You all are aware that my mother raised me in her parents’ household after ‘our’ divorce. I referred to my mother’s parents as Mama and Papa. They were eccentric and I loved them dearly. I was especially fond of my Papa. He called me his barnacle.
They threw away the mold after they made my Papa. A frustrated farmer stranded in the city, his idea of vacation was to pile us into the car and head off to the Ozarks to tour all of the hen houses he could find. My mother, who worked full time and sometimes went to school as well, did not think that this was a very ‘cool’ vacation and wisely stayed at home.
We drove up and down little country highways gaping at cows in the fields in search of the next hen house. (“Look there…that’s an ANGUS there, Tara!”). We’d park in some dusty ol’ farm yard. Mama would sit in the car. I felt that I should AT LEAST get to get out of the car!
As you can guess, if you’ve seen one hen house, you’ve pretty much seen ’em all! And Papa REALLY wanted to ‘talk shop’ with the other farmers so we were stranded pretty much til one of ’em was talked out…
I got carsick pretty regularly and one trip I think I had had two 7-Ups and there was still no restroom in sight…we could get pretty deep in them hills in search of hen houses. This time was a real potty emergency! Finally Papa found a little ol’ sundry store. It had an outhouse restroom with its own tarantula on the wall over the hole. I’ve been told since that tarantulas aren’t in the Ozarks, but I know better!
One highlight was the time we actually got to stop at a ‘tourist trap’! Yes, yes! It is true! We stopped at Cherokee Village and I watched them make pottery and stuff…well, I saw pottery sitting on tables and they told me how they made it. I picked a little miniature clay vase with a purple flower on it. Papa fussed all the way to the car because I believed those cons who were trying to pretend to be the real thing. I was wounded! After all, didn’t I have my authentic clay vase? “Yeah!”, Papa snapped as we headed off to view another hen house, “it’s made in CHINA if the truth were known!” I was biting my tongue for a good few minutes til I tumped the thing upside down. There on the bottom it was stamped in bold, bright blue letters ‘Made in Taiwan’! I didn’t say ONE word!
There aren’t many of the old hen houses left in the Ozarks anymore, y’all…the conglomerates have swallowed them up…I remember one man bragging how many generations had run their farm. Once in a while I see one I remember! Rory just marvels.
It wasn’t what you’d call great fun but I was with my Papa and if I could just drive up to one more hen house with him today….what I wouldn’t give.