Earwigs and memories
“What is that sticking out of your ear?” she called to me even before I had reached the driveway where she was jumping from one foot to the other.
“I hope nothing,” I answered as I neared where the 4-year-old was bounding around, Jack Russell terrier-like. I reached up and felt my right ear, fervently hoping nothing was sticking out of my ear.
My mind fell back to an old movie where an earwig burrows down inside a guy’s ear and bores into his brain and drives him crazy. After watching that movie, my brother and I slept with toilet paper stuffed into our ears to keep out the ear wigs — whatever those were.
As I reached the 4-year-old, another youngster around the age of 7 began chattering. I took off my cap. “Oh,” I said,” that is the tail end of the strap on my cap.” To say I was relieved is an understatement.
By now, an adult tried to shush the girls. She said that she was sorry they had interrupted me; to which I replied that I had not been interrupted at all.
“You mean, your hat, don’t you?” the 4-year-old persisted. The older youngster was tugging at her jacket. “No,” I replied, “a cap has a brim, like this; a hat has a brim that goes all the way around.”
“Well, what’s that?” the 4-year-old asked, tugging at the tip of my walking stick. I said that I would tell her what it was, and then I would tell her what I used it for. I explained that it was a pig whacking stick that pig farmers used to guide their pigs into a pen. I went on to say that I used it to pop a dog on the nose if it tried to snap at me.
The adult with her kept trying to shush her, to no avail. I explained that she wasn’t really bothering me, and she wasn’t. I enjoy a good conversation with a 4-year-old. Then the 4-year-old told me that I might think it was for pigs, but it was really for horses; and it does look a lot like a riding crop for horses.
Then she wanted to know where I got it; to which I replied that I got it at the Leavenworth County Fair, 20 years ago. I looked around at another adult standing there and realized that they were kids themselves when I bought the walking stick.
We chatted for a while about the house where we were standing, the old Lloyd Lehman house. I told them he was a grocer when I was a kid and that he had a store on Oak Street, across from where the credit union is now. He was a good man; good family.
The four of us ambled down Nettleton, parted ways on Oak Street; no ear wigs, just the stirring of memories. “Turn backward, turn backward, oh time in your flight, make me a child again just for tonight.”