When I look back I had a very blessed childhood. I had both sets of grandparents (Isleys and Sandefurs) and a full set of great grandparents (Craftons) as well as my step great grandmother (Isley) who lived with us for several years before her passing. All of these grand parents lived until I was a teenager or beyond. To even make it more interesting the grandparents were a generation apart. My dad was the oldest of his family and my mom was the youngest of hers and her oldest brother, Ralph who was 18 years her senior, was 2 years younger than my grandpa Isley. It seems that surprises happened frequently because I have two sets of cousins that are 18 years apart with the younger of one set just a month or so older than my oldest son.
At an early age I remember my dad impressing upon me after company had left one night that one learns considerably more by listening than talking. Evidently I had interrupted too many times that evening. I must admit that dad was right and that began my accumulation of the stories I tell today. This is a story from the Sandefur side of my family.
Summer visits started when I was quite young and continued until I was old enough to have too many chores to be absent from home that I spent a week at each grandparents. The differences between the generations was evident to me because at the Sandefurs I wasn’t allowed to play on the tractors (Olivers) because I might get hurt but at the Isleys I not only could play on the tractors (Allis-Chalmers) but got to drive them when I was about 10 or 11 mainly because I had an uncle 10 months younger than me and he got to drive them. It was fun to drive the tractor to bring in the cows for milking. One other thing I noticed that was different was when it rained or stormed. At the Isley’s you stayed in the field until you got wet but at the Sandefur’s when you heard a clap of thunder no matter how far off it was you went to the barn.
This story begins a long time ago in the late 1920’s around a place called Boggstown when the Sandefurs lived on the “Thurston farm” that was owned by a Mr. Thurston who was the president of one of the banks in Shelbyville. It was in June or July and grandpa and Uncle Ralph were plowing corn, cultivating if you will, a task not done anymore. I imagine most farmers today will tell you they are glad they don’t plow corn today but if they are really honest they’ll tell you it was kind of pleasant setting there with the tractor humming while watching the plow point loosening up the dirt and killing the weeds. To me it was a quiet time if you will, except if you day dreamed too much you would plow out a bunch of corn. Today the farmers kill the weeds in the corn and soybeans just like I do around the flower beds. We spray them.
I’m sure it was much more difficult when plowing corn with a team of horses but a task that had to be done. On this particular day a thunderstorm was blowing up and thunder could be heard in the distance. Uncle Ralph wanted to go to the barn because he was deathly afraid of storms ever since childhood. But, Grandpa said, “We only have to go one more round to get this field done.” So they started the last round. They were almost done, coming down the last side of the field when “Boom”. Lightning struck the fence. The bolt of lightning knocked down the horses and both men. When the horses recovered from the initial shock they struggled to get back on their feet becoming completely tangled in their harness. The horses, frightened and stunned and with no one in control because the men were still on the ground, did the only thing horses know to do. They went to the barn dragging the cultivators behind them scattering parts and corn plant as they ran head long to their only place of safety. The men slowly recovered and grandpa Sandefur was blind for a while and they were both sore but they fully recovered but with a frightening new appreciation for thunder storms. From that day forward if it thundered you went to the barn.
Thanks for listening,