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Falling off the Grand Canyon and Other Childhood Stories

Posted by Cindy H French on 08/29/2009

This was my first memory! My dad screaming my name! He was at the top of the Grand Canyon walk, I was down on outcropped rock looking at the pretty river. I was 5.

We had traveled out to the Grand Canyon on the way to Disney Land from  Houston where we lived. My parents had waxed poetic about how beautiful everything was and the river below–of course they could see all that–from their height! So I had simply climbed under the guard rail, and part way down the mountain to see what they were seeing.  Little did I know that grown people are often blown off of outcropped rocks if they’ve trespassed as I did. I was just a skinny little mini at 5–but no wind came up to blow me away. My dad said the hand of God protected me that day. I only knew I was in trouble again! Even while I was being kissed and hugged after “being found”.

My dad was in the navy in WWII. He also grew up in a household where he was not wanted or loved. He coped by being as perfect as possible and expected everyone to do the same! He was very intelligent. He had a PhD in Physics and during his business career actually invented things used in our everyday lives-but of course the companies he worked for hold the patents!

At any rate, our household was run by Dad. And in all things, we  had to ask him first-even to switching from winter to summer PJ’s! Even though he was a very strict father, he dearly loved his wife and children. All the love he hadn’t been able to receive or give as a child, he gave as he was able.

When I was 6, for Christmas , I got handmade doll furniture, even a wardrobe with doors to put my dolls clothes in. I still remember how everything looked! I loved it so much! Of course, at  the time, I didn’t understand how much time and love must have gone into the making of it all, but I do now.

That summer, my dad was going to finish the big remodel on our house. My mom, sister and new brother and I rode the Greyhound bus to South Carolina. My grandmother lived in Timmonsville where she had a farm. We stayed with her for the summer-probably one of the best times of my life. Unfortunately when she came to pick us up at the bus stop, I was so excited to see her, I left my precious doll and her furniture on the bus. For years afterward, I would check to see if anyone had turned it in. Now I guess that some other little girl had the joy of the doll and the furniture-as that would be just like God’s nature to see to it.

Grandma raised cotton and tobacco. She also had cows and chickens–all the things you’d expect on a farm. They were pretty self sustaining. Milk from the cows, no,I couldn’t milk them, did try! Eggs from the chickens,which I collected every morning and I took the cows out to pasture every day.  The only bad part about living on the farm was drinking the well water! It must have had sulphar or some kind of mineral in it, but I could not drink it! I didn’t like cow’s milk either, so I was in trouble every day because I only drank juice or the sweet ice tea Grandma made.

I had to sit at the table for hours each night, looking at that glass of water my mother wanted me to drink!. Grandma had such a soft heart and often tried to intervene or sneak the water away. It took me years to be able to drink water after that! Iguess I was in my 30’s before I learned to even drink seltzer water.

As I said, my grandma raised tobacco. My favorite time was riding the tobacco drags and picking the leaves for harvest. Then the people she hired to harvest, wrap and dry the leaves taught me how to wrap them for drying. I was working but having so much fun! When we went to market to sell the tobacco, I had my first experience at an auction. All the growers would bring the tobacco to the warehouse and it would be laid out to be looked at–I guess some looked better than others-and then the lot would go for the best price. The really fun part of that visit to auction was riding those pallets with wheels up and down the warehouse levels. My cousins were with us and it was such a great time that it is one of my favorite memories 50+ years later.

I celebrated my 7th birthday in Timmonsville. I got cowgirl clothes and a cap pistol with which I chased all my guests, shooting them! I had mostly boy cousins my age, so that summer, I became a full-fledged tomboy. I learned to play softball and basketball and touch football.

My aunt visited from Nebraska, coming by train. When she was leaving to go back, my mom and I went on the train with her to get her settled. Of course my mom and aunt were big talkers and before we knew it, the train was pulling out of the station!  We didn’t/couldn’t go too, so my mom told me to jump off the train as she did. Of course, I broke my ankle and spent the rest of the summer on crutches.

When we went back to Houston, I just played with the neighborhood boys as there weren’t any girls around then. I was a good pitcher, decent batter, so I was welcome. we also played Tarzan and Jane a lot.

All the lots in our neighborhood were 1 acre so there was plenty of room to play. We had lot’s of trees in our backyard and I desperately wanted a treehouse (shades of Swiss Family Robinson). I never got one, but we did have a playhouse. A one room, little cablin. Of course, no electricity or anything, but during the day, we had plenty of light and played in there. Later, it turned out to be a scary, unsafe place, but originally, we did girlscout type camp outs, sleeping w/flashlight, cookng breakfast  on a can with serno underneath. It was really cool to make pancakes and bacon. I remember either a brownie or girl scout deal for a year or two and getting lot’s of badges.  That’s how I learned to cook on that “homemade” stove.

Some major (strange) things happened along the way during time that have affected my health ever since.  My dad took us to the park regularly. I loved the merry-go-round. He told me that little people under it made it go round and round. Of course, being the inquisitive kid (remember the Grand Canyon) I stuck my head underneath to see the little people. Unfortunately someone turned the merry-go-round at the same time and all I remember is the REALLY bad pain in my neck and not being able to life my head off of the sofa. I was so young, I have no idea how long that went on, but know that I have had neck problems ever since.

In Texas, growing up, we never wore shoes. I don’t know about other states, but we were always barefoot. I think I only wore shoes to school and to church. One day, going to see my new best friend Candy, who lived behind us, I climbed the fence, just as I always had. This time, jumping off, I landed on a broken root which went right up into my foot and broke off again. Of course, as a little kid, probably 8, you don’t know when you have been seriously hurt, but our housekeeper did. She called my parents immediately when she couldn’t stop the bleeding. (my mom had gone back to work as a designer by then) I do remember how very painful it was and without MRIs or CTScans, all the doctor could do was probe around inside my foot every week, trying to find that piece that had broken off. They knew it was in there, because the wound wouldn’t heal. I spent another summer on crutches and finally the wound healed over. My granddaughters think the lovely “hole” in my foot is funny.

You’d think I would be careful after that, but the next year, playing Tarzan and Jane, swinging on the rope-it broke. I landed on my arm at the wrist. I could see my wrist laying beside my arm, held on by my skin. Luckily for me, my dad was home and heard the screaming. He put my arm in a pillow, taped it up and then scooped me up to the car and we took off. We ran red lights and he was blinking his horn and flashing his lights! All of a sudden, we had a police escort, if I hadn’t been in such pain, I would have been excited! Apparently in this kind of break, there is a possibility of an artery being cut and he was just trying to get me help ASAP. As soon as we were at the hospital, I was whisked away for surgery. They set my arm and I wore a cast for 6 wks. Unfortunately this was my first of many surgeries.


3 Responses to “Falling off the Grand Canyon and Other Childhood Stories”

  1. cshowers said

    Bless your heart! I like the inquisitive little girl that you were… always up for adventure and excitement… I’m enjoying this – going to read the next post now, while I still have time. 🙂 Blessings!

    • You are such a sweetheart! You know that inquisitiveness has gotten me into more trouble than I can tell you about. But it also helps me as a recruiter. I do like what I do. I can’t talk well today. I have bronchitis and a wheezie cough which I never get but now the last couple of times I have. I don’t know if that is good or bad that the asthma seems to be changing some. I wouldn’t mind getting rid of the coughing. It is pretty horrible-sometimes to the throw up stage or after that the trachea just clinches shut. That’s when we go visit the hospital. I am doing my best to stay away from there this weekend. I did call my doctor on wed for help-I said visit? meds? breathing treatments? I got the meds and the breathing treatments. Right now everything isn’t working so well. I had to have 2 treatments in the night 3 1/2 hr apart and your supposed to wait 4 min. but I couldn’t. then I never went back to sleepl. Please pray for me this weekend.

      Cindy French CSAM, CPC Manager 8517 Gunn Highway Odessa, FL 33556 813.390.8791 (cell) 813.926.9390 (direct) 800.878.7165 x120 813.968.6450 (fax) View my profile on LinkedIn

      “It is impossible to have a great life unless it is a meaningful life. And it is very difficult to have a meaningful life without meaningful work.” Jim Collins, “Good To Great” Management Recruiters of Tampa North, Inc. is an equal opportunity employer regardless of race, color, religion, creed, sex, marital status, national origin, disability, age, veteran status, on-the-job injury, sexual orientation, political affiliation or belief. Employment decisions are made without consideration of these or any other factors that employers are prohibited by law from considering.

      • cshowers said

        I will pray – right now…

        Father, in Jesus’ mighty name, I speak to Cindy’s bronchial tubes, that they would be clear and open, the way You created them to be, and that her lungs would be clear from all bacteria and infection. Lord, YOUR word says that if any two will agree together, touching as one, that it would be done by our Father, so I join together with my sister in the Lord, agreeing that her air passages would be clear and free before the day’s end, and that she will be able to speak and even SHOUT Your praises this weekend! In the mighty, matchless name of Jesus and in the power of YOUR sweet Holy Spirit I pray, amen.

        God bless you Cindy!

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