The Keepers of Our Childhood
by Annie Shady
Annie the tomboy, Grandaddy and my new foal!
The Keepers of Our Childhood
Growing up in rural Alabama in the early 1960s it was not uncommon for one of us three grandchildren to ride Molly, the Shetland pony Grandpa had bought just for us little kids, straight into downtown and "park" her right up front at the Piggly Wiggly. Don't worry...we made sure she was properly hitched to the parking meter, and occasionally we'd put a nickel in for good measure, just long enough to go in and see how much penny candy we could each get for our respective dimes.
This didn't always go over well with Mr. Hall, the owner. I seem to recall our riding back to Grandmother's house, only to walk in to hear her in a heated discussion with Mr. Hall over the phone.
Apparently he did not appreciate our parking Molly in one of the coveted spots right splat in front of the entrance during his Fourth of July blowout sale that he'd paid good money advertising for weeks.
That, and possibly because at some point Molly had...well, made a little splat of her own while waiting on us. Being 9,8,and 6 at the time, and caught off guard by this unfortunate faux pas, we'd thought it best to just go home and hope no one else had noticed.
They noticed. When it was brought to his attention, Mr. Hall had threatened all but death to us for the unfortunate call of equine nature, then decided to call our Grandma. By the sound of her voice we could only hope that our impending deaths would be swift and painless. To our great surprise we lived to see another day.
But here's the really good part.
Our grandma, who by the way, we lost at 98 this August, loved us more than anything. Grandaddy was county sheriff until I was at least 10, and trained Tennessee Walkers like the rest of my uncles do to this day, and he also loved us and would stand up for us kids any day (within reason, we were kids).
Horse people are good people. They'd risk their own lives, give their last dime, to care for what in the deep south is sacred to us, that being God, family,land,...and Walkers. And being horse people, Grandma told Grandaddy what had happened and he called Mr. Hall back and asked if his Grandkids had spent any money in there that day. "Why, yes, they had, but only a dime each, thirty whole cents." Grandaddy said that spending our saved up dimes made us official patrons, and patrons can park wherever they liked at the Piggly Wiggly! I love that!
As a sheriff, and a Grandpa, he was tough but fair. (The right thing was done and the splat removed.)
My love for him started my love for all my Breyers. My active 6 year old imagination and the artistry of the vintage 1960s models literally made them come to life for me. When not on a real horse I had a Breyer in my hands, never a doll, always a horse.
At 49 I'm still a tomboy. To this day I look at my horses and I can almost see their hair sway or their eyes catch mine and I have to look again to make sure, they're so lifelike.
Sorry to write so long, but with my grandparents now gone and losing my own dad last November, sitting here with my little black Breyer foal just brings it all back to me...the funniest but sweetest of my childhood memories. Thanks for letting me share this with someone.