Kaleidoscope Memories of Papa and Horses and Mules and Buggies and Wagons

Public domain photo of typical 1920s farmer

Feeding and watering and currying and shearing and doctoring and pulling cockleburs from the tails of horses and mules.

Bridling and harnessing rebellious and rearing and snorting and kicking horses and mules.

Driving a mule-drawn wagon to church on Sunday morning.

Driving a wagon or buggy to town for groceries and other family necessities.

Driving a wagon loaded with cotton to the gin.

Driving a wagon into the grain fields to be loaded with bundles and then tossing the handles into the thresher’s maw for the separation of the grain.

Walking beside the wagon through the cornfield in the hottest days of August, pulling and throwing the ears into the wagon, and later shoveling them out into the corncrib.

Driving a bale-loaded wagon from the hay baler to the barn and, with a block and tackle, hoisting the bales up into the hayloft.

Driving the running gear of a wagon to the timbers for a day of woodbutting, and driving home in the afternoon with a precisely stacked load of logs and limbs to be turned into firewood for heating and cooking.

Driving a wagon home from town with a limited load of coal, which was used as a wood substitute until we could again go into the timbers for another day of woodcutting.

Sitting in a wildly lurching-and-careening wagon, trying to control and calm the fear-fraught mules during the rather frequent occurrence of a child-terrorizing animal runaway.

Coming to meet me and carrying my sack of cotton when he saw me wearily lugging it toward the wagon.

Hastily stretching the wagon sheet over the ridgepole of the cotton wagon when the dark clouds rolled in and the rain began to fall.

Playing with us on the cotton inside the wagon until the rain stopped.

Soaking the dry and loose spokes and fellies of the wagon wheels to tighten them in their rims.

Driving a wagon to Island Creek for a few days of fishing with his sons, sometimes sleeping in the wagon and sometimes sleeping on the ground under the wagon.

Hurrying home in the empty cotton wagon, after the first bale had been ginned and sold, with steak and store-bought bread and fruit for our supper.

Hal Upchurch, 1995

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