As I’ve said before, I was raised with three brothers – and four young boys can find many ways to get into trouble.
Believe me, we found them.
One year, we decided we would build two things: a two-wheeled buggy for summer and a big bobsled for winter.
We had two Shetland ponies to pull them named Jim and Trixie. Jim was ornery than sin. Trixie just wanted to run anywhere at any time. Trixie didn’t want to be caught. She would run full speed at us, then veer off just before she ran over us. We got my little brother to grab her by the neck and hang on till she would stop. Sounds terrible, but it worked.
Well, we built the buggy first. It looked great. We hooked the ponies up, loaded all my cousins in, all us boys jumped in and off we went at full speed – horses, buggy and kids.
Well, everything went great for a while. Then suddenly one wheel was going down the road out ahead of us. The buggy hit the ground, scaring the ponies, then buggy, kids and horses hit the ditch.
The amazing thing through all this was our mother never died of fright.
After we got all patched up, we started to build the bobsled. Through all the bandages, bruises and blood, we never gave up. But looking back at it, I am sure my mother must have given up many times.
The sled was 12 feet long. We used runners we made from two-by-six oak, then we put metal on the bottom of them. We used an old car steering wheel.
Then we had to wait for snow, and in Minnesota you know when it’s coming – soon.
We hooked up the ponies, loaded in my cousins. All us boys jumped in and nothing happened. The ponies could not pull it.
As I said, we never give up. We had an old 1929 Model A. We hooked the sled up to the car, loaded in my cousins, two of my brothers and me. My oldest brother drove the car. Down the road we went.
Well, he went a little too fast. It was slippery. Yes, car, sled and kids all landed in the ditch. Car was on its side; kids were all over the ditch, up on the bank and in the fence.
Back to the bandages, but this time mother had to do some sewing on kids, not on cloth.
In those days, we didn’t go to a doctor very often. Mother was our doctor.
I was hurt the worst in the wreck. Somehow my foot had hit a rotten, old fence post. Pieces of it were lodged in my foot and I got a bad infection.
My dad and oldest brother held me down, while my mother cut it open with a razer blade and took all the old wood out. Yes, it hurt like hell.
Thanks to my mother, we all grew up. I am sure without her, we never would have made it.
A storyteller, John Zentz, 87, will share a blend of fact and fiction in his bimonthly column. Some tales he’s lived through, some he’s been told. Zentz and his family are longtime Hubbard County residents. He has a picture of his grandmother and grandfather, seven times removed, sitting on a porch in Park Rapids.