school day in Spunky
Flat was an adventure of sorts. It started and ended with a three and a half
mile walk on a gravel road. Sam and I lived the farthest from Eureka School, so
we always had the road to ourselves at the start. On the way other students would
join us until we had quite a little bunch as we neared the school. Just about
this time, an old Model T ford would pass us. Alma and her father. We grumbled
among ourselves about how unfair it was, her getting to ride all the way while
we had to hot foot it. We thought it only fair that he stop and give us a ride,
but he never did. The fact that he couldn’t possibly get us all into that old
car never occurred to us. At school Alma never spoke to anyone, as far as I can
remember. We all took her to be a real snob. Her family had the only telephone
in Spunky Flat, and that was even more grounds for envy. Their house was just
across the main road from our farm, but throughout all those years, we never visited
each other. Every time we walked by their house, we wondered what it looked like
on the inside. The mystery remained for the rest of our time in Spunky Flat.
- second from the right in the third row.
Penny - bottom row on the extreme
George - second row from the bottom, fifth from the left.
years after leaving there, I met and later married Penny, who had attended Eureka
at the same time I had. We had a lot of catching up to do. While reminiscing about
mutual schoolmates, Alma’s name came up. I learned that we had grossly misjudged
her. She and Penny had become fast friends. After graduating from Eureka and advancing
to high school in Marlin, Penny rode
with Alma and her father each day. When Alma was asked to read before the class,
she would freeze up and cry. She was not a snob. She was just extremely shy, and
idle conversation was almost impossible for her until she became close to someone.
Recently Penny and I returned to Spunky Flat to relive childhood memories.
No buildings remained on either of our farms. Nothing looked familiar anymore,
just empty flat land where once there had been bustling family activity.
"It resembled a barn more than a place that had
once known the joy of family life."
As we started to leave, I looked across the road to where Alma used to live. Her
house was still there. Their farm, like all the rest in Spunky Flat had long since
been turned into grazing land by a local cattleman. I parked at the gate and sat
there wondering if, after all these years, I should get a close-up look at Alma’s
house. Unable to resist the temptation, I climbed over the locked gate and walked
the several hundred yards across the muddy field. I could see that no one had
lived there for a long time. The windows were boarded up, and the once shingled
roof had been replaced with corrugated tin. It resembled a barn more than a place
that had once known the joy of family life. I tried the front door; it was locked.
When I went to the back, I noticed a door slightly ajar. I pushed it open and
entered that domain I dreamed of seeing so many years ago. With the blocked windows
it took my eyes a while to adjust. When things started to appear in the dim light,
the first thing I noticed was modern wall paneling. There had once been wall-to-wall
carpeting, but only the padding remained. The more I could see, the more amazed
I became. Except for the cobwebs and dust, it looked as if someone had just moved
out. The stark contrast to the weather-beaten exterior was eerie. I suddenly got
the feeling that I was intruding on someone’s treasured home. It was almost as
if I were being told to get out. Now! I walked to the door and turned around to
have one last look. Then I saw it. There hanging on the wall was an old telephone.
I had the overwhelming desire to pick up the receiver to see if there was a dial
"I had the overwhelming desire to pick up the receiver
to see if there was a dial tone. "