Posted By: Nancy Doggett Tate (email)
Date: 6/8/2008 at 13:07:20
This memoir was written to show my grandchildren
that I had also been a teenager.
Most of it is true.
Kaye with an E
We moved away from Ames when I was 16. Our new home was a Fishing Resort, in the wilderness, 17 miles north of Bemidji, Minnesota.
"Ruth, I found this place. Let's go look at it." Daddy said.
Mom loved her house and didn't want to leave but she knew Daddy had never really liked Ames. He felt he was not good enough. He was retired from the Iowa Highway Commission, did not have enough to do and loved to fish. He was also, some what, disabled so could not get another job. But, Mama loved Daddy and wanted him to be happy.
"OK, I have some vacation. When do you want to go?"
The trip was planned and they bought the place. I was really excited. I loved new adventures. This was going to be my "Little House in the Big Woods".
The house was a ninety seven year old log cabin. It was beautiful. The outside was stained barn red and the inside, varnished gold. In addition, there were 6 cabins, 6 boats and 6 motors. and seven outhouses.
It was situated on 54 acres of birch trees across the road from the Chippewa National Forest. The lake was full of fish and we had one of two sandy beaches that were on the lake. The woods were full of deer, bear, fox and bobcat. In the fall, the trees created a golden tunnel to drive through.
Everything grew bigger there. One potato could feed a family of six, the gladiolus were as big as orchids. I fell in love the first time I saw it.
We moved in October but by December, Mom and Dad knew we would be broke if we did not go back to Iowa. Daddy's retirement income was not enough to sustain us. The deer hunters did not stay as there was no snow to track the deer, so that income was nonexistent. Mom could work anywhere but 17 miles to town was just too far when the snow began to come down; it was up to your kneecaps and ice was on the roads.
Getting back to Iowa was easy compared to finding a place to live. We stayed with Daddy's sister, Aunt Ruby as Mom and Dad scoured, first the town then the county for a house.
They finally found a tenant house on a farm about 20 miles from Ames. The farmer's house was big and beautiful. It was furnished tastefully. On the other hand, the tenant house was 4 rooms and a "path".
We moved in January 1st, 1957. Since we had left our furniture at the resort, we had to scrounge around for furniture. Boy, talk about being poor but I was in heaven. I was on a farm.
We finally got set up in the house and it was time to start school.
I could tell that after going to schools, Ames High and Bemidji High, with senior classes of 600 or more, a school that had a Senior Class of 11 was going to be different.
But that was not where the real difference came into my life. The big difference was Kaye.
Kaye spelled with an E. Ohhh, I could scarcely breathe. I was in love, instantly.
He was 20, handsome, blond, blue eyes and a contagious smile. He was just enough taller than I was, to make it acceptable. He was going to be starting pre-med at Iowa State College, in the fall. Handsome and a doctor, this was almost too much to take in.
He had arrived home from the Army the day we moved in. I did not even think about the fact that he might, already have a girlfriend or that he might have left his true love behind in Germany. I just knew this had to be fate. I had to make him fall in love with me.
As soon as I got home from school, I would change clothes and head for the barn. The excuse was to play with the new kittens or talk to Lady, the horse, but the real reason was a chance meeting with Kaye.
I would go to the loft with a book. Understand, I could have read the book at our house, but Kaye would not have happened on the scene.
"What are you reading", he said.
"Cherry Ames, Flight Nurse", I replied
"You should be reading the great books, like Magnificent Obsession."
I checked it out at the library. I made sure he saw me reading it.
While waiting for his college classes to start, he helped his dad, with the farm. I helped too. I gathered eggs and exercised the horse. Lady was a gentle horse and I loved her.
I was beneath Kaye socially, but I would not let him know I knew this and I would learn. In the meantime, I had to find an excuse to cook for him. He knew I could read, ride a horse and gather eggs but he had to know I could cook too.
I kept hoping that someday he would sit down beside me. What more romantic place than sitting close beside each other on the soft, warm hay. We would discuss whatever book I was reading and then move closer together. His arms would reach around me and..... "I see you got the book", he said." His voice woke me from my fantasy.
Kaye's step-mother, (his mother had died) could see right through me. She also knew I did not have a lot of supervision. Mom was working 3 to 11 in Des Moines, 15 miles away. Daddy would go to Ames every day to see if he could find a little work. He was usually home in the evening, but there were those hours, in between, that my brothers and I were alone.
One day, when I was bringing the eggs to the big house, Alice said to me, "You know, Nancy, you might want to be careful around Kaye. He has experience." I don't think I really knew what she meant. But I told her I would be careful.
I did know how babies were made, but I knew I had nothing to fear from Kaye. At this point I was not sure he even knew I was more than just a little kid. Even if that kid was hanging around him with her tongue hanging out.
One day, Kaye said, "How would you and your brothers like to help me burn the trash in the field. We can take hot dogs and roast them"
Was this a date? Probably not, since you don't take your little brothers on a date.
"I would love to," I said.
”Good let's go. I have the hot dogs, buns and marshmallows.”
I will get some pickles, ketchup and mustard."
We got in his dad’s 1924 Model T and started out. It was just beginning to get dark.
What a good time we had. Kaye lighted the pile of brush while I kept trying to think of ways to make my brothers, Tom and David, disappear.
Kaye and I sitting, in the blackness of night, before the roaring fire, eating our hot dogs and getting all sticky from the melting marshmallows. He wet his finger, leaned over, and wiped the sticky from my chin. He leaned closer and closer and..... David said, "I sure love roasting marshmallows." Tom agreed with him.
We finished eating and then headed back to the farm.
By this time it was dark and Kaye discovered that the head lights did not work. He drove on the wrong side of the road so he could look out of the side of the car and see where the road ended and the grass started.
Because he was looking down, he was not pay attention to what he was doing with the steering wheel. All of a sudden we were in the ditch. I was pretty scared. Too scared to think to grab him around the neck. I did not know how we were going to get out. Kaye said not to worry, and drove right out at the next lane that went into the field.
A few days later, Kaye said, "I am going to Ames to the library, would you like to go along."
Would I? You bet. Is this a date? I wondered. At least he did not invite Tom and David this time.
We got into his 1957 Ford Victoria and started out. He took country roads and would go around the corners quite fast. After the second turn he said, "Boy, you did not even slide over."
My heart beat faster.
"Well, I probably would have if you did not have those books in the seat."
He took the books and put them in the back seat. It did not take but a second for me to slide over. This was a real date. My heart was grinning. I was so intoxicated by his nearness, I could not speak.
We drove in silence, just listening to the radio playing Pat Boone, "Love Letters in the Sand”, and Elvis Presley singing "Love Me Tender”.
At the library he went his way, and I tried to look busy. He had no clue I had no reason to be there. I did find a book to check out and when he was done, we started home.
He opened the car door for me, on the drivers side, so I would not sit all the way over on the passengers side. I knew what he was doing and was thrilled.
When we got home we started talking about the Pat Boone and Elvis.
I said, "I like Pat much better."
"But Elvis is the King". We were talking as we walked from the garage to the house. He reached out and took my hand. I froze inside. This was what I had been waiting for. I didn't want to do anything to stop this heaven I was in. I did not say another word. I was suspended in space. I was not even aware that we had reached the house.
The silence and the spell were broken at the same time. "The chicks are about to hatch. You will have to see this."
All of a sudden I was back in the driveway by the house.
"I will keep checking," I replied.
He went to his house and I, to mine. The spell of the evening was gone but the memory never left.
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