Back in the ‘60s and ‘70s when the world was less foreboding, kids could walk to and from school alone with little worry.
Walking to school in winter, however -- in the snow, snow, snow and cold, cold, cold of Minnesota -- could be challenging, as Mike learned one frosty afternoon on his way home from kindergarten.
I was visiting my sisters, Kay and Carolyn, Mike’s mom, in Bloomington -- on my way from college in California to home in Iowa to spend the holidays. That day I was at the Cox apartment eagerly waiting for Chris and Mike to get home from school. When Mike didn’t show at the expected time, Carolyn sent out the troops to look for him. I can’t recall who found him – Chris perhaps – stuck in a snow bank a few blocks away. Apparently the snow plow had piled the snow high along the curb and when Mike walked across the top of the snow bank, he sunk in – so far that he couldn’t get out! While in the snow bank trying to dig himself out, he discovered a treasure that he immediately gifted to me upon his safe return home.
I wore the pin every day that I was there. If I forgot to put it on, Mike reminded me. I still have it. While it cost the person who lost it in the snow bank pennies at most, it is priceless to me for the sweetest memories it brings.
Of course, we hugged and fawned over Mike (which he loved!) the rest of that afternoon. Talking about “being lost” and then “being found” seemed to energize him, in fact! Later I asked him if he was scared while trapped in the snow. His eyes lit up. “Why would I be scared?” he said in his high-pitched little boy voice. For Mike, life was an adventure!
* * * * * * * * * * * *
When Chris and Mike were toddlers they still lived in Dubuque. For whatever reason, there were some Sunday mornings they were at the Hardie house . . . and I would take them to church with me.
I LOVED taking them to church because I thought everyone there would think they were mine! (I was 16 or 17 at the time.) They were pretty cute with their curly heads and sweet smiles. What’s more, they were fairly well-behaved. (Hard to believe, I know, because later they so enjoyed getting on each other’s nerves!) Instead of picture books, crayons and treats that nowadays keep kids entertained while in church, Chris and Mike had none. It never dawned on me, I guess, to bring such things along. They seemed content perusing the songbooks and prayer books they found in the pew (pretty boring with only words and no pictures to look at). When that lost favor, they’d whisper to each other or just sit back and look around, captivating those nearby. I know this because more than once after church someone or other – usually older ladies – would stop and tell me, “What lovely little boys!”
Some of my happiest moments in life were being with my two nephews when they were young!