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Rounding Third and Headed for Home
Memories and Reflections
byJohn M. Rozeboom
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Farming activities surrounded my young life, but in the midst of it all I exercised my imagination. At age five I received a long prized Christmas gift, a 2’ high and 3’ long hip- roofed red barn which my dad spent a lot of late evenings constructing; it led to hours of delightful play for this little farmer with his little cows, horses, and tractors. In my very free early grade school days I loved to “pretend farm.” Imitating Shorty, a neighbor’s hired man, I wore a straw hat and rolled up some paper for a cigarette as I gathered grass clippings along the road in my wagon to bring to my “silo,” a 50-gallon drum. Often when Dad milked his cows, I “milked” my mine, 4’ long and 4” wide boards with four appropriately placed nails for teats about 2/3’s the way down; I leaned my “cows” against a wall so they could be properly washed, milked, and salved. For sister “Pooky” and two neighbor girls, Janet and Monie Bierlink about the same age, I served very cheerfully as a benevolent dictator orchestrating our child play. I guess my gifts of administration and organization were getting a start already as a youngster.
As a little chap I could see that Mom was fascinated with words. And her reading in our living room stirred my imagination. From the tearful story of Beautiful Joe that she read to me as I curled up next to her on the couch, I still can visualize that poor, abused dog with his ears chopped off by his merciless master, Mr. Jenkins. Over and over we read together Black Beauty, a majestic horse story. Mom also helped me memorize, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want” from Psalm 23: 1 (KJV) as well as some other psalms. Her reading times certainly spurred on my imagination and love of words.
In the barn I hung on every word of Dad’s concocted stories that he shared with me while we were milking. But the stories of Sergeant Preston and his dog King sometimes interrupted the flow of my barn chores as I crowded by the barn radio to hear an exciting part of a story. In grade school I enjoyed reading about the pursuits of the Hardy boys and the Sugar Creek Gang. Toward the end of my grade school experience I checked out from the public library in Sumas and read a lot of rough, tough cowboy stories. These stories led to my own concoction of a gang led by Knife Gunnison; I pretended to be Knife as I carried my bb gun around the farm. I had drawn a picture of each bearded member of the gang.
My entry into the sports world occurred at age nine when I purchased my first baseball glove, a $3.95 Sears Roebuck “gem.” Oh, the rich smell of its leather! Soon I was creating players for imaginary football, basketball, and baseball teams and games. Even to this day I recall the names of a couple of those players – quick little lefty Chuck Evans and big righty Buck Brill. In 1953 at age 11 I got my first package of baseball cards with some stiff pink bubble gum tucked inside. One of my first packs contained a card of the Brooklyn Dodgers’ centerfielder Duke Snider (affectionately pronounced “Dook” in Brooklyn-ese as he was called the Duke of Flatbush, an area in Brooklyn by Ebbets Field, where he hit many of his 40 or more homers in five consecutive seasons). That started my long allegiance to the Dodgers and lots of games I concocted as I pretended to be Dodger players in games, or out on the tractor broadcasting an imaginary Dodger game while clipping thistles in the pasture. And since I have given all my eight grandchildren a pet name, five-year old Caden is now my “Dookie.” How rich reading and playing was, is, and can be!
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About the Book
See how family, faith, and fun finds its way into the life of the author.
About the Author
John M. Rozeboom was raised by wonderful parents on a country farm, educated in Christian schools, taught/coached for 42 years in two private high schools, and collected a bevy of experiences before his retirement in 2006. This is his story.