On Neff Road: It’s in our roots


The old tom turkey was puffed up and angry. Every face was pinned to his blue face. Well, all except Nolan’s, “MeMe, tractor!!!!”

My grandchildren have never been back to Neff Road. They have not asked many questions of my growing up. To them, my childhood is foreign and so far away from all they know and have experienced. So when we go to the pumpkin patch, they get a glimpse of what I already know.

The twins wiggled little fingers through the fence to touch a bunny. Emma picked out a mostly-white pinto horse she wanted to ride and claimed as hers. A big tom turkey put on quite a show with his blue face and angry puffing up of his feathers. Piglets chewed on my fingers. Emma asked questions and Nolan’s little eyes followed every tractor that passed by.

For me, it was pure joy watching them experience what I took for granted most of my life. I love my urban life but am so grateful for my childhood years on the farm. Emma asked about the animals that lived behind my house. She was trying to comprehend what it would be like to have animals so close, to be able to see them every day.

My son lifted the kids up on a big John Deere. Both kids grabbed the wheel and imagination took over. The little boy who plays with toy trains, trucks, cars and tractors was actually on a full-sized one. Pure joy. Emma who also has grown up with the same loved the feel of that big beast as much as did her brother. It was then that I noticed the smile on my son’s face. This was about more than taking his kids to get pumpkins. He had touched on a memory. The days of his grandparents’ farm were something he wanted to share with his children.

We walked over to the play area. Somehow I ended up taking the kids down the big, fast slide while my son took the pictures. James walked over to the barn and was talking to the lady there. He peeked inside at the bale maze and turned around laughing, “When I was a kid, we made tunnels like this out of my grandpa’s bales.”

The woman said, “I bet your grandpa wasn’t happy about that!” Well, she did not live in that house back the lane. She did not know that every kid around the area had played in that barn and built mazes and tunnels out of bales. Sometimes Dad even helped.

We rode the hayride back to the barn after we found our pumpkins, Nolan picking out the seat immediately behind the tractor. I saw in my son’s face the joy of the once boy. Nolan and Emma’s world grew a bit more that day.

My old saddle sits in the kid’s playroom. When we returned home, Emma ran to the saddle, “MeMe, is this how you get on the saddle?” She asked swinging her short leg high and wide. “I’m going to ride my white horse someday. Okay, MeMe?”

Oh, Emma, some day you will ask the questions and learn about Neff Road. You will pull up this experience and realize that the saddle you own was once on my horse. You will look at old pictures and marvel at the wonderful life I lived. Once a farm girl, always a farm girl…..it’s in our ‘roots’.

By Pamela Loxley Drake

Pamela Loxley Drake is a former resident of Darke County and is the author of Neff Road and A Grandparent Voice blog. She can be reached at [email protected]. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.

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