Growing up we lived on Wooden Shoe Rd. Twice. The next few blogs will be written in parts because there is just too much to write about. Back then living out in the country as a kid you really had to have an imagination. Most of my time was spent over at my best friend Kenny Erdmann’s house. The Erdmann’s had a small hobby farm and there was always something going on over there. Mrs. Erdmann was a stay at home mom and a hobby farmer’s wife at the same time. Because Mr. Erdmann worked full time as an electrician for American Can she had to do many of the daily farm chores. She had a pretty loyal “egg customer” base and if she wasn’t out in the barn or doing housework, she was at the kitchen counter cleaning and packaging eggs. As I look back, I realize how strong of a woman she actually had to be. With half the neighborhood kids over at the house, she also had to keep an eye on us making sure we weren’t getting into trouble. “KENNY! You kids get out of that barn!” She must have hollered those words from the kitchen window 20 times a day. “Get out of the barn?”…….. I would say to Kenny. But that was where all the fun was! Up in the hayloft or in the chicken coop harassing the chickens, trying not to get chased by “Rooty the Rooster” who was as tall as we were and scared us to death. I was an instigator and could often convince everyone to pretty much do anything. A lot of which got us into trouble. It was easy to get bored, so the imagination was always running wild. I was that kid who was always saying,” ask your mom if we can…….”. I think I ate supper and slept over at that house more times than my own. And it was only because, I would say, “Kenny, ask your mom if I can eat over”. It wasn’t because they were having anything special or anything that I loved to eat. It was because it was FUN to eat supper over there and to watch how it all “went down”. Undoubtedly, at some point Mr. Erdmann would have enough of all the horsing around at the table and would “whisper yell”………. “somebody get me that stick”! And there was….. “a stick” and somebody (usually Mrs. Erdmann) would get up from the table to go get it. Then, there it would sit, leaning up against the table, while nobody said a word (and I would be trying not to laugh). This was a farm family and “the rod” DID NOT, get spared…….. something missing in today’s world. You have heard the term speak softly and carry a big stick? That was Mr. Erdmann. He was a quiet man and “whisper yelled”. That’s the only way I can describe it. The more mad he got, the louder he “whisper yelled”. He was yelling, but it came out kind of like a whisper.
Most often during the day, the disciplining came under the hand of Mrs. Erdmann. I remember one particular day when it was raining outside and so we were all in the house. Kenny did something, I don’t remember what it was, but all of a sudden here comes Mrs. Erdmann running towards him (he was gonna “get it” and he knew it) and out the door they both went. It was pouring rain outside and there was Kenny in his stocking feet being chased down Wooden Shoe Rd. by his mom. I don’t remember which one of them gave up the chase. One way or the other, I’m sure Kenny lost.
When I would say, “Kenny, ask your mom if I can sleep over”, it was usually a Friday night because that meant “The Dukes of Hazzard” along with all of us sitting two feet from the t.v. making a mess of the bowl of popcorn (with a pound of butter on it). Back then, there was one t.v. and three channels……. besides the “dumb channel 38”. Mr. and Mrs. Erdmann were gracious enough to let us have the t.v for “The Dukes”. Probably because it kept us quiet. Most of the time they would be sitting right there watching with us. After “The Dukes” it was “Dallas” and that was when we usually went upstairs, or back outside if it was summer.
Without fail, whenever fall comes around I think of the times we spent riding in the corn picking wagon. There were quite a few acres of field corn that had to be picked and I remember we couldn’t wait for Mr. Erdmann to get home from work and fire up the Farmall tractor and the corn picker. He would try to be quiet and sneaky about it, but we always heard the tractor start and would come running. He would always let us ride in the wagon. It was just good old fashioned……fun. I’m pretty sure at one point or another, every kid in the neighborhood rode in that wagon.
This particular blog was a really small “snapshot” of these early years spent with my friends The Erdmann’s on Wooden Shoe Rd. There is so much more to share and remember. When I look back, it was such a short but special time of my life, spent with some very special people. Life has taken us in different directions, as it often does. But, I can honestly say that there isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t think about that period of my life and the time spent with the Erdmann family. They are the type of friends that after not talking for years can pick up like it was yesterday. I often drive down Wooden Shoe Rd. and reminisce about those days. Sometimes I find a place to park and just walk down the road. I did that just yesterday, as I was putting this story together. The pictures posted here are of the Erdmann home as it sits today. The house has had some updates, but the barn and the front yard pretty much look the same. The other picture is of Jim and Dawn Erdmann that I copied from a facebook post a few years ago. They looked great, and it just…. made me happy.