My dad, Les Grove, wrote these stories of his childhood.
Harry, go home!
Harry Malonik had a fairly prominant place in my earliest recollections. They too lived on a farm, the distance between our houses being just a mile and a half. Harry was the youngest of the three Malonik boys. He was about three years older than I, and though he was skinny and not large for his age, he was strong and tough.
Harry came over to our house often, and stayed as long as he could. One evening Harry stayed and played with Chester, Stanley and me until darkness settled in. The narrow road back to his house passed through a swamp where there were many old stumps and fallen logs, as well as the thick foliage of the willow trees that crowded close to the trail. Harry decided to stay at our place that night instead of going through that scary swamp on the way home.
Chester, Stanley, and I slept in the hayloft of the barn during those warm summer days, and we didn't mind having Harry sleep up there with us. The only problem was that our oldest brother, George, also slept in the loft, and he didn't like Harry's irrepressible talking and giggling. George called out, "Harry, be quiet" and the noise stopped for a bit. Soon the giggling began again, followed by another warning call from George. The scene was repeated the third time. Then came the ultimatum, "Harry, go home"!
Harry was afraid to go home by himself. Chester, Stanley and I went along with him half the distance to his house, but he had to go through the swamp by himself. He started running, crying all the way through the swamp. The next day he told us about all the fierce creatures he saw.
Harry's Little Finger
On the farm where I lived for the first fourteen years of my life we didn't have any equipment beyond the bare minimum- like a wagon, buggy, sleigh, cutter, and cream separator. So we were always curious when we saw other kinds of machinery at other farms.
One day Stanley and I were at the Augie Peterson farm, about three quarters of a mile away, together with Harry Malonik. We had heard a lot about the Peterson's sawmill that was located some distance to the north where there were still many big trees to cut up for lumber. But on that particular day the planer had been brought back from the sawmill, and there it was in the yard near the house.
That was a big machine with big cogwheels that meshed together to make the different parts move. Stanley, Harry and I couldn't resist the desire to examine the planer up close. We soon had our hands on the planer, especially on the big cog wheels that we could turn easily. If any of the grown-ups saw us there by the planer they didn't care because there was no way that we could damage the machine.
Harry put his left hand on the cogs of one big wheel and moved it downward quickly. The momentum of the wheel carried it farther than he had expected, down to where it meshed with another cog wheel. He didn't pull his hand away quickly enough, and the tip of his little finger got crushed.
Harry cried, the adults came out of the house, and soon they took him away to the hospital. The doctor amputated the the tip of his finger at the first joint.
We didn't see Harry for a couple of weeks. The next time we saw him his finger was shorter, but it was healed and he didn't have any more problems with it. The tip of the finger was tough, so from then on Harry got the habit of poking things with his short little finger. He especially liked to poke us in the ribs.
The Lost Coin
Moonlit evenings in summer occasioned some of the most pleasant fun times on the Grove farm. The perfect weather and the silvery light of the full moon inspired us to take some extra time to play before going to bed. Some of our sisters, especially the younger ones, would join Chester, Stanley, and me to play hide and seek, to roll down the gentle slope in front of the house, or to just sit on the grass and tell stories. It was better still if some friends would come too.
One evening Charlie Waters was there too, joining in all the fun. When he noticed that the quarter dollar coin that had been in his pocket was missing, he told the others that he had lost it, so we all got down on our hands and knees in the grass to try to find it. The moonlight was bright, but still not enough to reveal the coin down in the grass, so we just felt around for the coin.
I was the smallest person there that night, but I found the coin. Of course there was no special skill on my part. I simply felt the coin by accident. However, I was praised for the feat, and it made me feel good.