1950 Memories of Suburban Adventures

Mary Reincarnated

The saying ‘You could fall into a pile of poop and come out smelling like a rose’ was not apropos. Well, the first part applied, but the second part was definitely talking about someone else.

Great-Aunt Mary (circa 1900)

Great-Aunt Mary
(circa 1900)

What could be better than one Mary Norton? Two Mary Nortons, of course! Great-Aunt Mary’s maiden name was Mary Norton. I was the new Mary Norton, named after my great-aunt, regular aunt, and Bochi. Aunt Mary and I were each above average height and wiry thin, but she had pretty gray pin-curls falling just below her ears while I had bushy hair and (thanks to Dad’s barber skills) crooked bangs.

Although it was neat that we shared the same birthday, I was grateful I didn’t share a name with Dad’s grandmother Pluma. Grandma’s name, Alma, was slightly better and I could have made it work.

I loved listening to Aunt Mary’s stories about the olden days. I’m talking about really olden days, back in the late 1800s and early 1900s. In addition to a name and skinniness, we shared a strong sense of humor.

Great Aunt Mary and Uncle Clifford

Great Aunt Mary and Uncle Clifford

“On April fool’s day, I used a very fine thread to sew Clifford’s silverware to the tablecloth,” she said, with a remembering chuckle. “Another time, I shot a huge black snake threatening a bird nest up in the white birch tree beside the garage. I coiled it up on the hosta-flanked walkway leading to the side entrance Clifford used. He was terrified of snakes (another chuckle). He screamed and jumped at least a foot in the air.”

“Where were you? How’d you see him?” I asked.

“Oh, my nose was pressed against the kitchen window.”

Aunt Mary overheard me telling several neighborhood kids the story about a hatchet we found left on the breezeway stairs leading to her attic. Red paint smudged its blade.

“Tons of giant rats live up in the attic, and Aunt Mary uses this hatchet to kill them,” I explained in a somber voice. “The red on its blade is dried rat blood.”

Aunt Mary didn’t march out and correct my little fib, and later laughed while repeating my tall-tale to Mom and Dad.

Where was this horse when she needed it?

Where was this horse when she needed it?

She inspired me (and caused severe bruising to my ego and butt) with the following tale: “An old pony cart sat unused on my family’s farm and I wanted a couple of ponies to pull it. When no ponies were forthcoming, I used my ingenuity. I hooked up two heifers (young cows) and trained them to pull me around in the cart.”

Dad kept heifers in Aunt Mary’s barn, and a few bulls in her pasture. We didn’t have a pony cart to hitch heifers to, so I decided to ride bareback. Once it was tamed I planned on riding up and down Dean Road, and eventually into town. I told David my plan and we headed for the barn.

Uncooperative cows!

Uncooperative cows!

It was my idea, so I insisted on riding first. I perched on a wooden rail across one end of the indoor pen, while David offered a handful of fresh grass to lure a heifer close. I maneuvered the heifer sideways against the railing and jumped onto its back. The startled cow bucked like a wild bronco. Unlike a horse, a heifer has no reins or mane of hair to hang on to. I bounced up and down like an inept rodeo clown, inelegantly flew through the air, and returned to earth with a shploosh. For the first time (but not the last) my crash-landing was miraculously cushioned by a warm pile of manure.

David grabbed a nearby beam to keep from falling off the railing while laughing. I checked for protruding bones (none found), and slowly exited the heifer pen. My unsympathetic brother spied my cow-poop-covered butt and ran to the house to spread the news of my unsuccessful bronco ride and dismount. His inappropriate laughter trailed behind. David refused to come back and take his turn bareback riding.

Lesson Learned: Going first is not always best. Sometimes it’s better to go second, a lesson I should have remembered in the future.

Related Posts: Amazing Discoveries/Doty’s Pond

Now it’s your turn: Have you had a bad poop experience?

© Mary Norton-Miller and 1950s Suburban Adventures, 2012 forward. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mary Norton-Miller and 1950s Suburban Adventures with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


  1. parrillaturi says:

    Hmm. Can’t top this one. You must have given your parents second thoughts about having more children. Have you ever considered writing a book in a comedic style, with respect to your childhood? You should. It would be a best seller. Blessings.

    • skinnyuz2b says:

      Thanks, Parr. Yes, I’m sure I gave them second and third thoughts. But my brother, 1 1/2 years younger, was soooo good by comparison that they went on to have two more.
      When I’m done with this portion of my blog, about nine more years of tales to unfold, I do hope to have this published.

  2. spunkybong says:

    Bronco Mary. 😀

    • skinnyuz2b says:

      One of my great-aunt and uncle’s friends was nicknamed Bronco Charlie. He was one of the yougest pony express riders and actually rode in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. I have photos of my aunt and uncle sitting on his horse, dressed in his show outfit. He often came to stay with them. Although we never met, maybe I was trying to emmulate him.

  3. kriskkaria says:

    Oh yes, at least Jack had one. We now take a back pack while walking the dogs to put the poop bags in. When JJ and Benny were puppies Jack carried the bag between them. But then, they ran after something, caught the bag in the double leash and it exploded. I wrote a little story about that, Exploding Puppy Shit.

    • skinnyuz2b says:

      I’ll have to check this story out. The image of exploding poop is hard to resist!

      • kriskkaria says:

        This is a story I did as a podcast, not a blog. Here is the bit about Jack and exploding poo.

        We adopted two puppies, Australian cattle dogs, my favorite breed. Jack’s idea to get two, not mine. JJ and Benny are brothers almost 5 months old now. JJ is currently sleeping on his back with two paws straight up and Benny is half off his bed.
        Jack loves to walk them but isn’t always good at handling both together. A few weeks back, he scooped up a really soft pile dropped by JJ into a plastic bag. A further way along the walk, JJ and
        Benny lunged sniffing in opposite directions catching the bag of shit in between their leashes. It exploded scattering puppy poo over the 3 of them. Everyone got a bath that night.

  4. […] Related posts: Chapter Seven: Mary Reincarnated […]

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