If a picture paints a thousand words…

If a picture paints a thousand words, can I write that many words about this picture?


From left to right: Tony, Pam, Queenie, Prince, Cindy. In the background are Grandma, Amy (our collie) and Mom.

I’ll tell you first what I can about the picture. The picture is not dated, but it was probably taken in 1965 or 1966 in our yard at the stone house. I would have been about eight years old, which would make Pam about 12, Mom about 41 and Grandma, I don’t know.  

I do not know, for certain, what season this photo was taken in. It certainly looks like early autumn. Pam and I both are wearing shorts, which would indicate warm temperatures, but there are quite a few leaves on the ground. We had many oak trees on our property that are obviously dropping leaves, but there is one tree in the right background of the picture that hasn’t dropped many leaves at all. Which reminds me, that raking leaves was a big project at our house. Dad would not start raking until all the leaves had fallen. And, he was very methodical about it. And, he never left a leaf. We had to help. Dad never did anything half-assed. He was meticulous to the point of obsession and leaf raking was no exception. Dad must have been at home when this photo was taken. I know this because his station wagon is in the driveway. Dad might be the one that snapped this picture. If he did, maybe he used his Argus camera.

Long before we graduated to horses, we had three , Prince, Queenie and Tony. Pam’s perception might be different, so I ask forgiveness if I get this wrong, but as I remember it, Pam wanted horses. She wanted horses more than anything. At Christmas time, when the rest of us were asking for record players and ice skates, Pam would ask for horses. The rest of us, of course, got what we asked for, but, Pam always got the short end of the stick, so to speak. I think, one year she even asked for a bridle, hoping that that first horse related gift would eventually lead to the next.

Since Pam was always the good girl and really wanted horses, dad was ready to cave. He posed a question for a vote – a swimming pool or horses. Bonnie and I voted for the pool. Linda, my oldest sister, surely wanted the pool, too. I mean, she was already driving, dating boys, working a part-time job, what use could horses be to her? But, Pam and Dad voted for the horses.  So, we got our three ponies.

Dad built a nice barn, with stalls and hay loft and he fenced in an area of yard for our ponies to roam. Pam fed them every morning before school and in the evenings after school, she fed them, brushed them, mucked horse poop and did whatever else was necessary for their well-being.

We joined the 4-H. I remember going to a few meetings in the community building behind our volunteer fire hall. Prince could pull a cart. I vaguely remember dad taking me for a ride in the cart. Did Dad actually run Prince against other ponies in a cart race once?

Once, I walked too close behind Prince while he was grazing. I must have startled him as he bucked and kicked me in the teeth. I didn’t lose any, but I did bleed.

Tony was a mean pony. I didn’t like him. Truth was I was afraid of him. He bit Pam in the ass once. It was a nasty bite that made an ugly bruise. I think she may have been feeding him. She may still have a scar! Or was it her boob?

Neighbors down the road had a huge field and we would take the ponies there to graze. Queenie escaped once.  She walked about seven miles along the road – from country to suburbia and finally stopped walking at Ron Stephenson’s house. I remember his name because he was the news anchor at our local TV station, WJAC. Of the hundreds of homes that could have piqued her fancy, Queenie chose the one that would make the news. Well, that, and I think they had an apple tree that was pretty enticing. Later that night, on the news, for our whole town to see, was Mrs. Stephenson feeding Queenie apples. Yep, we were the “fluff” story of the day. And, of course, it took months to live it down at school.

I don’t know what ever happened to those ponies. I think we sold them or gave them away when we upgraded to horses. Pam would know and I hope she shares that in a comment.

Our collie, Amy, was a friendly dog. Shortly after giving birth to 13 puppies, she was hit by a car and died. Our new sister-in-law, living with us while her husband, my brother, served in Vietnam, hand fed this mass of puppies with an eyedropper every day while we were at school. By the time she got done going around with the dropper once, it was almost time to do it again. In the mornings before school and after school when we got home, we helped with the feedings, too. Well, no I really didn’t help much. I thought their bed stank of sour milk. It was mostly Pam that helped. She would assist with the puppy feedings right after she took care of the ponies. Like I said earlier, she was the good girl. Not all of the puppies survived. Maybe one of my sisters remembers how many did.

So, I just took a word count. I’m close to reaching 1,000 words! I could write more about just how doggone cute I was when I was eight! Or about the time I pooped my pants in school at that age because my third grade teacher, Mrs. Bowman, wouldn’t let me got the bathroom. Or, I could write more about the stone house, or my sister, or my super cool grandma or my mom.

I’m glad I stumbled upon this picture. Happy memories (well, except for pooping my pants at school)!


24 thoughts on “If a picture paints a thousand words…

  1. It was me in th hayloft. A long love (Wayne Berkey) and myself. Also, Linda Bulisok and I can’t remember who she was with. Maybe Gary Saylor. Of course mom and dad didn’t know we had boys with us so they never really checked on us. However, Wayne’s dad came looking for him around 2 a.m. Wayne had to go home and his family never liked me since. And, the honest to goodness truth. I didn’t do anything bad. We maybe just kissed once or twice. I loved his English Leather cologne. To this day, when I smell it I think of Wayne. SOOOOOOOOOOO many years ago.

  2. Just great memories. One regarding the ponies … It was me, Pam and Gary Saylor, I believe. Marylin Mock, a neighbor, was so jealous of our ponies so don’t ask me why, but the three of us, me, Pam and Gary rode the ponies to Marylin’s house one afternoon which was probably 3-4 miles away. Once we got to Marylin’s house, she had some crazy idea to let the ponies come into her house. Of course, her mom and dad were not home. Well, you guessed it, Tony, the pony, decided to take a crap in the living room. Just then, Mrs. Mock came home. We took off on the ponies and our parents got a call, even before we got home. The police were called,etc. Still to this day, I can’t understand why we did such a stupid thing.

    • I DID NOT GO WITH YOU GUYS THAT DAY!!! You went with Linda Bullisock and Gary Saylor. Why did you remember me in this story. I would not have gone in that house with the ponies. Remember I was the good daughter. You and friends also threw stones at an old guy’s house that day. I think he was the one that called the cops. You were grounded for a month but the grounding only lasted about a week.

      Remember when you, Sharon Negrey and another person broke into the Ridge. I stayed outside to be the lookout cause I knew what you were doing was bad. Of course when someone (namely Dennis) came I couldn’t whistle a warning due to fright and you all got caught. Shortly later Dennis rounded me up and I got in trouble too.

      • Wow, I see my aunties in a whole new light……breaking into buildings, pooping ponies, haylofts with boys….tisk tisk!

        • Who said anything about boys in the hayloft. It wasn’t me. I had to deal with Rats in the hayloft with one committing suicide to get away from me.

          • My dad, your grandfather was quite frugal when it came to money. He did not want the hayloft light on the whole time when we were in the barn feeding and cleaning, so I would have to climb the hayloft ladder and walk halfway through the hayloft to pull a string attached to the light. I knew we had some rats because you could hear them. When I climbed up and finally turned on the light there was a family of rats looking at me with wide eyes which of sure reflected mine as well. After a moment of stunned shock they took off running with one of them leaping through the hayloft ladder opening. It had hit the wall and floor and died. I was teased about this for years that a rat committed suicide when it saw me. I believe it just got unlucky that day.

  3. Where did you get that picture? You did a great job with the story with only a few minor errors. Yes I always wanted horses even when I was very small. I remember a stick horse and playing horsey all the time. I would ask for a horse every Christmas and as you mentioned I got the short end of the stick with gifts, but one year I got smart and decided to ask for a saddle (not a bridle). Mom just laughed and laughed and said if I ever got a horse she would buy me a saddle. She did not follow up on that agreement. I never gave up hope for a horse and besides I had God on my side. (I had a lot of faith that God would provide and Dad happened to be the middle man for this blessing.)

    When we first got Prince he lived in the garage at night and Dad would stake him out in the day so he could eat grass. I was taking you to see and pet Prince and he must have gotten spooked cause he ran and kicked. You were in the way and got hurt. You were afraid of the horses after that and really didn’t do much with them.

    Bonnie and I had great times and stories with the horses though I think she rode more so boys would pay attention to her. (Her being the beautiful daughter.)

    Tony the pony was mellow and nice when we first got him. He got mean after we started breeding him with Queenie. I don’t think he knew he was a stud. (maybe he was too young when we first got him.)

    I did get bit on the ass but it was Queenie that bit me. I had forgotten to feed the horses one night ( I must have been really tired). Anyway when I did remember it was very late (midnite maybe) I was leaning on Queenie’s stall to get her some food and got bit. Yikes that hurt and I had a mark there for a long time. It’s not there now.

    Dad sold the ponies, he would never give them away (money thing.) He then gradually bought horses cause we were growing too big for the ponies. Of course I don’t know why but Bonnie always took the best of the crop and being younger I let her i.e. Prince and Kit.

    There were times when we did have rats in the barn and that’s another story in itself.

    By the way, all of the puppies survived and I did a lot of dropper feeding. Mom would bring left over formula from work. I quess cause it was free.

    Dad was not only meticulous with the leaf raking but also with barn cleaning and if I didn’t do it well enough he would re-do it. I eventually learned to do it as well as he did.

    Well I hope I did a good enough job on my version of those events. I want to know what Bonnie remembers of the good ole horse days.

  4. Beautiful Pictures and nice family story!! We moved out of the city and into the country to build the type of memories you wrote of with my boys!! I love country living! Thank you for in a sense portraying its worth it!! XO

  5. Shani and I once tried to camp out in the barn one summer night….grandfather scared the pants off of us though by rattling a metal barrel with it’s lid…we thought there was a bear in there!

  6. OMG This story is too funny! I think I had moved out to the big city by the time of the ponies because I don’t remember much about them – no, wait my boyfriend at the time and I used the hayloft (once.)

    Dad was meticulous about everything he did. I used to think he made a job more complicated than it had to be but that was just the way he was.

    I remember Grandma’s little chuckle and she would always say “hells bells” which cracked up Shani and Kara.

    • I used to like to play in the hayloft, right up until the time that Dad and Pam announced we had a rat in there!

  7. Funny how I always heard stories of the ponies and horses but never ever saw a photo. Nanny and Grandma look the same as they always did!

    • I would definitely have to agree with you, that Grandma, your Great Grandma, looks the same in this photo as she always did! Man, she was one of the coolest people I have ever met!

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