Thursday, April 24, 2008

Memories from Uncle Dan

Sorry it's been a while since I've posted, but luckily I just got a package from Uncle Dan, living the sweet life down in Palmetto Bay, Florida, where is retired from his ministry. He had some really interesting stories to tell. I never knew he had Perthes Disease, but that is because he had fully recovered and doesn't use the crutches shown in this photo that he sent me.

Tomorrow, I will post more memories he had of his mother, Florence Harden. Here is the first part of what he wrote:

“I was born in the Lexington house. The doctor came out from Protection and I was delivered in the middle bedroom downstairs. I was the seventh child, the sixth son, of Paul and Florence Bard Harden. Since my mother did not know what to name me, she decided to name me for both of my grandfathers: Charles Harden and Daniel Bard. Thus I grew up as Danny. There was already a Charles (Coates) in the family, so I was known for my middle name.

When I was four, my mother noticed that I had a limp. She took me to Dr. Burkett. He examined me and diagnosed me with Perthes since he had a previous patient with that disease. But to be sure he sent me to Kansas City. Dr. Frank Dickson in KC agreed with the diagnosis, and I was placed in a cast, my shoe built up, and I was given a pair of crutches to walk on. That spring, a Church of God preacher by the name of Brinkman was holding revival services in Southwest Kansas. He was called to our home where I was anointed and prayed for. After the cast was removed, I showed no signs of a limp.

When my mother did not return to Dr. Burkett, he called her and said, “If you do not follow my instructions for Danny, I will not be your doctor.” My parents then started receiving medical care from Wichita. Dad was in the “trucking” business, and so mom would ride up in the truck to see the doctor in Wichita.

My mother always testified to my healing. My own memory was primarily what I had been told. However in 1978, I received confirmation of the miracle. I had come home to see my parents. Dad told me that Uncle Clarence was dying and he asked me if I would like to see him before I returned to Arkansas. Clarence was a patient at the Ashland hospital. When we went into the room, who should be there but Dr. Burkett. He was then in his 90s.

When my dad introduced me to the doctor, he said, “Paul, I know all of your boys, but I don’t remember Dan.” Then, looking me over, he said, “You aren’t the boy that was crippled, are you?” (Remember, this was 40 years later.)

I replied, “Yes, I am.”

He asked, “Do you ever have a problem?”

“NO,” I said.

He then replied, “Remarkable.”

It was then confirmed to me that, indeed, God had been gracious in healing me.

All seven of us kids slept upstairs in the Lexington house. Frances slept in the northeast bedroom. Duane, Willis, Bob and Lloyd were in the large southeast bedroom. Ray and I slept in the southwest bedroom. The only heat in the house was a big stove in the dining room. The living room was shut off. We slept in blanket sheets with heated bricks, wrapped in towels and placed at our feet. One year, Ray and I were fighting and one of us went through the bedroom window. It was terribly cold, but we had to sleep in the room until the window was fixed.

When I was six, we had a nice snow that covered everything. Ray and I were playing out north of the house where the sewer was located. Ray pointed to a depression and said, “That’s the sewer.” I disagreed, so he dared me to run across it. I did, and I fell into the sewer. Thankfully, it was not a deep sewer and the water was not too high. I remember my mother reaching down into the sewer and pulling me out. I was bathed in a wash tub and placed with my feet in the oven. We had a large wood-burning range in the kitchen.

We attended school at Lexington. Frances had married and the older boys were in high school at Protection. I understand that when they were in grade school, they rode in a buggy to school. The horse was kept in the little barn that was located on the school property. When I was in the fourth grade, Dad bought an old gray mare for Ray and me to ride to school. Since Ray was the elder, he got to ride in the saddle. Every day, I managed to get thrown off that horse. I was never a cowboy. When people ask why I left Kansas, I say, “I never learned to ride a horse, and I got chased out of Dodge.”

When Frances graduated from high school, she went to Dodge City to attend a business college. She and Junior eloped, and my parents did not find out about it until Christmas.

In January, my mother had a wedding shower for Frances at the house. It was a large party of women, and my mother did her best to make it nice. Unbeknownst to her, Duane and Willis had gone hunting and had killed quite a number of skunks, raccoons and other small animals. They had skinned them down by the creek, but they brought the hides back and attached them to boards so they would dry. (I believe they got a dollar a pelt.) When the hides were hung in the shed south of the shop, they produced a strong aroma right when the party was in full swing. I don’t think they were properly disciplined, but I remember my mother was extremely upset. She was already upset with my sister.

We raised pigs, and there were a couple of hog houses, one near the shop and another back near the field. One day, Ray and I started tearing the wood shingles off the hog house near the field. We had a lot of fun, but when Granddad Harden (Charlie) saw it, he was not amused. Dad was humiliated and he told his father that he had just raised a bunch of hoodlums. We never got a whipping for that.

We didn’t get toys for Christmas. We improvised for toys, but I do remember getting a set of Lincoln Logs, which I loved. We also had tinker toys, marbles and jacks. On cold or rainy days we played Monopoly, Chinese checkers and jacks. I remember that Granddad Harden gave each of us a silver dollar for Christmas. It was our most memorable gift. I saved mine up, and when Dad bought our house in Ashland in 1944, I saw a World Atlas at Ashcraft’s. I spent my five silver dollars for the Atlas. I still own it. That atlas showed all the ally and all the axis countries. It had all the military insignias.

Granddad Harden died in April 1945, just before VE Day. I remember Aunt Sue, his older sister, came for the funeral and stayed with us for a month. Aunt Sue had married Lewis, one of the original cowboys at the Weeks Ranch. He used to drive the cattle to Dodge for the market.

In the summertime, we moved our beds out into the yard to sleep. It was too hot in the house. Mom and Dad had their bed up on the front porch, but I remember sleeping in the yard and looking up in the sky and seeing the stars. When I return to Kansas, I always try to take one night and get out of town so I can see the stars. I spent my first 13 years growing up in that wonderful house that has been a home for five generations of Hardens.”


(I never knew that Aunt Frances had eloped with Junior, but I guess it worked out.)

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