July Evening in 1940


A JULY EVENING (1940)

Sometimes after supper, the neighborhood children would congregate in our yard. If it were only Rudy and me, we would throw corn cobs at the bats circling over and around the corn crib. We had sold most of the corn in the spring. This was corn that was used to feed the seven thousand chickens we raised for the broiler industry. By now there were thousands of corn weevils in and around the corn. Twenty-five to fifty bats would be feasting on the weevils and any other bug that got in their way.
There was no chance of us hitting a bat. The bats would follow the corn cob up and then swerve down after the cob. Where the bats were during the day was a total mystery.
If Hilda or Ruth came, we would play “red-light green-light”, “Simon says”, “Mother may I” or some other simple game. We would play until dark. Then it was chase lightning bugs. Before pesticides and herbicides, fire flies were in the yard by the hundreds.
Bob-whites would be calling. They would usually be close by feeding in the rows of corn. Whip-poor-wills would be singing. They lived along the edge of the woods. Hoot owls would be deeper into the forest. Each owl hooting to mark his or her territory. Sometimes, late at night, a screech owl would call from a tree in our yard right outside our bedroom windows.
If most of the neighboring children came, we would play “Hit the Ricket.” Actually, it was hit the tin-can. It is a variation of hide and seek. A tin-can was placed on a brickbat. A brickbat being a broken brick. It was like home plate in baseball and was called home. The game started by someone hitting the tin-can with a bat. The person who was “it’ ran after the can while everyone ran like mad and hid.
The “it” person started searching for the others. He didn’t have to tag anyone, just see them.
After seeing someone, the “it” person ran back to home and touched the tin-can. Those caught were out of the game for the time being. The “it” person couldn’t go too far away from the tin-can. If he did, someone could run to the brickbat, pick up the bat, and hit the tin-can. This would free all the caught children. He had to catch everyone to get out of being “it.”
It was a hard job for the younger children like Rudy and me. Luckily darkness would come quickly. Everyone would go home before it was completely dark. A flashlight was a treasure that no one had. Dad had the only one at our home. A large five cell flashlight that he used to check on the chickens late at night.
Afterwards, Lois and I would come in and go straight to bed. If it was an unbearable hot night, we would all sleep on the screened-in porch.
11/13/16 500 words.

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4 Responses to July Evening in 1940

  1. GISMONDI, BETH says:

    Sounds like some of things I did in the early 60’s, growing up in Parsonsburg!

    Still love the bob white’s, owls and frogs when I spend the night with my Mom. We do see bats flying at dusk, and some big red hooded woodpeckers too.

    Mosquitoes always……

    xoxo

    beth and cassie

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  2. Teresa Metz says:

    Great as always. I remember most of those game.We didn’t use the brickbat but everything else was good….as was dodge ball on our dirt road…

  3. Cassandra Lynch says:

    Love it.

  4. Carol Ann Ellis says:

    Hi Nelson,

    Just wanted you to know that Jean asked me to read your piece at the group meeting today, which I did. We all agreed that you definitely evoked the era and environment of those evenings. Although I’m not sure that people so much younger than you and I can really appreciate what this was like.

    Anyway, nice job. Just five of us today–Bill, me, Liz P., Jean X, and a relative newcomer–a young lady named Caroline who states her profession as a writer. (!)

    Looking forward to maybe a Christmas story?

    CA

    On Fri, Dec 2, 2016 at 9:19 AM, Taylorville Express wrote:

    > nel32 posted: “A JULY EVENING (1940) Sometimes after supper, the > neighborhood children would congregate in our yard. If it were only Rudy > and me, we would throw corn cobs at the bats circling over and around the > corn crib. We had sold most of the corn in the spring. Th” >

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