
And when friends visited, the first thing they wanted to do was spend quality time with Checkers and the crew.
And in case you are wondering, we never attempted to climb up for a horse back ride…I don’t think their spinal columns were up for the task.
Because this was the nineteen fifties, Dad refused to take any money for the keeping of the horses. No one in Montgomery would have. But Wil found a way around that.
Every year he would drop off a huge turkey at Thanksgiving and Christmas time. A form of payment that I still find to be an unexplainably wonderful way of expressing thanks.
Sad day when Wil and Skip came to pick up the horses at the end of the season. Even the dogs looked sad. On that day, the sound of the clack..bang…boom! truck brought sadness instead of joy.
Sometimes the clack..bang..boom! truck brings happiness coming in, but sorrow going out.
A metaphor for my love life?
Of course, Wil is long gone, but Skip is still alive and operating a thriving business. In front of Skip’s business, an array of old tractors are arranged in a line along the road.
One of the tractors is my dad’s old Ferguson.
So the connection lives on.