On Neff Road: A little teasel mouse


Teasel mouse. “Don’t you remember?” asked June. I was trying to visualize a teasel plant let alone one as a mouse. Then I looked it up. Yes, my farm friends, I had forgotten that plant that invades ditches and field rows. It got me thinking.

Every year I take an ornament off of the tree that Margaret Stager made for me a few decades ago. The old milk pod is trimmed with cord, painted inside and tinsel added. One of many ornaments she gave me over the years. I also have a walnut shell holding a tiny baby. At one time I had a few more but they have fallen apart over the years.

Living on a farm taught me to be creative. We learned to play house in a corn crib with an orange crate for a table and curtains as our clothing. We played cowboys hiding behind a mountain of bales. Huge rocks were the place to play house or play with tiny toys. Many a cool mount was created with a piece of twine and tobacco lath.

Tin cans became telephones. A string and two cans. I’m sure that Brenda and I considered it between our houses but were shot down. Better use for strings than to drag it across a field. I also wrapped yarn around an old can to make a pencil holder. Several cans bunched together made a great place to toss a ping pong ball. Creativity and lots of fun.

I remember well stringing buttons. Mom Johnson had a big tin full of buttons….most were from underwear. An adult tied a button at the bottom of a string with a needle on the other end. Many buttons were strung. To what use? None that I can think of. When I was smaller, I remember stringing empty thread spools. A parent could entertain a child for hours with a string and any item that could be strung.

Dad made stilts for us and the board for the swing. A small board and an old can made for balancing fun. Or in my case, a good way to fall and get hurt.

Apple baskets became a cradle for our babies, a place toss a basketball and a great way to carry things from the house to the barn where the basket then became another piece of our playhouse furniture.

The teasel weed reminded me that probably long ago in our histories, other families did many of these same things. A child along a wagon trail looked for rocks to count with and sticks to draw in the dirt. A stick became a horse and dolly was placed in box in the covered wagon.

What a rich history of creativity. We were poor farmers. There was not extra money for new toys. We could not buy new Christmas decorations. There was no money crafts. A coloring book was treat. Cut out dolls were precious treasures.

I love this history that has carried through to today. I pull from it with my grandchildren who string Cheerios for the birds. We play creative games using what we have on hand. I know that this history will mean nothing to them now. I know that one day one or more of these children as an adult will want to know what it was like when MeMe was growing up. Mom left a treasure trove memories in the journals she left behind. She left the memories in the hands of her daughters, so now they can create a stronger bond while sharing the past. A little teasel mouse. Thanks, Mom.


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.

No posts to display