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Growing Up, La - Part 2

- - Chapter 2: Adult Responsibility (With Some Breaks) - -     

By ten years old, no weekends off, 
Or Saturday cartoons, 
Although I did have cash to spend, 
I felt my life in ruins.

I dusted cars in my dad's store, 
And cleaned its toilets too, 
I fixed truck tires as I got old, 
Not much I couldn't do.

A trip to two month summer camp, 	
I learned to shoot and sail, 
At twelve years old, a pioneer, 
Canoed explorer's trail.

Near tragedy on my return, 
My sister paralyzed, 
A late victim of polio, 
My conscience brutalized.

The washers, dryers, I repaired, 
And freezers with no chill, 
Then televisions came along, 
Tube testing my new skill.

Assembling new farm implements, 
And posting parts on hand, 
My driver's license opened doors, 
‘Collected bills' firsthand.

On Sundays we would go to church, 
To hear the preacher tell, 
Because my dad was not with us, 
His soul would burn in Hell.

Dad's Point of View-[]

[‘It's bad news when a preacher comes.'
‘They all want stuff for free.'
‘I have to feed my children too, '
‘I've problems they don't see.']

Three years of summer music camps, 
In Junior High reborn, 
I played piano in dance bands, 
Took lessons on French Horn.

Most summers were our busy time, 
We all worked hard till dusk, 
My ‘tail rung through a ringer, ' la, * 
The time for ‘smart mouth' brusque.
But then the job that I loved best, 
Flat tractor tires in field, 
A chance to meet a farmer's girl, 
The country's charm revealed.

One summer worked a cattle herd, 
Two thousand cows were planned, 	
By cutting, windrowing the grass, 
Our haystacks dotted land.

Dakota winters could be fierce, 
The temp forty below, 
The stacks were shelter from the wind, 
A shield from blinding snow.

We'd use a horse for round-up, la! * 
My God that was a thrill, 
Except for blisters on your ass, 
Or when you took a spill.

I had not ridden horses much, 
You're so far from the ground, 
The horse not knowing you from spit, 
Disdain can be profound! '
There's no time here for niceties, 
And work to do, ‘C'MON! '
If horse and you somehow part ways, 
No choice, you climb back on.

! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! More coming! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! 

Chapter 3: College Preparation

Chapter 4: Higher Education

And more possibly

Brian Johnston
August 20, 2014

Poet's Notes:
An auto-biographical look at family life in the MidWest divided into Chapters. This is a lot of work. I hope it is appreciated. New Chapters will be released as I complete them.

* When I was in the American Peace Corps in Africa we had a group of 7 surveying assistants that were always with us and that we became very close too. Their conversation was always sprinkled with 'La's.' I always thought it was kind of cute. Like they might say to me, 'Why don't we stop in this village for some food, la.' They used this work kind of like I use the word OK in polite conversation. 'You've got food in your teeth, la.' I always thought there was something charming about it.



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  1. Date: 8/20/2014 6:52:00 PM

    Read the first part and now this, it's really good story-telling. I feel like I'm getting to know your life..