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Cow Poker

When I was a kid, my family lived in Florida. We lived right smack dab in the center of the state, kind of like Madera is in the center of California. I lived in the county seat, again just like Madera. The town was about the size that Chowchilla is now, which is the size Madera was at that time. No wonder I am so comfortable in the wonderful town of Madera.

During summer, we were out of school for three complete months. It meant more time to play outside and go swimming at the Civic Center, which was where I spent much of my summer time. Every year we took swimming lessons. It was such fun!

When my dad took a vacation, it was always two weeks taken all together, and we went to visit family. My mother was from North Carolina and my dad was from Alabama, so traveling to those two states was how we spent our vacations every year. We did not go to Disneyland or Universal Studios or any other resort areas. We visited family, and we loved it.

Daddy always made traveling such fun. I got car sick, so I slept quite a bit. Each trip, Daddy put a piece of plywood over the back seat and he covered it with soft blankets, so it was both a bed and a playpen. During the trip, we would laugh and sing and tell stories. We played games in which the whole family could participate. One of our favorites was when Daddy would quiz us on the make and model of a car that was getting ready to pass us.

In those days, cars were easy to identify, as there were not nearly as many as there are today. All cars were American made. This was before we had any of the foreign imports from Japan or Germany or any other countries. Daddy would call on one of us and ask what kind of car was coming. There weren’t any prizes in this game, but we had fun playing it.

Then there was that wonderful game that most people know as “Cow Poker.” We didn’t call it that. I don’t think we had a name for it, but we enjoyed playing it. There are two sides of the road, and each team would take a side. When we passed a cow pasture, we would count the cows. If a team got a white horse on their side, they got extra points (I don’t remember how many points it was). If we passed a cemetery, it killed all of that team’s cows.

My favorite game was called “Alphabet.” (Secretly, I still play that game when I am on the road.) Again, each person or team takes a side, and they look for letters of the alphabet on signs. Each side starts with the letter “A” and goes through the letters in order. Back then, “X” was hard to find because it was before we had all the freeway exits. The letter “Q” was also a hard one.

Life was simpler in many ways when I was a child. Our family enjoyed spending time doing things that didn’t cost much, and my parents were always very careful with their money. I am thankful for that, as I do believe that we enjoyed so much more as a family because of their frugality. It is not money or wealth that gives us joy. Times spent with family are precious.

Have a great week.

— My love to all,


• • •

“Teach a child to choose the right path, and when he is older, he will remain upon it.”

— Proverbs 22:6

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