I hope this note finds you well.
As a child we lived on Gum Ridge Farm. Until I was four, the house we lived in had two rooms: a kitchen, and a front room that served as a living room and bedroom for the four of us. Around that time, Dad decided to add a bedroom, and a front and back porch. It seems that while they were building the extra room, my job was to find an unused tool and begin pounding away at a piece of scrap lumber.
For Christmas that year, Santa Claus brought me a tool kit, complete with a hammer, a saw, several screwdrivers, and a box of nails and screws. My mother told me later that she had never seen me happier than I was that early Christmas morning. Once I was dressed and had on my warm coat, I headed out the door with my new toolbox.
The first stop was Grandma’s house, about fifty yards away over two fence stiles and through the pigpen, to show her my new prized possession. While I was there, she fixed me cinnamon toast with extra sugar because it was Christmas.
Once my belly was full, I took off in search of a project worthy of my attention. I am not sure why my focus settled on the gate to the pigpen but it did. The small hand saw in the toolkit fit my hand just perfectly, and for an hour or so I worked as hard as I could at sawing through the slats in that gate.
For those of you who don’t know, pigs are a curious lot, and they gathered up on the other side of the gate watching as I sawed away at the door to their enclosure. When the last narrow plank fell, they realized that this was their chance. Thank goodness I was standing to the side because soon they rushed the opening and ran for their freedom.
Just as this little drama was unfolding, my mother walked onto the new front porch, quickly surmised the situation, began calling my father and came to my rescue. Soon, my father and little sister walked out of the house and surveyed what my saw and I had created.
As best I can remember, dad was muttering under his breath and certainly was not in a good mood, but he would have contend with me later. He then spent the rest of that Christmas morning rounding up the pigs. It really wasn’t that hard: the pigs knew where their food would be. Mainly, he only had to keep them close and not let them run off into the woods.
By the time the errant pigs were back in the pen and the gate was back in place, Dad had calmed down. He made me promise that I wouldn’t cut anything else down without telling him first. I do clearly remember that the next morning when I went to retrieve my toolkit, the saw was gone, and no one seemed to know where it had gone.
Have a good journey and stay safe.
Dr. Sam Taggart is a retired doctor/writer/marathon runner in practice in Benton for the last 45 years. He recently released Country Doctors of Arkansas, published by the Arkansas Times. His other books, The Public’s Health: A narrative history of health and disease in Arkansas, With a Heavy Heart and We All Hear Voices are available at your local booksellers or online at amazon.com.