Robert T. Rhode

Robert T. Rhode
Robert T. Rhode

Saturday, March 31, 2018

11. The Diastema ... THE FARM IN PINE VILLAGE

The 1950 Chevrolet was black. In front of the regular windows on the driver’s side and passenger’s side were triangular windows (wing vents) that could be turned in such a way as to force a blast of wind against the face. The breeze felt so good on a hot day! The windshield was in two halves joined by a thin metal connector moulding. When Robert was sitting in front (which was most of the time because he suffered from motion sickness when seated in the back), his eyes would focus first on the metal moulding then on the distant view then on the connector again, until he was well on his way toward nausea!

Joe and Ida drove differently. Joe was far-sighted and enjoyed perusing fellow farmers’ fields to his left. While doing so, he slowly veered the car to the right until the right wheels were off the road and onto the berm. Miraculously, he never lost control of the vehicle but gradually brought it back onto the pavement, only to repeat the experiment immediately afterward. Ida, meanwhile, played with the throttle. Her small foot, usually wearing a sandal in summer, wore out the gas pedal by depressing it and lifting up right away, depressing it and lifting up right away. The car lurched forward and hesitated, lurched forward and hesitated in response. Robert was anxious when Joe drove, nauseous when Ida drove.

When most of the corn had been picked, Robert was riding with Ida at the wheel. She was driving out to visit with Robert’s great uncle Marshall and his great aunt Anna. Down went the gas pedal, up went the gas pedal, down went the gas pedal, up went the gas pedal.

Robert had developed the bad habit of standing in the front seat. On this occasion, he swayed backwards and forwards in time with the motion of the throttle.

“Sit down,” Ida told Robert.

He disobeyed.

“Come over here where I can put my arm around you,” Ida said.

He disobeyed.

Frustrated, Ida said, “Alright! See if I care if you lose your balance.”

Robert was near the passenger door and was having a hard time keeping his balance while the car briefly gained speed and momentarily slowed, gained and slowed, gained and slowed. He felt slightly dizzy. He smelled his mother’s new permanent. (Ida had to have curls in her straight hair!) The Chevrolet was lurching and hesitating while heading east along the gravel road that ran in front of the McFatridge farm. The car dipped down the slight hill leading to the intersection with the gravel road that ran south past the Anderson farm.

Tall corn in the fence corner blocked the view to the right. Ida obeyed the stop sign, but the corn was planted so close to the road that she could not see around it. The tan leaves rustled in the cool breezes of autumn. Ida slowly entered the intersection only to discover that a road grader was bearing down on the intersection from the right. The corn had hidden the big machine! Ida slammed on the brakes, and the road grader just missed the front bumper!

Robert flew headfirst into the hard metal dashboard. He ricocheted back toward the seat and slid onto the floor. He was watching stars sparkling and spangling before his eyes.

Ida put the car in parking gear and muttered, “Why don’t you ever stand close enough so I can grab you?”

Ida did not yell at Robert. She felt terrible about what had happened.

She gently lifted Robert back into the seat. Using her hankie, she stanched the blood flowing from the gums where Robert had knocked out his two front upper teeth. Robert was beginning to see his surroundings again, and the pain was starting. He knew he had been wrong to stand on the seat. Now he sat where he was supposed to sit, and he whimpered.

Ida turned the car around and went home to ask Joe what should be done. Joe and Ida took Robert to Dr. Sullivan, their dentist in Attica, a town ten miles to the south. Dr. Sullivan explained that there was nothing to do but to wait for Robert’s permanent teeth to come in.

At first, Robert’s pronunciation changed to a lisp, but, instead of retreating into his early fear of talking, he pushed through the obstacle and learned to place his tongue a little farther back so that he could say the consonants that otherwise would become hisses. By degrees, he was learning to be more confident and assertive.

A little less than a year after the incident—and just in time for Robert to enter the first grade without embarrassment—Robert’s permanent teeth came in. Owing to the injury, they were separated by a gap, or diastema. Whether Robert liked it or not, his diastema became a trademark. Terry–Thomas was a popular British comic film actor in American movies. Robert always enjoyed his performances because, like Robert, he had a pronounced diastema.

Robert’s teeth were somewhat yellow from the antibiotics he had been given for his frequent earaches. Worried about his diastema and his yellow teeth, his parents took him to see an orthodontist in Lafayette, Indiana. Taking children to an orthodontist was a very modern thing to do. The orthodontist had offices in a very modern building not far from Smitty’s, a large independent grocery store near Purdue University. The very modern orthodontist said that he would apply hydrogen peroxide and heat to whiten Robert’s teeth. When the very modern orthodontist told Joe and Ida that correcting Robert’s diastema would cost $2,000, they asked Robert if he really wanted to have his incisors properly aligned through wearing very modern braces. Robert hated dentists, so the answer was easy. With vast relief, Robert said no to the very modern era. Also relieved, Joe and Ida did not have to pay $2,000 for a closed diastema and whitened teeth.

Ever after that, whenever Robert brushed his teeth, he recalled the hard old dashboard of that 1950 Chevrolet.   

Sunday, March 25, 2018

10. The Carnival ... THE FARM IN PINE VILLAGE

“Don’t forget that you’re taking the boys to the Carnival this evening,” Ida reminded Joe, as he prepared to spend the afternoon picking corn.

Robert had not forgotten! He could hardly wait to go!

Sponsored by the Lions Club, the Carnival was held each year in the gymnasium of the Pine Village School. It featured games and prizes, and everyone attended from miles around.

After supper that evening, the boys put on their jackets, and Joe guided them across the state highway that ran in front of their farm. The occasion was so important that school officials had placed the Coca-Cola life-size lithographed tin policeman signs at the entrances to the school. The smiling policeman in his blue uniform and white gloves held a yellow shield bearing the words SLOW SCHOOL ZONE. Joe, Charles, and Robert followed the driveway around the back, or north, side of the school and through the parking lot filled with the rounded forms of older cars and the streamlined forms of newer cars, some sporting fins over the taillights. Adults and kids of high school age milled about the doorways of the gym.

Construction of the gym had begun in 1940 and was completed in 1943 as a Works Progress Administration project. When the brick school building burned on Sunday the 21st of November in 1943, the gym had been spared.

While Robert had been inside bigger buildings, such as the Edward C. Elliott Hall of Music on the campus of nearby Purdue University—which was an enormous auditorium—he considered the gymnasium to be big enough. High above his head, dark brown rafters formed aesthetically pleasing diamond patterns across the square-based elongated-dome ceiling. The bleachers rose on three sides from concrete tiers that met in parapets sporting iron railings above ramps that sloped down to the double doorways on the southeast and southwest corners. In Robert’s imagination, the parapets, with their additional seating, arched above drawbridges, as if the gym were a medieval castle.

Outside, the autumn air was crisp, but, inside, the crowd made the atmosphere warm. Joe bought tickets for the boys to redeem at the booths. The throng of families and children was elbow to elbow within the gym, and the noise made it almost impossible to hear what anyone was saying. Robert loved the commotion! Booths manned by volunteers stood everywhere on the giant rumpled canvas that covered and protected the varnished basketball floor.

Robert’s favorite game was to go fishing. Two members of the Lions Club stood behind a metal tank made for livestock. Joe handed them a ticket, and one of the men offered Robert a dowel rod for a fishing pole. At one end of the rod was a shiny steel hook. The object was to reach into the water and hook a wooden fish that was about three quarters of an inch thick and six inches long. Each fish had a screw eye at its nose. Logic would dictate that it would be easy to snag the hook through one of the screw eyes, but, for a boy of only five years, hooking a fish was tricky. Robert held the pole almost straight up and down while he leaned against the edge of the tank. The fish, which were painted various colors, bobbed up and down. With all the patience that he could muster, Robert slowly twisted the rod until the hook seemed to line up under the screw eye just beneath the surface of the rippling water. Then he gently pulled the rod upward. Happy day! He had snagged a fish! The volunteers quickly grabbed it, so that no water would drip on the canvas.

His prize was a thin bamboo cane painted dark green. Everywhere, boys and girls who had won games were twirling similar canes. A few splintered remains of canes were underfoot.

Charles likewise won a cane.

Other booths invited contestants to toss balls at wooden targets about the same size as the fish but cut in the shape of milk bottles and painted white. At the milk bottle game, Robert and Charles won crickets, which were brightly colored tin noisemakers equipped with a rectangular piece of metal acting as a spring. By squeezing the spring to bring its end closer to the oval colored top, the owner could make a loud click–click sound. From everywhere could be heard the “click–click, click–click, click–click” of hundreds of crickets, adding to the overall din.

All evening, Joe smiled, as he met neighbor after neighbor for friendly conversation. How he could hear what the other person was saying was miraculous, given the cacophony in the gym. He was a little hard of hearing anyway. He always said that, as a child, he had developed an infection of the inner ear and that, when the doctor had lanced the eardrum to release the pressure of the infection, the result was a loss of some of Joe’s hearing in that ear. Somehow or other, he managed to understand what his friends were talking about while the crickets sang all around him and the volunteers at the booths sang out to patrons.

With a ringing in their ears, Robert and Charles went with their father across the parking lot to the one-story school that had replaced the two-story brick one that Joe had attended. Joe treated the boys to slices of pie in the cafeteria. The fluorescent lights seemed especially bright after threading their way between parked cars in the night.

Robert was sorry for the fun to have come to an end. Joe led Robert and Charles back across the street, and Ida told them it was time for them to change into their pajamas and go to bed.

“Did you win anything?” she asked the boys.

“Oh, yes!” they replied. They demonstrated how loud their crickets were. Ida knew that she would have to put up with the noisemakers for a few days, until their novelty wore off and the clicking mercifully stopped.

As Robert pulled the heavy blankets up to his chin, he turned toward the window near the foot of his bed. The panes looked out on the school driveway. The headlights of cars came to a stop before turning right or left onto State Route 26. For several minutes, Robert watched the light that swelled in the bedroom from each automobile that arrived at the intersection and that dimmed again as the car made its turn. He had had about as much fun as he could stand, so he eventually fell asleep.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

9. The Threshing Reunion ... THE FARM IN PINE VILLAGE

On Labor Day Weekend each year, Joe drove the family the hundred miles to Pontiac, Illinois, to attend the Central States Threshermen’s Reunion. The event featured around fifty steam engines, half a dozen OilPulls, and several big prairie tractors. Every day, a steam engine was belted to a thresher for a demonstration of steam-powered threshing. As the threshing ring to which Joe had belonged had only recently disintegrated, Robert was familiar with threshing machines. His parents had photographed him standing beside the Nichols & Shepard Red River Special the last year that Joe had threshed with his friend Don Akers. Then Joe had bought his first combine, an Allis–Chalmers, which replaced the threshing machine. Had the family not attended the Pontiac show each year, Robert might not have been acquainted with the steam engines that originally supplied the power to the threshers that separated the wheat and other small grain from the stalks on which the grain had grown. Joe’s mother’s brother, Uncle Charley, who had died in 1931, had taught Joe how to run farm steam engines, which Charley had run professionally. Joe loved to see the steam engines at work again—if only for a weekend in Pontiac. Robert and Charles looked forward to the annual trip to the threshing reunion.

The family scurried around before dawn to get ready to go. Ida packed a picnic lunch of tomato soup, which was kept warm in thermos bottles. She wrapped a big block of cheddar cheese with a sharp knife to make cheese sandwiches. Other bottles held milk and coffee. A loaf of bread and a freshly baked apple pie were carefully deposited in the basket. Finally, a red blanket was folded and placed on top of the basket in the trunk of the car. Cookies, as well as other snacks, were arranged beside Ida where she could monitor them.

When Robert was five, the family was scurrying around before dawn on a Sunday. Usually, the family made the trek to Pontiac on a Saturday, but, in that year, Joe had chosen Sunday so that he would not miss an important Masonic meeting on Saturday. The week before, Joe had ensured a safe trip by having Glen Bisel put plenty of air in the spare tire. Glen also made sure that the coolant passages throughout the engine were not blocked. Even though Joe would not be sitting anywhere in stopped traffic—and even though his trip was not all that long—it paid to be sure that the radiator would not overheat. Many drivers carried a jug of water to refill a radiator whose heat (and, therefore, pressure) increased beyond the pounds of resistance from the cap. Cars with clouds of steam streaming out from a raised hood were common sights along roadways. The drivers of such vehicles were forced to wait until the car cooled down before refilling the radiator.

In those days, people dressed up to attend any fair. Accordingly, Joe wore a pair of pleated slacks, a starched and ironed short-sleeved shirt having a pattern of light green fish, and a wide-brimmed straw fedora hat. Ida wore a full skirt with a green and blue floral print and a light blue blouse. The boys put on their best tan shorts and new shirts with horizontal red-white-and-blue stripes. When everyone was ready to go, the sun had not yet awakened.

“Are all the animals fed?” Ida asked Joe.

“Yes,” he replied. “I gave the cows enough feed to hold them until we get home.”

Joe and Ida had not bothered to lock the doors to the house. In those times, no one in the town had a reason to lock a door.

“You did shut off the light in the kitchen, didn’t you?” Ida asked Joe.

“Yes,” he answered, “and I made sure the light was off in the boys’ room.”

The car pulled out of the driveway and headed west.

For the first many miles, Robert was too excited to nap, but, after a while, he felt drowsy. His head nodded, and he leaned into a corner of the front seat. He remembered hearing Ida asking Joe “Are you sure we will make it there?” and Joe replying “We have a good spare.”

The next thing Robert knew, the car was parked along a road in the middle of Illinois and Joe was using a jack to lift the flat tire off the ground. The sun had arisen. Charles and Ida were standing behind Joe and watching. After Joe had changed the tire and everyone was back in the car, Ida said, “I hope the spare will get us there—and back. There won’t be any place open to work on a tire on Sunday.”

“Glen looked at the spare and said its patches were good,” Joe reassured Ida.

On went the car. Just outside Chatsworth, an all-too-familiar bumping sound began. Joe looked grim.

“What will we do now?” Ida asked.

“Somebody in Chatsworth will be able to fix a tire,” Joe said.

The car limped into town. Joe stopped at a closed service station. A couple walking to a nearby church noticed the flat.

“Bill can get you back on the road,” the man said to Joe. “He’ll be at church.”

The couple went into the church, and, soon enough, another man came out and introduced himself as Bill.

He opened the door to the service station. Before long, he had patched both tires. When Joe took out his wallet to pay Bill, Bill waved his hand and said, “You folks just go and have a good time at the reunion.”

Joe pulled into the parking area of the Pontiac 4-H fair at 11:00, giving an hour to look around before the noon whistle. Ida said she wanted to see the crafts on display at the ladies’ building while Joe and the boys walked along the line of engines. Joe and Ida agreed to meet at the car for the picnic lunch at 12:00.

Robert, Charles, and Joe strode beneath the tall trees that shaded the park. As they neared the engines, smoke scented with cylinder oil drifted among the sun-dappled leaves. Robert was a little ahead of Joe and Charles. He wandered behind an engine and watched as a woman put a shovelful of coal in the firebox. She was wearing a plaid blouse and jeans. An engineer’s cap was perched jauntily on the back of her head. She turned around, saw Robert dawdling there, and asked him, “Do you like steam engines?”

Robert was delighted that such a great person as a steam engineer would take notice of him. “Y-yes,” he stammered.

Joe and Charles stepped up.

“Does he belong to you?” the woman asked.

“Yes,” Joe replied. “His name is Robert, and this is Charles. I’m Joe Rhode.”

“I’m Doris Lindenmier, and this”—she pointed a gloved hand toward the engineer on the platform of the engine next to hers—“is my husband, Lester.” Pulling the glove from his right hand, Lester reached down from the platform of his engine to shake hands with Joe.

“I’m pleased to meet you both,” Joe said. “We’ve been coming to Pontiac every year for several years, and I’ve always enjoyed seeing your engines. My uncle was the engineer for a Reeves outfit in the teens and twenties.”

Doris nodded smartly. “They’re good engines!” she said.

Both Doris and Lester ran Reeves engines, which were parked beside one another under the trees. Lazy billows of smoke rose from their stylishly shaped smokestacks. An RN, Doris had the additional responsibility of serving as the reunion’s nurse.

Robert felt a growing fascination for farm steam engines—a fascination that would last throughout his life.

Doris, Lester, and Joe talked briefly about Joe’s uncle’s experiences on various threshing runs, and then Joe said, “I suppose we should be moseying on.”

Doris and Lester waved as Joe, Charles, and Robert walked farther down the line of steam engines. They crossed an open area, and Robert was amazed at how quietly a steam engine could come up behind them so that Joe had to take the boys’ hands and move to one side, allowing the engine to pass. “Chuff, chuff, chuff,” the engine sounded, as if it were breathing.

Just before the noon whistle, Joe brought the boys back to the car. Ida had already spread the red blanket on the soft grass in the shade of the tree beside the Chevrolet. Soon, everyone was eating lunch.

Robert did not care for tomato soup, but, on such a special occasion as getting to go to the steam engine show, he could tolerate it without complaint. He liked the cheese sandwich, and he especially liked the apple pie!

The boys laughed and covered their ears with their hands when the noon whistle took place. From the area where the steam engines were parked, the madcap whistles shrieked and tooted in deafening abandon.

Later that afternoon, Joe and the boys watched as steam threshing was demonstrated. “Rumble, rumble,” the thresher sounded, as its numerous pulleys and belts came to life. Men with pitchforks stood atop two wagons piled high with bundles of wheat. Alternating from one man to the other, their forks lifted sheaves and dropped them on the feeder with its conveyor belt that brought the bundles to the chomping knives and the spinning cylinder teeth, which knocked the grain loose. Eventually, the grain made its way through a loading tube into a wagon while the chaff and straw blew from a big tube in back onto a straw stack. The threshing machine received its power from a big belt that crossed over the flywheel of the steam engine and over the thresher’s main pulley. The two machines were separated some sixty feet. The crowd of onlookers was so large that Joe had to thread his way to the front so that Robert and Charles could get a clear view of the thresher in action. The nicely dressed members of the crowd smiled and politely made way for the boys to work their way forward.

When the threshing crew stopped so that the throng could go to the reviewing stands for the daily parade, Ida joined Joe and the boys, and they sat on the lowest bleacher. One of Robert’s favorite engines was a Keck–Gonnerman owned by Joe Weishaupt; it had Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse painted on the bunkers! Ida had spent her earliest years within a short walk of the Keck–Gonnerman steam engine factory, so she loved the Kecks exhibited in Pontiac. While Joe often stayed for the whole parade, on this occasion he said that the family might want to get an early start on the return trip to Indiana. When almost the last of the steam engines had rumbled past, Joe, Ida, Charles, and Robert left the stands and started toward the parking area.  

Joe must have had a premonition. On the way home, the thumping noise returned. Another flat! As before, Joe slowly changed the tire. Eventually, the Chevrolet pulled into the driveway and parked. There was still enough light to make it easy to milk the cows. The next day, Joe bought two new tires.     

Saturday, March 10, 2018


On a summer day, Robert had gone with his father to crack corn for the cows. Joe stepped up into the crib that was just inside the main door to the barn. He knelt down and took an ear of corn from the mound that slanted downward from the back of the crib to the front. Holding it just right, he banged it down on the edge of an old wooden box, and the ear snapped in two. While his father was busy breaking the ears, Robert pet Fuzz. “Lieutenant Fuzz,” Joe’s nickname for the cat that was based on the Beetle Bailey cartoon strip, was not the only cat on the place. A sleek black female cat had taken up residence. Robert called her “Blackie.” She was crouched on a hay bale at the far end of the alley between the stalls.

All of a sudden, Fuzz leapt up and grabbed both sides of Robert’s leg with his claws. Robert winced from the pain. Then Fuzz rolled and pitched, scratching Robert’s other leg. Robert wanted to run but, each time he took a step, Fuzz grabbed Robert’s leading leg, leaving long red marks. Robert began to scream. Joe came to the door of the crib to see what could be the matter. Taking in the situation in a glance, Joe lightly kicked Fuzz to one side and picked Robert up. When they were outside the barn and away from the cat, Joe walked Robert to the house.

Ida took one look and exclaimed, “What happened to him?”

While Joe told about Fuzz, Ida guided Robert toward the bathroom. She helped him take off his shoes, shirt, and shorts while she ran water in the tub. Once Robert was seated in the warm water, she poured rubbing alcohol in the bath.

“Ow! Oh, ow!” Robert yelled, thrashing around. His legs were on fire.

“Sit still!” his mother commanded.

After a time, the agony of the cuts began to subside. Ida gently bathed Robert’s legs, which were crisscrossed with bloody red lines.

Wiping the tears from his eyes, Robert asked, “Why did Fuzz do that?”

Robert felt betrayed by the cat that he considered his best friend.

“Well,” Ida began, “Fuzz is in love with Blackie, and he was afraid that you would steal her from him.”

Somehow, that explanation made sense to Robert.

“You’ll have to keep your distance for a while,” Ida advised.

Whenever Robert saw Fuzz, he stayed far back. Lieutenant Fuzz never attacked again, but Robert remained wary of him. Robert never could trust Fuzz after the scratching incident.

One day, Robert was preparing to scatter ground feed in the cows’ boxes along the north side of the alleyway. As he climbed onto a hay bale to reach the central box, he thought he heard tiny sounds coming from beneath the wooden box, which rested on the edges of the manger. Hay was packed fairly solidly beneath the box, but Robert detected a small tunnel. As the cows had not yet entered the barn on that side, he jumped down, ran to the latched doorway, unhooked the door, swung it open on its hinges, and stepped up into the stalls. He hurried around the back of the barrier wall to enter the central stall. Now he could easily reach beneath the box. Sticking his hand in the tunnel, he felt soft, warm bodies hiding. Gently, he pulled one out. It was a black kitten with its eyes shut. It mewed loudly. From somewhere in the barn, Blackie answered. Robert knew enough about cats to know that Blackie would come running, so he put the kitten back. Sure enough! Blackie jumped up on the edge of the manger and let herself down to the hay before squeezing under the box.

Robert ran to the house and told his mother about the kittens. She followed Robert back to the barn to see how many there were. Ida pulled out four. There were two black kittens and two cream-colored kittens.

“Blackie will find a new place to hide them now,” Ida said to Robert.


“Because she doesn’t want us to know where they are until she thinks they’re able to fend for themselves.”

His mother was right. The next day, when Robert stuck his hand under the box, he felt only an empty hollow where the kittens had been.

By the time he had celebrated his fifth birthday, Robert was scurrying up the ladder to the haymow right behind his brother. There, they piled the new fifty-pound hay bales to make forts: one on the north and one on the south of the mow. The old bales, which weighed a hundred pounds each, were too heavy to move, but a different baler had made all the difference. Each fort had secret passageways, or tunnels, through which the boys could crawl, getting plenty of chaff down their necks while they were at it. Both forts had parapets high up near the ceiling. As the barn was small, the parapets were not widely separated. The ammunition that the boys “fired” at one another consisted of the occasional walnut along with corn cobs having the kernels shelled off, leaving only the pink, lightweight cob. When either brother showed his head above the parapet, the other rapidly threw cobs his way. It was great fun!

The mow had the fragrance of dried flowers and spices. In those days before homes had air conditioning, the mow was hot in the summer, but the boys took no notice of the heat. For hours each day, they designed and built their forts.

Down below, barn swallows sailed in and out of the open doors on the southeast and northeast corners of the barn to gain access to their nests in the stalls. The males had touches of bright orange above and below their bills. There markings made it appear as though they were wearing a pale orange cowboy handkerchief tied around their necks. Their undersides were almost white. The females were similar, but the orange was not as brilliant. Both had backs and tails that seemed black in the shadows of the barn but shimmered blue in the sunlight. The tails were gracefully long and opened like scissors. The birds’ nests adhered to the sides of the ceiling beams. They appeared to be made with tiny mud bricks. Along a few of the beams were rows of nests. Every summer, Robert could hardly wait to see the open beaks of the baby birds awaiting food from their parents, aunts, and uncles. The adult swallows circled low above the meadows to the east and south as they caught insects on the wing. They glided effortlessly, now and then pumping their wings a few times so as to dart after bugs.

One of Robert’s favorite activities was to help his father to bring in the cows whenever the Holsteins remained in the meadow at milking time. Often, they came to the barn of their own volition, but, when they did not, Joe and the boys took the path the cows had made: a dusty line curving through the timothy and clover. Cabbage, alfalfa, and sulphur butterflies flitted and bobbed—especially near any puddles left from a recent shower. Monarch butterflies and black swallowtails sailed on updrafts. The pasture smelled like rich chamomile tea. Often, the dozen or so Holsteins were to be found standing in the shade of an old elm tree. The cows would be chewing their cud as they turned their deep blue eyes toward Joe and the boys. Now and then, their tails swung to discourage flies.

At Joe’s urging, the cows launched forward like swaying ships. Black-and-white spotted flanks and rumps tilted to one side then the other. The cows were so tame that they required almost no persuasion to come to the barn to be milked at feeding time.

While farm life could certainly be hectic—with work that never ceased—it also danced to slower rhythms such as the strolling of cows on summer paths.