Monday, May 30, 2011
Still life, with pony
I am about five years old. I’m wearing a white collared shirt and short pants. I’m sitting on the back of a large pony or a small horse, patting its neck. The sun is shining. There’s a barn structure in the background. I’m smiling at the camera.
There’s nothing written on the back of the photograph (still in my mother’s possession or I’d post it here). But it is the first time I visited a farm.
The photograph is so clear it’s evident that I and the horse are perfectly still. It could be a painting.
The farm belonged to my step-uncles, who were as old as my grandmother (and their stepmother). They were Uncle Eddie and Uncle Leo Jacob, the children from my grandfather’s first marriage. They had lived in New Orleans for many years, and then moved across Lake Pontchartrain to a farm near the little town of Ponchatoula, the self-proclaimed “strawberry capital of the world.” They raised mostly vegetables to sell in the New Orleans market (if you live in New Jersey you’d call it a truck farm).
My uncles were almost adults by the time my grandfather married my grandmother (it was her second marriage, too, but there’d been no children from her first.) So while my mother’s older siblings knew them as part of the family, my mother and her younger siblings didn’t.
But they were all Jacobs, and that counted for family. So there was an occasional visit to the farm in Ponchatoula. I’d like to say I have warm and extensive memories of visiting the Jacob farm, but I don’t. I don’t remember it at all. As I got older, I’d see Uncle Eddie and Uncle Leo at the occasional family reunion and the occasional funeral, but I really didn’t know them.
Their father – my grandfather – died of a burst appendix in 1935, long before I was born. But that photograph of me on the horse at my uncles’ farm connects me to them, and through them to the grandfather I never knew. It also connects me to a family that’s mostly scattered and seems to get together only for funerals now.
Uncle Eddie and Uncle Leo died many years ago, not long after my grandmother in the mid-1970s when she was in her 90s and they were in the 80s.
The farm was simply called the Jacob Farm. I wish I knew the horse’s name.
To see more posts based on the prompt “farm,” please visit the One Word Blog Carnival hosted by Peter Pollock. The links will be live at 10 p.m. Central time tonight.
Photograph: Farm with field by Petr Kratochvil via Public Domain Pictures. Used with permission.