One day Jenny was taking a long time to come home from school. She was driving the newest car we ever owned and I was very fond of that little car. It was red and had a tape player. I had rediscovered country music. I had bought several tapes and was trying to convince Charles how country music had changed since we met in 1970.Who am I kidding, I loved that little car. While I was waiting for her to get home and pacing the floor, the phone rang. It was the Doniphan county Sheriff's dept. The officer said Jenny had rolled my car about three times on 36 hwy. She had gotten too close to the graveled shoulder and over corrected. He said she was fine and her "companion" was fine as well. She wasn't allowed to see that boy from Sparks and was forbidden to see him anymore. My perfect little car on the other hand was lying in a cold ditch.
When Charles got home we took her to the hospital in Atchison Ks to have her arm checked out. She said she and "the boy"(no names please) were arguing over the tape player. During the roll over she ended up in the back seat and never knew how she got there. Her arm was fine, to her dismay, she knew we were mad, to put it lightly, about the car and the fact she had disobeyed us by having him in the car with her in the first place.
The officer at the scene called Davies' Oil Co to tow the car to our house. Charles was able to fix some of the damage to the body but the engine was totaled. We managed to buy another engine from A-1 auto salvage in Elwood. It took several months before we got the bill paid to have them put in the engine. We had the "new" engine about two months when one day Charles took it out of the garage and drove about five feet. This horrendous crashing noise was heard like breaking glass. It only took a few calls to find out the timing chain in those types of cars is only good for 50,000 miles. The timing was off and long story short all the rods broke into a thousand pieces, so long little red Mercury.
The horses kept getting out, no matter how many times we fixed the fence. They would push against the hot wire, shiver and shake then push a little more until the wire broke. Across the bridge they would go. In the beginning before they knew they could go across the bridge we would come home and look off into the distance in the bluffs of the Missouri river and see a red dot and a white dot, knowing those was our horses. It was such a good feeling knowing they were getting fed. There was a creek running through the property. All we had to provide was a mineral block. We’d bring feed to them only when we wanted to catch them to ride. I remember the long dirt road that wound around to Eagle Springs, and up the steep hills to a point where you could see all four states at the same time. Everything looked so small from up there. The dirt was so fine and Mr. Whetstine, who was county commissioner at the time kept it graded to a fine powder. He, and some other farmers in the county had farmland and cattle to get to back there and had to keep it passable. The other citizens in the county that didn't have land or livestock in that area were less than pleased that their tax dollars was paying for the grading. He also pushed through the increase in taxes to build the cement bridge that replaced the old iron bridge that collapsed in the flood of 1984.There weren't any houses out that way except the house we lived in that he owned and the old two story house way up the hill across from us owned by Mr. Sparks. His family established the town, Sparks, that was named after them.
Eagle Springs was on one of the turns on the dirt road. The natural spring that fed that area sometime over flowed across the road, there was a natural spring fed pool on both sides of the road. On the south side of the road was a swimming pool that was filled with mud, a chimney that was all that was left of a huge hotel that used to stand in the 1950's.Male residents in the county would have their "lodge meetings" there. The story goes that some of the wives happened to stop by one evening and caught their husbands in an "unflattering" light, so to speak, and a fire was started. The hotel was burned to the ground and never rebuilt. It was said to be a grand hotel. The chimney bricks and the thin peeks of cement from the swimming pool was all that was left. The trees and weeds, cattails, frogs and snakes took over the spring and the area became a swamp.
One day Jenny and Chuck and I were riding bicycles along the road. We had gone passed Eagle Springs and up the hill and around the next bend. We turned around to head back home because the next hill was too steep for us to climb or push the bicycles. Jenny headed out first and then Chuck. Chuck always hated for anyone to get ahead of him so was hurrying to catch up and pass her. They headed around the bend toward Eagle Springs and I was at the rear. I suddenly heard a loud cry and knew Chuck had slid in the loose dirt just around the corner out of my site. I hurried to get to him and there he was, and there his bicycle was about ten feet north of him. “I slid on my face! I slid on my face!” He was crying and I looked him over. When I couldn't see anything wrong with him I started to laugh and Jenny came back and started to laugh too! Chuck though wasn't laughing and refused to ride his bike home. He pushed it all the rest of the way home.
Jay, the friend that Charles made at his new job in Wathena, had found a baby raccoon and was treating it like a pet. He had nursed it back to life when its mother had been killed. It was so cute and tame. They called her Bandit of course and gave her to us when it was old enough to eat on its own. Jenny loved that raccoon. We carried her on our shoulders and walked her on a leash like a dog. I’d carry her down to Wolfe river and sit under the bridge while she played in the water. She didn't seem to like the water much. Charles made a cage for her in a hollow of the biggest tree in the yard just south and west of the house. She was starting to get bigger and when she turned 7 months old she started to change. She came in heat and would growl and threaten us whenever we would get near the tree. That made us sad that we couldn't pet her or play with her anymore. One day we went out to feed her and give her water. Her cage had been broken and she was gone. We knew King would chase her off and there were always "coon" hunters with dogs yelping and barking all night while she was gone. We were so afraid the dogs would find her.
About six months later we noticed King's dog food had been tampered with and started to get suspicious but were not willing to hope. When we came home one night from one of the kid's programs there was Bandit on the front porch waiting at the door. Jenny ran over to her not heeding a single warning I gave and started petting her. Bandit jumped and played and made ratty noises, clicking and playing with toys. We laughed so hard! She was scratching Jenny's legs to shreds climbing up on her but Jenny said she didn't care it was so good to be able to see her and touch her one more time. We knew we had to let her out and that would be that. When we did she never came back again.
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