by Wilma Fast Harder Jungas
In thinking of my early childhood, I am still forever thankful for being born and raised on the farm. There I developed the love for Nature, the beauty of Creation, the satisfaction of, to some extent, "foretelling the day's weather," the natural habitat of wild life and, especially, birds.
I was the only child to be born on the farm, for my three sisters and one brother were all born in the Mountain Lake Hospital. But now, in maturity, is that the reason I have been the one who remained living on the farm and my siblings all scattered to the East Coast, West Coast and in between?? Even now, I have access to that 'Farm Home'. It has been beautifully added to (including the brick house, barn and yard) and made into an 'Estate-Like Place' by Jack and Becky (Jungas).
As I grew older, I soon became my Dad's helper. It wasn't that I chose to do so, but on the farm it was a distinct advantage for the first born to be a boy. But here I think I developed my love for Nature and the outdoors. Of course, down the line my sisters bribed me and praised me as to how much better I was at helping Dad and how they would do everything for me in the house, if only I'd help outside. But from it I got an education also. My Dad and I used to walk down our lane of trees to view the Western horizon and sky when clouds appeared. Here we studied what type of clouds they were, how fast they were moving, what direction they were moving, were they rain clouds or storm clouds, would they strike us or move by? One summer afternoon when making hay stacks with my Uncle and Dad, I tried to "Master" what "Thunderhead" clouds were, for then these two men would know whether we'd be getting a thunderstorm by about 6:00 P.M. I never got completely secure in my analysis of that. I also found where quail and ground birds nested and how killdeer ran along a cornrow with one wing limp and wobbling so you'd think it was hurt and you'd try to pick it up - but she was only leading you away from her nest. There was the foxhole near some trees, and in the warmth of the early morning sun, the little pups would come out to warm themselves. In later years, when I was to wash dishes, I heard a strange bird call I didn't recognize and I would leave the dishes, run into the grove, follow the bird and would see what it looked like so that I could learn both the name of the bird plus its song. Birds have remained a big joy of mine and John has wonderfully supplied our backyard with all types of feeders, bird baths and houses to satisfy me.
In the "Country School days" transportation was a problem with our school over two miles distant with only gravel roads to travel on and in the first years, no car. So then mostly my Dad hitched up horses and took me, but no wonder that for 3rd and 6th grade I stayed at Grandpa and Grandma Fast's house in Mountain Lake. I never liked that being "away from home" much. Besides, the windows in my room were high up small dormer windows and I had no place to "rove" so I felt like a prisoner. But one thing I learned and in my adult years appreciated was that never were Grandpa or Grandma too busy for a whole chapter of Bible reading and prayer, for we always had morning devotions before breakfast and evening devotions before bedtime!
I must relate one episode, a miracle to me, which happened in my "Field Work Helper" days which proved to me "my Lord's special care"! My Dad and his brother (who lived about 1/3 mile from us, on the 'Fast Homestead') did their big farm work together. Little Wilma helped both. The two brothers were one day finishing putting up a haystack. The hired man had to go home so they "promoted" me to do the job of raking together the leftover blobs of hay into piles so it could be raked up with the bull-rake driven by Uncle John. My Dad was always on the haystack, piling hay into the right niches to make a nice solid stack. I must describe the hay rake on which I was to sit and drive. It was a contraption of huge tines between huge iron wheels (4 ft. diameter) at each end and held together by a shaft (8 ft. wide) with big curved tines hanging down from it that raked up the hay. When the tines were full, you'd step on a lever and the tines lifted and the hay would stay lying in a nice heap. I had a pair of nice, docile horses, but suddenly with a jerk they started running! (They must have heard a noise.) I fell forward off the seat behind flailing hooves of horses and in front of tines! Now the miracle - as I fell, I dropped on to the lift lever of the tines! The tines lifted and I rolled under and free on the ground!!
My high school years were joyous wonderful times. I had lots of friends, a very good English and music teacher, plus choir all four years with awards every year. I even went to the State Music Contest where we won awards and was in the class play and operetta. I was also in the Church choir all my life until the birth of my two boys. Also, while in high school, I took Catechism Class taught by Rev. J. J. Balzer and was baptized in July, 1930.
(to be continued in next issue)