Today I’ll write about my past — when I was really, really young. Our family had finally left the farm and moved to the small town of Ashley, Minnesota. My mother was trying to sell books by Billy Sunday and my father was not settled on what he would do. In fact, he was spending most of his time at my older sister’s house complaining and regretting his sale of the farm.
I was left in the care of my sister Abby who was supposedly going to high school, but there was no school during the summer so Abby took me down past the lumber mill where a traveling company had set up a merry-go-round and other booths.
My eyes bugged out at the sight of the gaily-colored ring of animals moving up and down. Abby left me there mesmerized. I don’t know where she went. Probably to see more of the booths.
I was about five years old.
I stood, probably with my finger in my mouth, until I felt a touch on my head and a kind voice said, “Would you like to ride?”
Before I could move the man motioned for the wheel to stop and then he put me up on a wooden horse and motioned for the wheel and the music to start again.
I was in heaven.
Think – the year was about 1912. What I’m telling you is true. The man who paid for my merry-go-round joy was a good-natured old gentleman who owned a lumberyard. He had seen my sister leave and wanted to make sure I was not abandoned.
Those days life was simple. People were kind. I remember it all and I thank God for the ability to bring the scene back to mind.
Today, a man would not dare to come near a child. He would be afraid he would be arrested for assault or attempted kidnapping.
I hate having to compare the simple past with what is happening today. I am not one of the old people who live in the past, but I understand why some do not want to see reality as it is today.
I’m sure Abby returned, because I got home to live the long life God has granted me.
Margaret Caldwell, in her 104th year, is the world’s oldest newspaper columnist.