Papa Said
Papa Said
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“I remembered Papa bringing me to the general store as a child. I could still see the potbellied stove with its chrome footrests on all sides, circled with old oak chairs where the old-timers sat exchanging stories and jokes. Well-used brass spittoons were strategically placed nearby. This was the gathering place for the farmers and old-timers in the area.

“Papa was the only educated veterinarian for miles around. He knew, when he went into the store, he would be giving free medical advice to anyone who asked. He didn’t mind until they tried to treat an animal themselves and waited until it was near death before calling him, expecting a miracle.”

“The storm intensified. The rain came down in sheets. The wind became a whirling, threatening monster, tearing at our little frame house. Lightning split the sky open, followed by loud claps of thunder. I was glad Papa was home. I was never afraid when he was there. I watched from the window, hoping to see Papa coming back. When lightning flashed, it lit up the whole yard and barn, and I could see Papa climbing the ladder of the windmill. The huge blades flopped wildly in the wind and I could hear the loose chain hit the metal framework. I was so frightened, I could scarcely breathe.”

Papa gathered all of us children together on the porch: Raymond age 8 1/2, Arthur 7, and Mabel 5. I was 3. In his most serious voice, Papa explained that one of our cows, White Legs, had just had a calf. Papa said, “White Legs is very protective of her baby and can be very dangerous. You are all to stay out of the pasture and away from that calf. Do you understand?”

Four voices answered in unison, “Yes, Papa.”

When Papa was well out of earshot, Raymond began, “That sure is a pretty calf. I saw it. It sure is cute. You guys should see it. It’s spotted black and white and it’s lying just inside the pasture gate. Do you wanna see it?”

Remembering Papa’s stern voice, I was the first to speak. “No, Papa said we shouldn’t, because White Legs is mean.”

“Aw, she’s clear on the other side of the pasture. She probably can’t even see that far. Besides, we could go in, pet the calf, and get out before she could get us.”

“But Papa said,” I persisted.

“’Papa said, Papa said,’ is that all you know? You sissies can sit here, but I’m going to pet that calf!” With that, Raymond jumped off the porch and headed for the pasture. One by one, we followed.

Raymond was right. Just inside the gate was a little black and white calf. One by one, we climbed over the gate and gathered around to pet the beautiful animal. Suddenly I realized I was by myself. The others had left. Looking up, I saw an angry White Legs racing across the pasture toward me with her head down. To this day, I don’t know how I got over that gate. I was running for the house as fast as my little legs would carry me. Looking back, I saw White Legs clear the gate, head down, and gaining on me.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, I saw Papa running toward me with a pitchfork in his hand with Shep beside him. He dashed between me and the angry cow, ready to bring her down if necessary. Shep did her job, nipping at the cow’s legs and barking. Papa didn’t have to use the pitchfork.

I don’t remember what Papa said to Raymond, but I am sure his actions spoke louder than words.

Winona Ruth Gunther, the fourth of twelve children, writes of her childhood memories in Papa Said. While raising two children, Ruth hosted a radio interview program and later became a Realtor. Retired, she lives in the home she shared with her late husband in Solana Beach, California, overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

I couldn't put this book down. Beautifully written - carries you away. It's educational and leaves you wanting more! Thank you Winona Ruth Gunther!
Charmaine Tam 

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