My grandpa drove a black pickup-step side with the old style pins and chains on the tail gate to lock it closed, hold it flat, or allow it to drop all the way down. As far as I was concerned, it was a Rolls Royce Silver Phantom.
From the time I walked well, I was trying to get out the screen door to go next door to be with my ‘Paw Paw’. Of course, my mother had her hands full with my younger sister who was a fretful, demanding, high maintenance baby. We lived on a dirt road on the opposite side of a field planted with corn. My mom’s parents lived in an old house (the front rooms had beams that were hand hewn and held together with wooden pegs). It had been added onto over the years-nothing fancy, but comfortable.
My Paw Paw, daddy, and some other man built our house. The land was a gift from my grandparents. The oaks must have seen Gen. Sherman’s armies go through. They towered over us and produced huge piles of leaves and amazing amounts of acorns. The shade was so dense we rarely got wet during a shower and the temperature would drop at least 5-8 degrees from the road to under the trees.
I do not know how old I was, but one day a pickup pulled up at my Paw Paw’s with a stake bed on the back and a white mule looking over the top. (Perfectly acceptable practice in the country back then-and still is in some places.) That was Becky-she had been purchased to plow the garden but also because it was said she would ride. I must have been asking about doing that-I know I pestered anyone and everyone about riding the mechanical horse at the convenience store.
From somewhere came a small saddle covered in red and green vinyl. I know he made stirrups for it out of a block of wood and some belting. I don’t believe the thing ever fit either Becky or us girls because I don’t remember using it. I do remember riding Becky in from the field after he finished plowing-he’d reach down after unhooking the traces and throw me up behind the hames to sit on the back band. I thought I was riding a unicorn or a winged steed.
Somewhere there’s a photo of me and my sister on Becky being led by Paw Paw. I knew she was a big girl. Didn’t realize how big until I saw the photo. Paw Paw was about 6’2″ and Becky’s withers are somewhere around his ears. That would have put that mule in the neighborhood of 16-3 to 17 hands. Big girl.
Paw Paw promised me that Becky would be mine one day. Then he died when I was eight and she was sold. I stayed mad for the next four years.