My mom and dad both made it into Readers Digest Life in These United States. It was a collection of funny and sometimes heartwarming anecdotes about life in America.
The first time my parents were in the magazine was in 1973. The Ben Davis Giants and Decatur Central Hawks played Indiana’s first high school overtime football game. Decatur scored first in OT. My dad was a ball player, and that’s what he taught his two boys. My brother excelled, especially at baseball and football. He made the all-county football team during his senior high school year. I might miss a fly ball in centerfield while watching a caterpillar. Squirrel.
Ben Davis had the opportunity to match the score. They were inside the twenty and appeared ready to score when my little brother playing defensive tackle, sacked the quarterback forced a fumble, recovered the ball, and finished the game. My father started, whooping from the stands and telling everyone, “That’s my son, that’s my son!” He turned to the person beside him and repeated, “That’s my son!” To which the other person replied, “I know he’s my son too.”
More Life in these United States
Years later, my mom and her second husband built cabins on the Patoka River (It’s more like a creek). Jerry, my stepfather, had owned 40 acres with a 5-acre pond near Youngs Creek, Indiana, south of Paoli, as long as I had known him. It had a small cabin facing the pond, which I spent many nights enjoying.
When Jerry retired, they decided to build cabins to rent on the property. There were five and one larger building for events and parties. Mom and Jerry hired local Amish builders to construct the wood-sided rustic cabins. They were two-bedroom, one-bath cabins. Each had a small living space, a fully furnished kitchen, and a wood-decked, roofed front porch.
After the cabins were built and rented, I sometimes stayed in the cabins but often camped on the grounds. I spent every 4th of July putting on a fireworks show and camping out by the pond. It was one of my favorite places to visit.
They rented the cabins by night or week and did good business during hunting and skiing seasons.
Mom and Jerry had two complaints about how some guests used the porch. First, guests would set up a grill on the all-wood porch. Mom or Jerry would go to them and politely ask them to move the grill to the ground away from the wooden cabins to avoid the chance of fire.
The second was that guests would often bring pets, which was allowed, but they would feed them on the porch and leave a mess that permanently stained the wood floors.
So, Mom made a list of rules that were handed out upon arrival and posted in each cabin. There were eight rules, including my favorite, which made it into the Reader’s Digest. “Do not cook or feed pets on the porch.” No one grilled a dog on the porch after that.
It Didn’t Make Life in These United States, but…
There’s another one that should’ve been submitted but wasn’t. My brother, the all-county football player, turned down opportunities to play collegiate ball. He wanted to concentrate on academics. He attended and graduated from the University of Evansville. Eventually, he joined the cheerleading squad, something he’d never done. However, he was an athlete. He could tumble end-over-end across the court and easily held, threw, and caught female cheerleaders.
My dad and I attended an Evansville basketball game at Indiana Central College (now Uindy), where my brother cheered. As we watched my brother do his gymnastics, my dad almost to himself said, “I’ve waited 20 years to see one of my children participate in college athletics. This isn’t what I expected.”