To start the summer of my seventeenth year, I was very sick. After getting one doctor from Brandenburg, one doctor from Vine Grove and one doctor from Big Springs, their common diagnosis was milk fever caused by milk from cows infected with bangs disease. This was a rather safe diagnosis since there was no cure for it and there was no way to prove that the diagnosis was right. My mother did not accept this state of affairs and hired our neighbor, Earl Wright to take her to Fort Knox to get her uncle, Dr. Sam Stith, who was an army doctor in training at Fort Knox. When Dr. Stith came to the farm, his idea was to get things moving. He had the idea of a high enema and I was soon in operation again. I had been unconscious for about a week and well remember how good two teaspoons of wine from Mr. Lum Hamilton's cellar tasted.
Uncle Harold and Aunt Alma were planning to return to Iowa for the fall and I soon had my trip planned to go back to Iowa with them. With a Model A Ford Roadster with a single seat, uncle uncle Harold, Aunt Alma, Bosco the dog, and I started to Iowa. I weighed 135 pounds when I left Kentucky, on a diet of one quart of milk and a big package of Graham Crackers three times a day. I gained fourteen pounds before I got to Iowa. uncle Harold would stop the car at a creek two or three times a day to give us all a break and to show Bosco the coon tracks.
I well remember the advertisements for refrigerators along the roadside and the Berma Shave signs. I first got a job at a dairy near uncle Harold's home and well remember helping dig a wagonload of potatoes and delivering them in town the next day. We went one evening to eagle Grove to see Barnam and Bailey and Ringley Brothers circus. It was advertised as the best in the world and in my opinion it well deserved its reputation.
I worked for a dairyman. He had an artesian well which is like a spring. He bottled the milk and put the milk bottles in the well water to cool and delivered them the next day.
The grain harvest in the Dakotas was calling us, so Uncle Harold and I got in the Ford and started north one day and drove the Land of Lakes Trail through Wisconsin to North Dakota. I well remember going through Grand Forks, North Dakota, driving six miles and looking back, there was not one crook in the road.
Grain harvest in North Dakota was entirely different than in Kentucky. In North Dakota, you hitched two horses to a wagon, picked up a pitch fork and went to the afield and got a load of wheat. It would be hard for me to forget the first jack rabbit that I saw. I stood there and watched this animal as big as a Kentucky dog jump up and start running. I always told that he only kicked one hind foot when he started running and when he wanted to get in high gear, he used both feet and was soon out of sight. You can be sure that I stood and watched him until he was out of sight.
There was a great temptation for a seventeen year old boy to eat too much. With the sun up at about 3:30 AM, breakfast at 4 AM you had mid morning lunch at 9 AM, dinner at noon, mid evening lunch at 3 PM and supper at 9 PM.
Uncle Harold had an unforgettable way of having fun with dogs and cats. One Sunday morning, four old hounds were asleep near the back of the cook wagon and four cats were asleep just inside the cook wagon. uncle Harold began by telling the cats how mean the dogs were and we soon had four cats riding four dogs around the cook wagon.
The last job that I had in Iowa was picking corn for Mr Bygness. Of course I had to learn to pick corn and take the shuck off as I went. The first thing to do was to buy a palm hook corn picker and one dozen pair of cotton gloves. I soon learned to hit the ear of corn first with the hook and jerk the shuck off as I grabbed the ear to throw it in the wagon. I soon learned to pick fast enough to fill a thirty-six bushel wagon bed both morning and evening. At seven cents a bushel (if I scooped the corn into the crib) I made $5.04 a day which was big money for the time. I made my first, one hundred dollars this way.
My first trial at roller skating at Eagle Grove did not work so well. Half way across the skating rink, I sat down and removed my skates and enjoyed walking the rest of the way. My second trial at roller skating was in Kentucky about five years later. It almost seemed like someone had taught me to skate in the meantime.
Uncle Harold wanted to come home to Kentucky as soon as possible after Christmas so I was back home in Kentucky the first of January. Since freezing weather started the first of October in Iowa, this was the longest winter that I could remember. I was so glad when spring came along the first of March and the apple trees bloomed the last of March.
I was proud to have made my first one hundred dollars in Iowa but I was glad to get back home to Kentucky. I finished high school in Brandenburg and graduated with my class that May.
The first two weeks in July that year I spent at
Fort Knox at CMTC (Civilian Military Training Camp). Then I bought a Model
T Roadster with my hundred dollars and started teaching school the end
of July that year.