There were two grandmothers to watch me. One would think two adults could keep up with just one four year old. Daddy was in the seminary studying to be a minister and Mother worked to support the family so I stayed with my Grandma and great-grandmother, Little Mama.
It was an idyllic childhood. The two grandmothers to answer my constant questions, cousins who lived a block away, constant playmates, and an aunt just six years older to emulate and imitate. My own house was just down the block and two streets over. I was an only child and the entire world was centered on me. It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized my cousin, one of three at her own house, at times might have something to resent in the pampered life I lived.
However, most days those three cousins and I played amicably at Grandma’s. Often it was a Bible game like Moses in the Bulrushes involving the daylilies at the corner of the porch or John the Baptist in the wilderness with the beans from the mesquite tree in the yard. Sometimes we played Gunsmoke. Grandma’s front porch was unfinished wood and perfect for the sidewalk of an old western town. If you got “shot” you could make a death fall off the porch worthy of an Emmy award. When we played Gunsmoke we really needed my red wagon for the stagecoach, my pair of six shooters with the red holsters and white lacing, my red felt cowboy hat, and maybe my red cocker spaniel, Ginger. Yes, I even had red hair.
The day the grandmothers lost me there were no cousins, no aunt, and the grandmothers were busy cooking and cleaning. I don’t know why I wanted the wagon, six shooters, hat, and dog, but I thought I needed them and I knew where they were located. They were at my house, one block down, two streets over. I asked both grandmothers if I could walk over and get my wagon, they both said yes, so I started out.
I don’t think it took them long to miss me, perhaps they realized I was not asking my constant questions. However, it took some time to search the house, garage, and yard before they began to call neighbors and family to see if anyone else knew where I was.
When my Grandma called my cousin’s house and asked,
“Have you seen Freida?”
My aunt looked out her kitchen window and said,
“She is walking down the middle of the road pulling her wagon, wearing her hat and six shooters.”
There is an old picture my Grandpa took of me and the dog standing in front of that wagon. I have the cowboy hat on my head and those six shooters around my hips. That picture is a reminder of one of those family stories everyone tells and retells. The details may change, but one thing that never changes is that I did ask both grandmothers for permission and they both said okay. I am sure that they listened much closer to my questions after that day.