The Farmer's Daughter
Back in 1957, kissing Carol Ann behind the barn
in the middle of a windswept field of Goldenrod
with a sudden deer watching was very special,
let me tell you. Back then, bobby sox, poodle skirts
big barrettes and ponytails were everywhere.
Like many farmers, Carol Ann's father had a giant radio,
a console occupying the living room, and every
Saturday night the family would gather 'round
with great big bowls of ice cream and listen
to the Grand Ole Opry. It was beamed
“all the way from Nashville," I was often told
since I was from Chicago and I sometimes wore
a suit and tie so how would I know.
One time I asked Carol Ann if the Grand Ole Opry
was the Mormon Tabernacle Choir of country music
and she said not to say that to her father. Instead
I should tap my foot to the music and let him watch me.
Otherwise, I’d best be quiet and say “yup,” “nope” or
“maybe” if he asked me any questions which she didn’t
think would happen. "No need to say much more,"
she said, and after a few visits I understood why.
Over time, I learned to tap my foot pretty good because
when I’d come to visit, her father would insist I have
my own big bowl of ice cream. I liked the ice cream but
not so much the Grand Ole Opry. After all, I’d been weaned
on Sinatra in the city. Big difference, let me tell you.
But in 1957 kissing Carol Ann behind the barn
was all that we could do until I found employment.
Only then, her father said, could we get married.
There were no jobs in town, however, for a man
with horn-rimmed glasses and degrees in English.
Yet the weekend drives from Chicago were worth the gas
my Rambler guzzled because kissing Carol Ann brought
a bit of heaven down behind that barn, especially on
summer nights when darting fireflies were the only
stars we saw when our eyes finally popped open. It was
the Fourth of July every time with sparklers twinkling.
Now, 55 years later, Carol Ann sometimes mentions fireflies
when the two of us are dancing behind the cows at dusk
and coaxing them into the barn for the night. I’m still not
good with cows despite my John Deere cap, plaid shirt
and overalls which proves, she says, that all that kissing
behind the barn in 1957 took the boy out of the city
but not the city out of the boy.
“Hee Haw” is all I ever say because I know why I’m there.
I'm there to tap the cows on the rump until we get them
back in the barn so we can go back in the house and start
with a kiss and later on come back downstairs
for two big bowls of ice cream.