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The Gardens and The Browns

Many people in Curryville had gardens. Our garden was vast. A board walk divided the side that had the smaller vegetables from the side with the hardier vegetables like corn, pumpkins and potatoes. One of my jobs was to weed and hoe that large garden.

Mr. Brown, whose garden was on the other side of our fence, would tell me how our garden was doing. He and I knew he was a garden expert. He loaned me his potato fork to use when it was time to dig the potatoes. A regular spade could cut the potatoes in pieces. We knew how to use the dirt wisely by planting the squash with the corn. Mother had a few rows of beautiful flowers along the board walk and behind that she had celery and sweet potatoes in tall mounds. We ate good food and learned how well we would be rewarded for taking good care of the garden.

At the end of the garden was a chicken coop. My older brother, Dean, raised Capon chickens there the years he was in 4-H. In front of the chicken coop was the outhouse. The school had an outhouse, but I believe we were the only residence in Curryville that had an outhouse. We planted caster beans to try to hide it. We imagined that caster beans looked like palm trees. I tried my best to time my visits to the outhouse when the men weren’t gassing up their trucks at the Farm Bureau. Sometimes they would whistle when I was working in the garden and so I knew they watched me. I was quite self-conscious about those visits. I even gave God permission to stay outside. You see, I was taught that God was always with me, and I knew it.

Mrs. Brown liked to have me walk with her through their beautiful garden. One day she showed me how the snap dragons could be pinched open and shut like a mouth and she would have them say things to me. She invited me in to her kitchen often. She made the communion bread for our Love Feasts at the church. We often sat in her kitchen eating that fresh out-of-the-oven communion bread. I knew it was a treat that few beside she and I had. The Browns often gave us a chicken, which they said had a broken leg or something wrong with it. They made it sound like we were doing them a favor if we took it. I now wonder if maybe they just made up those chicken handicaps just because they thought it was time for us to have chicken. Sara put the chicken in a large basin for me to carry home. It would still be jumping around even though its head was cut off.

Dan and Sara Brown had daughters, Dorothy and Edith. Dorothy came over to visit us one day after returning from missionary service in India. I do not remember the stories she told, but after listening to her, I knew with my whole being that I would one day be a missionary..…. and I was.


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