Working in the Field with My Dad
When my mom gave me a kitchen chore that I didn’t like, I ran out to the field to hang out with my dad and the men. I crawled into his lap while he drove the wagon. This is how I learned how to drive a four-horse hitch by the time I was 11 years old.
It was really hard. I held two sets of reins in my right hand and two in my left. I controlled the front horses with my right hand and the back horses with my left. If I didn’t keep the reins lined up and maintain a firm grip on the horses, they would get twisted up into a big mess. This could even overturn the wagon. So I had to make sure that didn’t happen. I was a big help to the men because I controlled the horses and steered the wagon, while they put hay on the wagon.
My dad made work fun. A big tease, he was always joking and telling tall tales. He like to brag about my hard work and toughness, which inspired me to work even harder. My chest swelled with pride when I heard him swagger, “Can you believe that Lois? She drives a four-horse hitch all by herself!” It probably wasn’t very fair to my mom, but I knew I could get away from my boring house chores by hanging around my dad. My dad adored me. And I was crazy about him—especially because he indulged my independent streak.
Of course, my work in the field never got me out of one indoor chore: helping my mom prepare the huge midday meal for the men who worked the field. We served large helpings of meat, potatoes, and gravy along with many side dishes. And pie … we made several pies a day during harvest season. Anxious to get back to the field, I usually hurried through my kitchen chores. That might be why I’ve always been a whiz in the kitchen.