Mike Buys A Wild Horse 33,67,68,69

Ever since his accident, Mike dreamed of owning a horse drawn carriage. That dream came closer to reality one day in May when several “real” cowboys on horseback came through Morea with 15 wild horses. It had been a dry spring and the dust stirred by this unruly gathering could be seen for miles.

A crowd gathered mostly of dirty-faced, curious and noised boys and young adults, all anxious to see the cowboys from “Montana”. The more cautious mothers with their babies and toddlers kept to their porches. Some preferred to view the happenings from the safety of their second floor windows.

From this tornadic group Mike and Marty chose a young chestnut- colored stallion. He was beautiful, but definitely wild. We had never seen an animal of such magnitude speed and terror.

With the help of the cowboys, Mike and Marty led the unwilling horse to a small shanty in the back yard that would serve as temporary housing. It goes without saying that he was not a happy boarder and let us know of his displeasure by kicking on the sides of the shanty, with piercing, braying noises.

Alex, my second eldest brothers would have nothing to do with their purchase. He shook his head scowling, “ Listen to him. He's wild like the devil. No good will come of this- just wait and see. He's mean, he'll kill you.” The fact that come dusk his chestnut coat looked more black than brown and his eyes had a yellow glow did nothing to assuage his fears.

Mike named him Jimmie Allen after an old friend of his whom he considered to be full-spirited and stubborn. We shortened his name to Jimmie. Alex continued to call him ''the devil”, and Ma refered to him as ''the wild one”.

The day after his arrival, Mike set about building a fenced-in enclosure. Jimmie would need to exercise. This was squared and stretched out on either side of the shanty ending just thirty feet from our back porch. One could only enter the enclosure from the back door of the shanty. When first released into this area Jimmie began to kick with his hind legs on the side of the shanty and the more vulnerable time-worn door--which we kids (from the other side) held onto with all our might.

Mike managed to tease him away from the side of the shanty with apples and oats. The door was finally barricaded for the night. The following evening when the men returned from works, they hung a new reinforced door- which Jimmie continued to test.

That wasn't Mike's only problem. The enclosed area included Ma's flower bed and the stone walled planter of zinnias. Pa had fashioned this by partially dismantling an old outside oven which belonged to the prior residents.

Now Jimmie didn't share Ma's eye for beauty. All her lovely flowers were soon trampled to the ground. With one leap he ascended the planter and stomped on the flowers until nothing vas left but organic confetti.

Ma found it hard to conceal her frustration. “The wild one has destroyed everything that has beauty the vegetable garden, the flowers and even the zinnias.”

“Not everything.”, added grandmother, “The good Lord has given us many blessings. He is a proud horse and smart. Wait and see. He will be a fine animal.”

Pa was as enthusiasts about our new boarder as Ma-- more so since he was closest to Ma's grief.

A month had passed and the conversation in our family still centered around Jimmie. Actually the whole neighborhood was talking about Jimmie. And what they had to say was not pleasant. Ma was truly embarrassed.

Pa broke the ice one evening, “Mike, you and Marty are the ones who decided to buy the horse. He's a beautiful animal but he's wild and he's done a lot of damage. We have to do something about your Ma's flowers. she's very upset!”

Mike agreed, “It won't be a problem. Marty and I can mark off another flower bed and vegetable garden. We Just need to redo the yard, and I'm sure the girls will be glad to help.”

How could we refuse!

''Count me out'' quipped Alex in his ''I-told-you-so'' mode. ''I told you he'd be nothing but trouble!''

The following week Mike and Marty dug up the dirt along the side of the shanty, and on all sides of the enclosure that faced our back porch. Rocks were carried down from the hills to outline the flower and vegetable gardens.

Hollyhocks were popular in the patches. We planted them in the back of the flower bed facing the porch. They would grow very tall and produce a kaleidoscope of brilliant color through most of the summer. The contrast between the stark gray black background of of the wooden patch houses and these colorful flowers never ceased to excite me.

Mike knew my mother liked lilac bushes, and he purchased two large bushes in full bloom. These also were planted along the side of the enclosure- offering a sea of purple and lavender dappled with sunlight and stirred by the breathy-air of spring. The scent of lilacs perfumed the air and delighted our senses for weeks.

One of our neighbors gave us two rooted pieces of her rambling rose bush. Margaret, Granny and I dug up and planted wild daises, buttercups and violets which were plentiful in the hills and ravines of Pennsylvania. Within two months and thanks to ample rain, Ma had a flower bed and garden to rival her neighbors.

None of us kids would go near Jimmie Allen--even on a dare. We feared for our lives. Notwithstanding, Jimmie had to be fed. Since the men in the family had to work in the mines, the task of feeding him was ours. Mike fixed us a long pole. He drove a spike into one end. After his feed pall was filled with oats, it was tied with rope to the spike. Although my younger sisters would help fill the pale, the burden of feeding him was mine.

It was some time before I was adept enough to extend the somewhat heavy and definitely awkward pole with pail over the fence. No sooner had I accomplished this when Jimmie Allen would knock over the pole and pail spilling it's contents all over the forbidding enclosure. Several weeks passed before I was able to hold on to and retrieve the pole and pail--minus it's contents..I'm sure Jimmie must have eaten a peck of dirt. “serves him right”, I thought. My patience had become threadbare.