City Boy, Country Boy


They called George “City Boy” when he came to visit his Aunt Sudie’s farm for the summer.  He was scared of the horses and often scared of the cows and never left the henhouse without a couple of broken eggs.  Oh, he tried hard enough, but he just didn’t have the right feel for green grass and country air.


On one of the hottest days in July when the Kansas wheat was ready to harvest, George discovered from bits and pieces of overheard conversation that a big threshing machine that separated wheat kernels from the straw stalks would be ready soon for strong, honest working men.  George decided to be one of them, thus proving his manhood and his worth, in spite of the blazing sun and blowing dust.


In a borrowed pair of overalls and a large straw hat George took a couple of strolls around Aunt Sudie’s busy kitchen where all the girl cousins were fussing about with bowls of gravy and platters of roast beef.  Neighbor ladies were putting out chocolate cakes and cherry pies on extra tables and there were piles of fried chicken, mounds of potatoes and plates of pickles, and fresh breads-white, brown and even black Russian rye.  It looked as if the garden and root cellar had been furiously raided.  George left smiling.


The women set out benches and tables on the porch and under the trees nearby, ready for the crews of hungry men and boys.  They were just putting the plates around when little Charlie and Bub came running up, hollering over the roar of the threshing machine.


Aunt Sudie asked, “You boys were supposed to take that pail of cool water to the men what are you doing back here?”


“It’s George!  He’s got a snake up his pants leg!”  they declared.  “He’s got it by the knee and he’s running funny and holding it down!”


Sure enough, a figure came running out of the clouds of dust.  It was George bent over in a funny way, scrabbling along, holding his knee and ankle and yelling something about a rattler.


Aunt Sudie often boasted she wasn’t afraid of “man, beast, or devil!”  But, she blanched the color of her apron and ordered everyone to rush out to meet the victim.  She pushed George down on the ground and ordered the circle of women to get back-even though they were armed with frying pans and butcher knives.  Then, she ordered George to let go of the critter while she rolled up his pant leg, planning to grab that viper quick as sin.


She rolled, she grabbed and pushed George to a standing position and when everybody screamed and gasped she pulled out the dog-gonedest, fiercest grasshopper any city boy every saw.


Later, it was said that the laughter could be heard down through the years.  I know it’s true because George grew up and married my grandmother’s sister.


Mary Elizabeth Mruzik

Pacific, Missouri