Grandpa didn’t have far to go to holler “come on you kids lets go hay!” because we lived upstairs in his house and had for several years during the war years of the early 1940’s.

We scrambled down the stairs and out into the hot July sunshine.  Haying meant we would all have a turn riding Old Larry as he pulled the hay wagon.  This year was special because Grandpa had said I was big enough to ride Old Larry.

We watched as Grampa harnessed up Old Larry with his thick black leather straps that curved around the old horse’s belly and down his back to the hay wagon.  The connecting rings made a jingle jangle sound as Old Larry pulled against the harness to move the hay wagon out to the field. The hay was stacked in mounds wide on the bottom and narrow on the top resembling giant dunce caps. 

Old Larry stopped at the first mound and Grandpa grabbed me under the arms  and heaved me up onto the waiting horse. I had never been this high up on his back before, my bare legs stretched to reach either side of his rounded back.  My feet tipped slightly over the edge on each bulging side and I dug my toes deep into the stiff hair to keep from sliding off my high perch. Grampa shouted “now keep him going in a straight line to the next hay stack”.  

I turned on my lofty roost and waited as Donna and Rita jumped up and down on the hay after Grandpa and Doug raised their pitchforks and heaved the hay onto the hay wagon.  The girls laughed as pieces of hay clung to their curly hair and chaff slid down their sweaty faces. 

Now, it was my turn, I had been waiting for this moment my whole life!   I kicked both heels into the broad span of Old Larry. He didn’t move, I bounced up and down while pounding my feet into his unyielding girth.  He shifted his feet from side to side but did not move forward. Grampa growled and impatiently slapped his rump and off we went. I grasped the reins to keep from sliding down into the prickly grass stubbles, as his massive back swayed from side to side. 

In my desperation to stay on top I pulled up tight on the reins causing Old Larry to do a Gee or Haw and slowly he turned himself almost completely around eventually facing the red face of Grampa as he leaped up and down in a fit of rage. My glory day had come to an abrupt end as I was banished to the sweaty task of jumping up and down in the scratchy hay.

Later that day I heard Grandpa laughing as he told mom how I had jackknifed the hay wagon.



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