Thursday Afternoon


I looked out my office window and realized that the skies decided to open up and let some water fall from the sky. I’m more than happy to take it and let it water my lawn and my garden. I can only hope it continues because I really need to fill my rain barrels and I’m going to hate to see my next water bill.

But it takes me back to another day and another time when I was a kid growing up in southern Iowa. We had some awfully dry summers in the late 1960’s. My two oldest brothers were off in the military and doing their thing. My oldest sister, the Troll, was either babysitting or looking for a job. My older brother was … well, he was just one of those that liked to force his will over others that were smaller than he. Do you remember that phrase “I’m gonna pound you.”? I think he and his friends invented it since they liked to smack around and boss around the little kids. That left my youngest brother to hang out with since my little sister was viewed as being a pain in the neck to have around. She was the “baby” and was overly spoiled by Dad.

Those summers were long and hot and extremely dry. The last time that it rained was before Memorial Day and everyone’s lawn had turned brown and gardens were trying to shrivel up and would have if it weren’t for the neighbor ladies using their water hoses them down or filling their water cans from a well. The area farmers weren’t so lucky and neither were the dirt roads around town. Cars and trucks would use the dirt road down the street from us and they would just raise a cloud of light brown dust that would just cover everything. Momma hated it because a cloud of dust would eventually make it down the street making its way inside the house.

We spent nights sleeping on the floor because laying in bed was just too hot. The windows would be open and we’d turn the box fan around in the window hoping to pull in some of the cooler night air until Momma found out what we did. Then we’d have to turn it back around so it would push the hot air out of the house cuz Momma said that’s what it would do. Eventually we would just give up and take some blankets outside and spread them on the ground thinking at least that it was cooler out there than it was inside. What was the choice? Trying to sleep in a hot house or risk being bitten by a hunderty billionty mosquitoes. We chose the bugs. This of course was before “Skin So Soft” was invented.

We could have sworn that we heard the corn stalks drying in the hot summer nights. Farmers and especially farm wives would worry away the day wondering when it was going to rain. They always kept their ears close the the radio for the noon weather report or watched the TV for the local news each night. The news would always tell about how dire the crops were getting or how many hogs were estimated to have overheated and died under the hot Iowa summer sun. The ground cracked as the sun beat down upon it. Churches would hold special services to pray for rain.

And finally it would come down like manna from heaven.