A Million Miles To The City

I stood on the third board of the wooden fence surrounding the hog pen and tossed corn toward the sows. Their squeal was as familiar as the sound of rain on the tin roof of our house.

“Make sure you spread that corn around,” Grandpa said. He pointed toward Sally, the oldest and laziest sow of the three. “She won’t move more than a foot in this heat.”

I redirected some of the feed and asked, “Who are the Cardinals playing this weekend?”

Grandpa filled the water troughs then scratched his beard. “I don’t know for sure. Might be the Pirates.”

“Can we listen to the game. I want to know if Dizzy Dean’s pitchin’”

“Maybe we can try to pick it up on the radio. It might be too durn hot to work in the garden,” Grandpa said.

After dinner Grandpa moved the Philco radio from it’s normal place above the ice box to the window of the living room. Grandma made some lemonade, and Grandpa and me sat in the shade of the big oak tree in the side yard.

“How long will the battery last, Grandpa?”

“We might not be able to listen to the whole game, but several innings at least.”

The battery lasted until the top of the sixth inning.

“Aw, shucks,” I said then drained the last of my lemonade. “Now I won’t know if Dizzy won the game.”

“It might be in the paper next week,” Grandpa said.

I listened to the leaves rustling in the hot summer breeze and asked, “How far is it to the city?”

Grandpa tilted his head back and forth, chuckled, then said, “You’ve been to town with me. It only takes a couple hours to walk there.”

I shook my head and waved. “No, I don’t mean Kinmundy Junction.”

“What do you mean?”

“How far away is St. Louis? You know, where the Cardinals play.”

“Aw, now that’s different.”

“Have you ever been to the city, Grandpa?”

“Well, I reckon I was back before the war. I took your father, God rest his soul, to the city on a train to visit a doctor.”

“A real train? Like the ones that go through town?”

“Kinda. They didn’t go as fast back then.” He looked at me and asked, “Why are you so interested in the city all of a sudden?”

“No reason I guess. Me and Michael were talkin’ about it. How far is it?”

“Well, it’s a million miles to the city now,” Grandpa said.

“Aw, come on. I know it ain’t that far. I’ve seen maps and it’s along the Mississippi River.”

“Well, I guess you’re right about that, but it might as well be a million miles away since it would take about a week to get there on foot.”

“I heard you and Grandma talking about how bad this depression is, and I know a lot of people can’t find no work.”

“We will always have work to do on the farm even if we can’t afford to plant any corn or beans.”

“At least we got plenty of taters and onions in the garden. We won’t ever go hungry, huh?”

“Aye,” he replied in his lilting Irish brogue.

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