As far back as I can remember, back on the farm, we put our hay up loose- stowed away in the second floor of the barn in what was called the “Hay-mow.” I’m not sure when it was, but along about 1948 we made a deal with Scotty Danielson to bring his baler over to our farm to bale our hay.
That was the year everything changed.
Scotty had a Farmall “A” tractor that was just my size and I would drive it, pulling his baler while three of the men would run the machine, pushing and hooking wires and stuffing hay under the packing hammer.
Then I would get to drive the Farmall “A” again to pick up the bales on the hay-wagon. When it was all loaded, one of the men would drive from the field to the barn for unloading and stowing the hay in the hay-mow.
Then the fun began!
I guess the work all day wasn’t enough to wear us out so we would head for the hay-mow when all the work was done and begin moving the bales of hay around making tunnels all through the second floor of the Barn. We would move bales to make a passage, and then lay bales cross-ways over the passageway to enclose it. Then we’d move all the extra bales back in place so we would have secret entrances and escapes. We even had rooms.
It’s a real wonder that we aren’t still buried up there in that barn floor somewhere after a catastrophic hay collapse!
I remember one time we had one of our secret chambers that had been built right over a chute that led to the first floor of the Barn where the cattle were in their stanchions. The room was about six feet square and maybe 4 feet high. There was room for maybe 20 kids!
Well, maybe a few less that that!
My brother Jim and I and two of our cousins, Don and Norm, who were visiting us on this day, had gravitated to our secret chamber. After traversing a labyrinth of tunnels we finally arrived and squeezed ourselves into the cavity. We had a couple of flashlights with Ray-O-Vac batteries in them.
Now, Ray-O-Vac batteries were advertised widely in the farm magazines and I was always the first one to look at the magazines because I had this thing about wanting to be a mail-man when I grew up. Cassius Hazzard was a remarkable mail-man and if I was lucky enough to be at the mail-box when he came, he would hand the mail to me. That was a special treat!!
He was a Square-jawed man that always looked like he needed a shave! In the magazines, Successful Farming and the other one, Farm Journal or something- or-other, (I can’t recall its name) there was an advertisement for some Liniment product. The caption on the Ad was, “When Peter Pain Strikes…!” Well, Cassius Hazzard looked just like the caricature of Peter Pain!!
Ray-O-Vac batteries had a graphic Ad that showed a farmer in some hazardous situation in the dead of night with a flashlight and a white beam of light streaming out from that magnificent instrument and a caption, “Now! Light when you need it!!”
Oh! That impressed me!
So, there we were in our dark chamber with Norm sitting precariously over the chute. Don began telling a story that I had never heard! “Who Stole My Golden Arm!!”
One of the flashlights went dead! So much for Ray-O-Vac’s Ad!! I guess they’ve probably gotten better by now!
Don continued with the story about a guy who married a girl who had a golden arm and he began to realize that he was more interested in the golden arm than he was in her.
As stories go, the wife finally died and, since she was kind of attached to it, she wanted her arm buried with her. All went fine, but the husband got to thinkin’ about that arm – and all that gold and couldn’t sleep. So, he went out and dug her up and relieved her of her Golden arm, took it home and tucked it under his pillow.
Now by this time, things in our chamber were getting pretty tense! All eyes were on Don! All ears were on his voice! The second flashlight was going dim! Jim was shining it under Don’s chin giving an eerie glow and ghostly shadow to his face.
He, in a quiet and mysterious voice, continued the story.
The wife couldn’t rest without her arm so she began wandering about searching and calling, “Whooo Sstolllle my Golden Aarrrmmmm!!?? At first her call was way off in the distance but it kept coming closer and closer to where her husband rested on his pillow, underneath which was the golden arm!
The man was becoming nervous and agitated! Did she know? Then the bedroom door creaked open!
“Whooo Sstolllle my Golden Aarrrmmmm!!??
Jim held the dim light!
I sat there clutching two handfuls of hay! I had to go to the bathroom!!
Norm was over on the tenuous perch above the chute!
Don said, “BOO!
We all jumped about four feet high!
Norm almost fell down the chute! The door of the chute clattered to the floor below and scared the herd of cows, the team of horses and all the calves in the pen, half to death.
We all laughed, even Norm!
I do not recall ever building tunnels in the hay-mow after that.
I don’t really know why?