“Oh” what fun! A brand-new “Radio Flyer” wagon. When I was seven, Popo bought it for me shortly after Dad was discharged from the Army in 1947. At first we were living in Grandma Hughes very small shingled house out on their ranch. Soon after though, we moved to an eight acre farm just out of Grass Valley, on Burma Road.
Back then little girls weren’t supposed to have wagons at all, they were for boys. As an adult now, I wonder what Popo, who thought girls should act like ladies and be pretty, how come he bought me a wagon? Did he understand that I had a lot of energy and had to work some of it off?
I don’t remember asking for one but when we moved there there was an old beat-up one there that I would play with. Popo came to help Mom load pears to take to market and they used the wagon to help drag the pear boes up from the small orchard to load and take to the packing house. The old wagon didn’t last very long under the weight of those pears. So I was so excited when I saw this beautiful new wagon. Outside, going down a slight incline on a path to the garden, I would ride the wagon over and over again. It scared Mom to death that I would not make the curve going into the garden, but plow into the barbed wire fence that blocked the path if you didn’t make the curve.
I wasn’t long though before I needed a new challenge. Just before our house on Burma Road there was this very steep hill. Everyday walking back and forth to the bus stop going to school I would imagine riding down the hill. Fast like the wind. With trees all a blur, pigtails flying and holding on tight. Mom terrified and Dad laughing like mad.
So one day when I got up enough nerve, I pulled my wagon up the long steep hill. At the top it looked really scary, I wanted to ride down the hill, just take a chance to see if it was as much fun as I thought it would be. It was hard to get in the wagon, it kept rolling away from me. Finally in the wagon, I sat legs on either side of the wagon. As I lifted them in the wagon, off I went when suddenly the wagon’s front wheel went into a rut in the road, throwing me helter skelter, arms and legs flying in the air. Down I came hitting hard when I hit the ground. I wanted to cry but I had knocked the breath out of myself. My jeans torn and dirty, arms and legs scratched and bleeding. I was so surprised to see I had only gone a few feet when I had this tumble. Now from this experience I would make sure next time to look before I tried something like this again, because there were big ruts and rocks in the dirt road. I was so disappointed. Some day I might try again but not right now.
Years late, I went back to Burma Road, where was that long, rutted road? Now it was paved and looked very mild. But then again, I’m not seven anymore.