Cindi in the pony cart with GrandpaThe other day I drove by a pasture where ponies were grazing. My heart went back to my childhood as I wondered what stories these ponies had to tell. Do they willing let young riders hop upon their backs? Were they like some of the ponies my Grandfather kept?
Most times there were two or three ponies in residence. They had names like Candy, Sugar Babe, and Trudy. First we would help water, feed and curry the ponies. Most Sundays Grandpa would saddle up a couple of ponies. We kids would take turns riding beside him all around the neighborhood. Other times he would hitch a pony to a two seated sulky cart. Perhaps it was not a two seated cart but one big enough for a small kids and a small grandpa. That was the most fun of all; all the pleasure of being with Grandpa and none of the challenges of riding.
Maybe it was me or maybe it was the fact that ponies naturally have a mean disposition, but seldom did I ride without some pony trying to nip me in the leg or balk at where I wanted to ride.
One summer Trudy was pastured at our farm. I rode her bare back occasionally. Once while I was riding her, she took off running. She ran right up to a fence. Stopped quickly and with that I went flying over her head into the hog lot. I do not recall if I ever rode her again without Grandpa along but I do know I never liked that pony from that day forward.
What was the most fun was when Grandpa would put on his one man pony show. I know Grandma did not approve of his show riding. Yet a couple of times each year he would thrill us kids with a show. Perhaps he only did it while Grandma was not at home. This little man would ride standing up on the pony, ride backwards and best of all do the under the belly trick. That trick most likely has a proper name but is unknown to me. Grandpa would go from sitting upright to moving around the belly of the pony to sitting upright all the while the pony was racing around in a circle. He was our own personal circus performer. I had a Grandpa who created wonderful fun memories.
My Grandfather was never a big man, yet I did not realize that until long after I became an adult. That is because we, his grand-kids, saw him as a man who shared so much of himself that he just had to be big. One of my earliest memories is of sitting on his lap while Grandpa sat cross legged on the floor. As a Grandma myself, I now know that only the limber and accommodating can accomplish that task. While on his lap he did the Swedish version of three little pigs while wiggling my toes. Tommy Toot, Slicky Put, Stiry Mon, Little Hon, and Little Vicky Vinnie.
He and Grandma took their crew of Grandchildren camping several summers in of my youth. Some kids enjoyed cabins by the lake and others went to the faraway places. We went to state parks, camping in tents, with our grandparents. Being the oldest Grandchild, I had the privilege of going alone one or two years. There were thirteen of us in all and I think eleven of us went together one year.
One time, we pulled into a cabin area while lost in the state park looking for the camp ground. Grandpa asked for direction. When he returned to the cars, he laughed with Grandma about the way the man giving directions had shook his head in disbelief at our caravan. We traveled in an old green Dodge and a slightly newer station wagon piled with kids and camping equipment. Kids from a family were split up so if either car was involved in an accident some from that house hold would be spared.
Almost weekly our family made a Sunday visit to Grandma and Grandpa. They lived on the outskirts of town on a couple of acres. Today when I drive by the house and yard the place looks small and a bit run down. We helped grandpa pump the outside cistern pump, played on the swing set bought new for the grand-kids and picked berries along the path to the pony shed. In summer we spent countless hours riding the ponies. The distance between the house and pony shed now seems rather close compared to my childhood memories.
Grandpa was born to Swedish immigrant parents in the town of Munterville, Iowa on April 22, 1906. From what my father recalls his Grandfather was a stern man. Most likely he had a hard life. It is almost certain the reason he left Sweden was because he wanted more from life than what could be had in his home country. One of the few pictures of his wife shows a happy person. It is said that her family did not approve of him as they were a family of means. No one knows the story of their courtship but family lore has it that the reason he changed his name was because there were others with the name of Andreasson in the area and he did not like their getting his love letters. The flu epidemic of 1918 took her life. Dad states that his father recalls seeing his Mother walk home across a field a dusk from helping neighbors who had the flu. The next morning she died. I suspect he got his personality from her as he was our fun Grandpa.
Grandma, Grandpa, myself, Mom, Dad
Great Grandma and Grandpa Cox
My High School Graduation