My brother, Les, seems to have inherited my Grandpa Harmon’s sense of humor. (I wrote about Grandpa yesterday.) Les and I were second and third of four kids, and we played together a lot growing up. Sometimes older brother, Joe would play along too, especially if it involved playing a trick on the girls.
When my dad ran a dairy farm, my brothers would play with the cows. They would sit on their favorite cow (they always had a favorite one) and crank the tail to make it go.
I was very little then, and the cows seemed like huge monsters to me. However, one summer day my brothers talked me into playing bucking bronco on one of the calves. They tied a rope to it and led it to our backyard. It took a bit of convincing for me to mount the calf and hold on. In microseconds I landed on the ground with a bruised ego and a sore butt.
Another favorite trick the boys would play is to tell us there was a horse in the barn. Being raised on a farm, we always wanted a horse to ride. They lured me to the barn more than once as they both kept a straight face and said, “No lie! There’s a horse out there.” We did indeed get a couple of horses a few years later, and we were still young enough to enjoy playing cowboys and Indians on real horses.
I seem to remember a few times touching the electric fence when I was told it was off, but the most outrageous story is when Les and I were sitting in the mulberry tree behind the house. “The berries with the white stuff on them are the best, ” Les lied. I took the bait and ate a few before he laughed and explained the white stuff was bird poop.
As an adult, Les perfected his tricks and unleashed them on the next generation. Les is known for growing the best sweetcorn in the area. In the summer time, as soon as the corn was high enough, he would have a bonfire and play a game he called, Corn Monster. He dressed in black and went out in the cornfield to lay in wait for the kids. He would chase them around in the dark, grabbing whoever was too slow to get away. My kids loved this. If we went to Michigan for summer vacation before the corn was tall enough to play Corn Monster, they were disappointed.
One time when some friends were visiting from Virginia, Les took the boy out hunting. He explained how you could tell how long ago the deer had been there. To the boy’s surprise, Les picked up some deer droppings and ate them. “Yup, these are fresh. The deer were just here.”
Les explained to the kid later. The deer “droppings” were raisins that he’d left there earlier.
We spent many Christmases with our family in Michigan, but if we couldn’t go, Les managed to send a few unique presents to the kids. One year he sent a package of “donut seeds” (Cheerios) complete with instructions on how to grow powdered donuts, cinnamon, or plain. Another time he sent a package of styrofoam peanuts and called it snowman poop.
Les and my sister-in-law, Marcia visited us in Florida when our son, Stephen was a senior. Les showed up at my door wearing a hat with stringy hair coming out the bottom. When I invited him in, he flashed a wide grin sporting a set of Billy Bob teeth.
Since Les was our son’s mentor in hunting and playing tricks, he brought Stephen his own pair of the ugly, fake teeth. What Stephen did with them is another story. Read tomorrow’s blog to find out what happened.