My parents decided to drop out of the "rat race" back in '76, leaving their nice life on the North Shore of Chicago for 500 acres in southwestern Missouri. They had four kids, a sheepdog named Daisy, a pop-up camper and a firm belief that they were doing the "right thing." I was three years old when we moved and my first memory of the dairy farm was my fourth birthday party. Because of my ongoing love affair with cake, surprisingly, I can't remember what or if I had one, but I do remember that I got a set of jacks and a paddleball and I thought they were the coolest things ever. I remember carrying them around with me in a brown paper bag because I was afraid my sisters would steal them or mess them with them in some way. We didn't have a lot of personal space as we lived in the pop-up camper, but I thought it was all very exciting because I finally not only got to sleep with someone every night, I had to (more importantly someone had to sleep with me)! Everyone was working hard to get the shack that existed on the property into working order for us to move into before the snow started to fly. I don't actually remember working very hard, I was only four, after all, but I do remember staying glued to my daddy where ever he went. I remember going to the vet's with him and getting very embarrassed when I realized I was hanging onto the vet's leg and not my dad's. I remember getting in HUGE trouble when, after Dad said no to a gumball from the machine at the feed store, I went back to the machine when he was busy with the salesperson and begged pitifully from strangers until I got one. :) I remember riding around the farm with him on the tractor, usually perched on the rim over one of the rear tires, but on special occasions he would let me ride in the bucket and he would raise it up super high and then lower it down, within inches from the ground that was racing by, until I squealed and laughed. I remember the dog ate my favorite stuffed hippo and I cried when I found its stuffing spread across the lawn.
only heat source for the house) that ran through the middle of the room. I remember waking up and running to the chimney to plaster myself against it while I got dressed.
I found a couple pictures of the old house and one of me from when I was four or five, I can't tell. It was taken of me (center of the photo) and my cousin, the little guy in the red overalls, as we were riding on a 4th of July parade float for 4-H; it was promoting milk, naturally. I was on the "wholesome kids" milk float, my sisters rode on the "nasty kids" float that featured skeevy youth, with blacked-out teeth, drinking coca-colas!
Ah, the dairy life!! It was an idyllic childhood, spending lots of quality time with family, animals, the land, and lots and lots of books. I truly got the best of both worlds when my educated, middle-class parents decided that their kids should grow up without all the bourgeois trappings that they had the foresight to see were becoming the mainstays of a materialistic life in the suburbs. They wanted us to know that life isn't about what you wear or what you drove, but who you are and what you can do with your talent and brains. I feel like my husband and I are at this crossroads with our kids now and I wonder how my parents ever came up with the strength to walk away from it all....