When Larry Met Patty – by Larry Briggs


It was 99 degrees and climbing that August afternoon on the Deck Jones farm near Sperry.

Several of Deck?s grandsons, including Ron ?Bunky” Jones and his brother, Cliff ?Spike” (who lived next door to Granddad and Grandma), me, and my brother James ?Butch” Briggs, were hanging out around the big tin barn on the edge of the cornfield. This barn had always been a place of refuge for the grandchildren. It was the place to get away from the adults, whether someone wanted to try a puff on a cigarette, or steal a ride on Ribbon or Snip, a couple of Granddad?s horses.

Nearby, the old corn crib, affectionately known as the ?Lonely Pine Cabin”, simmered in the summer heat. Spike and I had furnished it in the best of primitive ranch furniture, that included bunks made from weathered two-by-fours covered with high quality feed sacks. Reminders of our rugged lifestyle hung everywhere, including rusty horseshoes and discarded pieces of harness. After all, we were living the rigorous lives of frontier ranchers and hog farmers on the vast fifteen acre spread.

Summer was winding down and we would soon have to report for the fall school term, leaving behind the wonderful memories of summer on the farm.

I remember having climbed up onto the rafters to take care of some business. From my vantage point, high above the straw-covered earthen floor of the barn, with a good view out the open loft window, I could see Ron?s purebred Ayreshire heifer grazing lazily in the distance. Cousin Ron, who happened to notice my precarious perch, decided he would take advantage of my vulnerability. He slipped out into the barnyard, spied a fresh cow patty, and proceeded to shift it onto a ten-foot-long one-by-twelve plank. He tiptoed to the front of the barn, carefully hoisted his payload and catapulted the fresh patty through the loft window at his helpless cousin. The fresh alfalfa hay ingested earlier in the day by Ron?s heifer had created a rich mix of manure, which by now had found its way into my mouth, ears, eyes, and nostrils. Needless to say, I jumped blindly to the floor some twelve feet below, unable to breathe. Laughter changed to panic as the others realized my plight.

After snorting my nostrils clear, coughing and spitting the green mixture from my mouth and throat, I was still wandering around unable to see. Bunk or someone found a discarded gunny sack and proceeded to wipe out my eye sockets. Once the initial crisis had been dealt with, I sprinted for Uncle Johnny?s house where Aunt Kathleen led me through her meticulously-kept house, over the inch-thick carpet and into her bathroom. There, patty and I parted company for good, as her remains disappeared down the drain of the sparkling white bathtub.

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