Growing Up Kansas - The Old Pick Up In The Field

Growing Up Kansas - An Old Pick Up in the Field

I grew up in Kansas. As you grow up you collect memories. This is one of them.

Summers were hot in Kansas when I was a kid. My cousins and I were out in the heat all day long. We played in the woods and rode our bikes all over town. We wore high top sneakers and overalls and didn’t even know it was a fashion statement. Our favorite place was grandmas.

She lived on a dead end street across the ditch from a cemetery. Across the street from her house was a huge vacant field. She had chickens in the yard, a dog, and didn’t watch us very closely. The ditch always had water in it along with a few abandoned cars. We had a rope swing that took you out over one of the cars. We could drop into the water or try to make it back to the top of the ditch. The cemetery was big and spooky but offered lots of hiding places. We made sling shots from tree breaches and old inner tubes and hunted birds and squirrels.

On the fourth of July the whole family would go to Grandma’s for dinner and fireworks. In the field across the street there was a dilapidated chicken coup on the side by the ditch and an abandoned pickup truck located in the middle of the field. The grass and weeds in the field were seldom cut. Don’t know who owned it but we knew every inch of that field.

I was the youngest of the three cousins. Whatever they decided to do, I did. I say this because it wasn’t my idea to get into that old pickup, it was their idea. The tires were flat and the springs were in the dirt. The body and bed had rust holes big enough for a fist. The windows were all up. It had been in the field as long as we could remember. We tried the passenger side first but it wouldn’t open. Dennis opened the driver’s door and held it. I got in first and scooted across the seat to the passenger side. Doug got in next and Dennis got to drive. Made sense, he was the oldest.

It wasn’t until Dennis slammed the door that we heard the buzzing sound. The nest was in the driver’s door. Dennis got stung first and when he tried to get the door open, it wouldn’t budge. By then Doug and I were getting stung. We were beating and slapping the wasps and Dennis was hitting the door with his hands and shoulder which only made the wasps madder. We were all stung a few times before the door flew open and we got out. The wasps followed.

At this point some of the adults noticed us, probably because we were screaming and running from that truck at Olympic speeds. Our arms were flailing trying to swat the wasps. From a distance, we looked pretty funny. Three kids running across a field screaming and flailing and not even going in the same direction had to look a little strange. Of course they couldn’t see the wasps. When we finally made it across the street, we were greeted by laughter and jokes that we didn’t think were too funny. We got some medical treatment from my aunt who was real stern with us except for the grin on her face. I think she put vinegar on the stings. Maybe that was why she was grinning.

When we were done with the treatment, someone got the idea to see who had the most stings. It became a contest. My dad and uncles helped us count. Dennis had the most with 12.

We went back over to the pickup about an hour later and kicked the door shut just to prove we weren’t scared. That pickup sat there for years but we never got in it again. One day someone cleaned up the field, the pickup was gone and so was the chicken coup.

By then Dennis had a 57 Chevy and we had a ride.

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Comments 31 comments

GNelson profile image

GNelson 5 years ago from Florida Author

JamaGenee, I was with my cousins too. Outside most of the time.

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

So did we! Well, we thought we did. I'm sure our parents knew *exactly* what we were doing at any point in the day, thanks to the Neighbor Telegraph, even blocks from the house. Back then, a stranger stuck out like a sore thumb, so there was very little chance of getting snatched off the street. At aunts and uncles farms, there was usually a dog along to send for help if we (cousins and I) got into *real* trouble, which oddly we never did. If we got into a jam, we figured out how to get out of it ourselves and went on our merry way. ;D

GNelson profile image

GNelson 5 years ago from Florida Author

We use to run away from home for the day and were never missed until dinner time which we never missed.

JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma

I grew up in Kansas and even after "escaping" several times, kept moving back. The summers are STILL hot as blazes, btw. My parents lived in town, on a block where my only playmates were my brother and two other boys, so I can relate to days spent roaming the neighborhood and adopting several vacant lots (as well as a few interesting backyards of uncomplaining neighbors). Wasp stings, bee stings, falling off bikes and out of trees. Roaming from sun-up to sundown with little or no adult supervision. Yep, that was the life! Really a shame today's youngsters don't have that freedom, to explore and learn the lessons in common sense that develops independence and self-sufficiency.

moonlake profile image

moonlake 5 years ago from America

Enjoyed your story. Sounds like us growing up in California. We also had a field to play in and we spent all our time in that field. Our kids grew up in a house with a field behind our house. They were always in that field building forts, and climbing the one tree that was there. They also got into a nest of wasp.

GNelson profile image

GNelson 5 years ago from Florida Author

Peggy W, It was funny from a distance. We never lived that one down.

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

Growing up in the countryside of Wisconsin, we had lots of outdoor fun with fields surrounding us, a woods and my grandparents house just a short walk away. Loved it and really enjoyed your memories of growing up in Kansas. That HAD to be a funny sight with the 3 of you running, screaming and flailing away at those wasps from the adults perspective (especially since they couldn't see the wasps). Haha! Voted up and will share this with my followers.

GNelson profile image

GNelson 5 years ago from Florida Author

Poetvix, It was fun. We were outdoors all the time.

poetvix profile image

poetvix 5 years ago from Gone from Texas but still in the south. Surrounded by God's country.

It sounds like you had a great childhood full of fun, frolic and adventure. I wish more children today had such but so many of them find adventure only in a computer game and have never been in the woods. Thank you for sharing a piece of Americana.

GNelson profile image

GNelson 5 years ago from Florida Author


Kansas was a great place to grow up.

mljdgulley354 profile image

mljdgulley354 5 years ago

A great story. Wasps are painful. My daughters live in Kansas so I could relate to this story. Hope my grandchildren will have good memories from that flat state

GNelson profile image

GNelson 5 years ago from Florida Author


That must be where recycling got started. What a great idea!

justateacher profile image

justateacher 5 years ago from Somewhere Over The Rainbow - Near Oz...

I think everyone from Kansas has similar stories! I can't remember how many times that my cousins and I did something that we later knew was one of the dumbest things we could have done. My grandparents cure for bee and was stings was chewed up chewing tobacco! I swear to this day that it really worked!

GNelson profile image

GNelson 5 years ago from Florida Author


Good times weren't they??

gmwilliams profile image

gmwilliams 5 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

To GNelson: Great hub about your childhood in Kansas! It reminds me of the summers I spent with my maternal grandparents in South Carolina.

GNelson profile image

GNelson 5 years ago from Florida Author

Paul, Thanks. I think we all did.

Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul Kuehn 5 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

This is a great story. I grew up in a rural area in Wisconsin and had similar experiences growing up.

GNelson profile image

GNelson 5 years ago from Florida Author

Maggydawg, you are right. I learned that you don't have to be going very fast to get hurt in a truck.

GNelson profile image

GNelson 5 years ago from Florida Author

samhirata, Thanks for stopping by and reading my little tale.

GNelson profile image

GNelson 5 years ago from Florida Author

barranca, Nebraska is a whole lot like Kansas. Big, flat with lots of places for a kid to have fun.

GNelson profile image

GNelson 5 years ago from Florida Author

Will, we had something back then that the kids today miss.

GNelson profile image

GNelson 5 years ago from Florida Author

mactavers, I do not know of a better place to grow up.

GNelson profile image

GNelson 5 years ago from Florida Author

dahoglund, Yes we spent a lot of time outside exploring with only three channels on TV..

maggydawg 5 years ago

Kansas was a great place to grow up with all the open spaces. This was a wonderful experience and a learning experience too for young boys.

samhirata profile image

samhirata 5 years ago

Great story!

barranca profile image

barranca 5 years ago

Enjoyed the memoir. I spent a lot of time in Nebraska, so I can relate to a lot of the imagery in your narrative.

WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Great story, and a trip back in time. I remember similar stuff from my own childhood.

mactavers profile image

mactavers 5 years ago

Kansas is like a beautiful time warp with old soda fountains, great small town cafes, wonderful auctions in the summer, and don't forget it is the home of Val-O-Milk candy. Great Hub

dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

I like it. I grew up in a big city but I remember my uncle raised chickens in his yard. The kids were always drawn to investigate old buildings and stuff. We certainly would have got in that pickup if it were there.Despite dangers like you describe, I think kids miss out on something now.

GNelson profile image

GNelson 5 years ago from Florida Author

Thanks Peter, It is a lot more fun to tell than it was to experience.

PETER LUMETTA profile image


Great story of growing up, we all share those times well with each other. Those are best times, loved it GNelson, thanks,


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