The Ronnie and Danny show made its first appearance down on the farm in the spring of 1942. It became an annual trek to the southern-most part of Indiana, where we got to spend a good part of the summer. The little town of Maysville was just a few miles west of Washington, on US Highway 50, just before the White River bridges. I remember vividly riding the train from Detroit. My grandfather Amann worked for the B&O railroad and I believe provided some sort of discounted fare for us. I remember not being able to satisfy my thirst drinking from the little paper cups, dispensed from a tall cylindrical container, next to a little water faucet recessed in the wall. I loved riding the train, the smells, the constant clickety-clack sound from beneath, and the occasional steam whistle blow, a sound you don’t hear anymore except in an old movie.
There was never a dull moment on the farm for the two of us. Danny wasn’t quite a running buddy yet… he still had the walker thing going. It was the beginning of a dozen year run, our terrorizing the barnyard and orchards, where we learned throwing stones at the beehive could be a painful experience. One didn’t do that more than once.
The farm didn’t have running water so we became quite accustomed to outhouse etiquette. The use of corn cobs, placed in bulk in a bucket, and the ever handy pages of an old Sears Roebuck catalog. You can use your imagination here. Saturdays became our bath of the week day, whether we needed it or not. The bath water was hand pumped right there at the kitchen sink. Grandpa kept a set of rusty scissors and hair clippers handy for whenever we might need a shear. It was a painful experience for the most part, it always involved some shedding of tears.
Every Saturday night there was an amateur talent contest down at Eastside Park in Washington. The park had two huge slides that just took a little guys breath away, when both climbing the stairs, and during the triple-bump ride down. Before heading for the park in later years, after cousin Dan escaped from his walker, we never forgot to take along a piece of waxed paper to sit on for the ride down.
The Jett family lived on an adjacent farm at the far end of a huge watermelon patch. They were relatives. My Uncle Hershel and Aunt Edna(my mother’s older sister) lived there with their three children, Don, Dick and Nancy. Their house was located alongside a railroad track, where great long trains would pass by frequently, both day and night. We used to sit on the porch and motion to the engineers to blow their whistles… as they always did. The Highway 50 crossing was about a half mile down their lane. I think the engineers loved blowing their whistles as much as we loved hearing them. I know I would have.
One early farm experience, I’m sure because we were the newest additions to the family, involved being awakened in the middle of the night. We used to sleep on what was called a pallet, an assortment of blankets and quilts, layered on the floor next to the bed. Where, we were often awakened by the bedroom lights coming on, and suddenly found ourselves surrounded, being examined by an unknown family of adults staring down. Why all this attention? As a parent now, I totally understand, our parents were celebrating our existence.