Once Upon a Time in the West: a first kiss and a fisticuffs

fisticuffs:  to fight with the fists. 

First Known Use: 1605  ~ This correct definition is from Merriam Webster  and can be found HERE


Once when I was seven we lived in an unincorporated little suburb of Southern California.  Somewhere in the middle between Pomona, Montclair and Chino if I recall correctly. The little two bedroom house on Kadota Street was  surrounded by cows and cattle fence.  Smaller even than our current Farmlet, it was our family’s little bit of heaven on one-quarter acre.

I had a few friends, but being a bit of a Tomboy back then I really rather favored the friendship of a little blond-headed boy named Johnny.  We use to walk the pastures, build forts, climb trees, and play in the hayloft.  We loved to spin tales and then act them out.

Because of our boyish friendship it came as quite a shock, when one day in the hayloft Johnny tried to kiss me!  On the lips!  He leaned in, and I defensively crossed my arms over my chest between us,

and then pushed him away…


He went flying back and over the edge of the hayloft.  Crawling to the edge and looking down, I could see him laying there, on his back, and underneath the cow.  He was looking shocked and shouting up to me he exclaimed,

“Well, what’d ya do that for?”

I told him,  “Kissing was for grown-ups”, then climbed down the ladder and ran for home.

Over the next few weeks I avoided Johnny at school.  So it was a complete surprise to find him waiting for me on my way home one day.  He was angry and trying to pick a fight!  I wasn’t having any of that, so I crossed the street and tried to walk on by, but he caught up to me, grabbed my arm,  and hit me!

Of course I got really mad and lit into him, punching him right back, until he cried and ran off for home.  When I got home I said nothing to my parents, because I didn’t want to get in trouble for fighting.

Later that day, his dad came to the door with him in tow.  His dad wanted to speak to my dad.  The conversation went something like this as I recall,

J’s dad:  Your son beat up my son and gave him this black eye!

My dad:  I don’t see how that is possible…  (he was cut off)

J’s dad:  You’re calling my son a liar?

My dad:  I have two son’s.  On is two, and the other is in a cast over there in the living room, and he can’t even walk!

J’s dad to J:  You told me he beat you up?  What’s going on!

J:  No daddy, not him, her!

J’s dad:  You let a GIRL do this to you?  (smack)  Get along home!

Poor Johnny!


Johnny and I never were friendly after that day in the hayloft, and he never tried to fight me again either.  😉

Of note, a favorite song of mine from about that time was Perry Como’s Catch a Falling Star.  I used to sing the refrain all the time, because it was catchy and I liked the idea. 

“Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket, save it for a rainy day…”

However, the whole song has a line in there that may have given Johnny the wrong idea?  Who can say?  😀

Sunday Shorts (OK, I know it’s late!)

The Value of Family


When Christine had shown up from Florida, I knew I wanted to take her everywhere and show her all the things that made SoCal special to me.  The Claremont Colleges having been my old stomping grounds in high school were on the list for sure.  Where else could you get that feeling of being back east in California?  Then there were the natural elements that made the area so wonderful.  The mountains that surrounded the valley I had grown up in, and just a couple of hours to the north or the east would bring you into the desert lands where the silence could swallow you up.   However, on that day it was the beach that was my priority.

Problem!  Mom was making me take my younger brother and sister with us.  I resented her for making me take them.  After all, Christine had come to see me and the sights, not help babysit my two youngest siblings!  Angrily, I loaded them both into the back of the station wagon with their things, and pulled out of the driveway.  About half the way there Christine looked over at me and noticing I was still pouting, she said, “It’s OK, they aren’t misbehaving and I really don’t mind.”

On hearing her say that my attitude brightened and I suddenly felt we would have a great day.

Now I had always found it odd that it could be sunny and hot in our inland valley and yet a drive to the beach could find you ten degrees cooler and facing a cloudy and overcast day.  Such was the case this day and I was disappointed.  Well, there was still the cave to be seen, and later in the after noon found us scrambling over the rocks to investigate!

As we rounded the last rocky outcropping I noticed that the little bay was a bit too small.  I realized that the tide was coming in and we needed to take a peek at the cave and then get out of there before it was too late.

I told Christine what was going on, and then yelled to the kids to stay close.  We walked into the cave, gave the requisite shouts to hear our echos, and then came out to go back.

We had only been there what seemed a few minutes and already the waves were crashing against the lower rocks.  Scrambling up the lower formations we were being sprayed with the fanning water as each wave broke.  We were screaming with each wave, and then laughing because the water was so cold.  We had become drenched!

Suddenly, a very big wave rolled in and instead of breaking like all the others it just continued to roll right over our pathway.  There was now about two feet of fast, churning water hitting our shins.  I froze.

Quickly scanning the outcropping for my brother and sister, I saw Alison and Christine bolt for the cliff face and grab on like crabs in their effort to not be washed away.  Clinging there their faces looked so pale against the wet and darkened rock.  The wave broke against them, and then began to retreat.  The force of the retreating water was causing me to me lose my footing.   When I looked back I was panicked to see Aaron being swept over the edge of the rocks and out to sea.

It is amazing what detail your mind can store in a situation where you face so much trauma.  I was once told by a doctor that the adrenaline in such situations will cause your brain to go into overdrive, and instead of getting just the general information from the situation, your brain records every single millisecond of detail and it plays in your mind like slow motion…

Aaron was floating over the rocks, his face white, looking terrified.  There was no screaming of “HELP!” like in the movies, it was just terror and scrabbling to find something to hold on to.  Breaking from my frozen state I tried to run to him and catch him if I could, but the four feet between us might just as well have been forty.  The ocean had garnered a prize that day and was not going to let it go!  I lunged for him but missed my grasp.  In my mind I was hearing myself explain to my parents how I had allowed my baby brother to be killed that day on the cliffs, and I knew they would never forgive me.  Never.

I see my brother dig his fingers into the holes on the rocks edge, the water is dragging his legs and body straight out behind him and then seems to let him go.  Straining, he pulls his body back to the rocks.  I see the muscles and tendons in high relief along his arms, his legs and feet are pistoning against the razor edges of the rock bluff, and then, he is free.   Laying there, his chest heaving, he begins to cry.

By this time Alison, and Christina are at my side.  We help Aaron up and quickly get off the rocks.  Safely on the sand we carefully check Aaron to assess the damage.  He has a few scratches on his arms and legs, his shorts are shredded and so is the end of his left big toe!  (I will spare you the details, but just know it was horrific looking!)  We took him to the first aid station where they patched him up, and then we left.  We’d had enough of the beach for one day.

That was forty years ago, and every time I remember that day, my selfishness shames me.   Remembering the terror on those rocks, when I thought we’d never come back from that one last wave,  is when I realized how much my brother and sister meant to me, and that it could have all ended so differently.


This is not my picture, but it is where the above events took place all those years ago.crystal_cove

Professor Tom Morris, who teaches Environmental Biology at Fullerton College, posts this photograph with the admonishment to “Go at low tide.”


NOTE:  Please kindly click the photograph to link back to its source and view the many other amazing photos Professor Morris has posted to his website.  Thank you!


From The Daily Post  who gave us this line to use in our writing today:

“I thought we’d never come back from that one.”

An Anniversary?

I didn’t intend to write today, but was surprised to find out just a moment ago that I have been blogging here on WordPress for four years.

Until I moved from Southern California, a distance of about 2,700 miles from home, I had never felt the need to blog.   However, when you are this far from family and friends, well, there is suddenly a lot to share.  And what better way, than to blog with pictures for punctuation and emphasis!

I think of my blog as an open diary…  and sometimes, when I go back and reread old posts, I am amazed by how much I have learned and grown here on the Farmlet.  I have gained new friends here as well.  You’ve arrived on my little bit of blog from all over the world,  and you have all had a part in helping me to survive the occasional loneliness,  distance, and the learning curve of country life.

Thank you.

Here’s to continued learning, growth, and sharing with old friends and new!