How old would you have to be to run-a-way from home?
I didn’t actually run-a-way but that’s what it was billed as. I’m thinking I was 4 or 5, kinda young huh?
We were living out west of Blackfoot Idaho at the time and my dad and his brother Ray were grubbing out a living on a farm for two families. We weren’t exactly rolling in the dough but as a 5 year old desert rat I didn’t know any better.
In our family there was mom and dad and 2 older brothers and a younger brother and yours truly, me. What’s that total, 5; yeah sounds about right. Okay 6. I never said my math was great. Uncle Ray and his wife Ann had 2 girls so 4 for them.
It was spring time so dad and Ray were daylight til dark on their tractors getting crops in. My 2 older brothers Kent and Bruce along with my cousin Derri Dee would get on and off the bus at the paved road to the north and west of us. Not sure how many miles it was from our 8 by 30 trailer that we were living in but it was a a few miles. An 8 by 30 trailer ain’t a lot of room for 4 little boys and 2 adults but I didn’t know that were crowded for space. Mom and dad had a bed outside under a canopy that they’d sleep in during the summer nights and often times baby brother Berry was in bed with them so us 3 older boys had the run of the trailer.
Ray and Ann and their 2 girls didn’t have any fancier living accommodations than we had but they were farming for a living, fancy homes cost a lot of spuds.
One spring afternoon Mom and Ann loaded up to pick up the 3 older kids at the bus stop. My younger cousin Judy was going with them and mom asked me if I wanted to go. I said no as I was busy playing in the dirt digging up rattles off of rattle snakes or farming with my toy tractor. As young as I was I’m not sure I should have been given that choice, but we were country kids and folks and we did a lot of stuff back then that you wouldn’t dream of doing now.
They hadn’t been gone more than a few minutes when I changed my mind and headed down the road after them; nice decision on my part, like I’m going to chase down a 49 Ford sedan on my 5 year old legs. Part of my thinking is that they would return the same way, they didn’t.
My journey took me west for a ways down a gravel road. Dad and uncle Ray were working a field on the north side of the road, to the south side was desert. I didn’t want to walk out in the desert as it was evening and that’s when the rattle snakes would start coming out. I stayed on the road but as dad and uncle Ray were working their tractors to the south I would hide and as they were working to the north I would run down the road until I was out of sight; good quality for a future Marine.
West of our farm the road turned north and when the gravel road met the paved road that was where the bus stop was. The paved road was the highway from Blackfoot Idaho to Atomic City and eventually to Arco; all desert country. The Big Southern Butte was easily visible from our farm.
I’m sure some of you are asking yourself ‘how on Earth would a 5 year old boy know all of this east, west, north, south and what highway was what’? Well I’m not sure anyone will buy into this idea but country folk grow up knowing such things and kid’s in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s had a far different life style than kids today.
As I turned north on my hunt for my mom the sun was starting to slip closer to the horizon, I didn’t want to be out there in the dark so I hurried a little faster.
There was not a lot of traffic on the road but whenever I would hear a car I would hide in the gutter; I didn’t want anyone to steal me away.
Somewhere along my north bound journey a set of railroad tracks crossed the gravel road. I don’t remember if I had crossed them yet but it was starting to get dark and I was scared and starting to cry when I heard a car pull up behind me and stop. As I dashed for cover my mom grabbed me.
Yeah I know, some of you are thinking I should have had my butt beat for scaring my mom to death and I’m pretty sure that’s what my dad had in mind and I was pretty sure that I was going to get a good paddling; it didn’t happen. My mom was so glad to have found me that she would have protected me from a Grizzly bear.
As time went on and that story was told and retold my dad claimed he was with mom when she found me but he wasn’t. As mom and aunt Ann came up on me mom said ‘their he is’ Ann replied ‘no, that’s just a tumble weed”; gives you an idea how big I was.
They had went home back east down the paved highway to Moreland and swung back to the farm a different route. Had they retraced their route back from the bus stop they would have seen me and I would have found my mom quicker. When they got to our little camp of trailers that we called home and no Brian mom decided the most logical thing that a 5 year old would do was track down his mom, she was right.
In the featured picture I’m dead center between mom and dad. Berry, the youngest of us boys wasn’t walking yet so I’m probably around 3 and a half, so add approximately 18 months to that and I have to say without doubt that I was one of the youngest ‘RUN-A-WAYS’ on record.