Our trip to Nebraska in 1989 was not unlike many we had made in past years. Highway 76 goes through eastern Colorado where it is dry and basically lifeless. Oh, there's the occasional rest stop or gas station, but for the most part all there is to see is sage brush and more sage brush. As you cross the state line into Nebraska you see the "Nebraska -...the good life" sign. Soon the scenery begins to change. Rows and rows of green corn stalks all of which seem to be standing at attention saluting the sun. Field after field line both sides of the highway. Loving history, it's hard for me not to think of the original homesteaders. I can picture those men and women struggling in the heat behind a plow pulled by a team of horses. If they could just see the legacy of farms today, I'm sure they would be amazed.
My thoughts wander back to when "going home" meant hot summer days and quiet moonlit nights when the only sound you heard was the chirping of crickets. Days spent riding on an uncles tractor or walking to town to see Grandma at the library. Going to the Evers "home place" for a Sunday dinner of fresh fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, homemade bread, just picked sweet corn and for desert ice cream. Not just any ice cream either - homemade ice cream that we all took a turn at the crank to make. To top the ice cream - strawberries that had been prepared earlier with a little sugar and set in the fridge to juice - oh my - just like heaven!
But this trip would be different. A family reunion with aunts, uncles and cousins, some I had not seen for many years. We would be gathering at "home" - this year was special because my Uncle Willis, who had not been home for 47 years, would be returning and we all wanted to be with him.
My Dad is the youngest of five children, he and his brother Willis, being just a year apart, were very close. Growing up they spent many hours playing cops and robbers or walking through the corn fields hunting pheasants or rabbits.
In 1936 the two of them purchased a Harley-Davidson Police Special motorcycle for $65 and headed to Minnesota to work the harvest season. Willis was the daredevil of the two. He would stand on the motorcycle and ride it down the gravel road balancing on the seat. I would imagine that was something grandma was not to happy about!
It wasn't a surprise, when Willis enlisted in the Army Calvary in 1940, that my Dad followed his lead and enlisted a couple weeks later. Willis was sent to Ft. Meade, South Dakota and trained with the Fourth Calvary for combat on a motorcycle. He was sent to Arkansas where he received training riding through the thick woods. But what he really wanted to do was to learn to fly airplanes........
To be continued.....