On a farm north of Fort Collins, Colorado, and later, Disney movies to 1967
Dad was building his herd of Shorthorn Cattle, a breed of short, stocky cattle from Scotland. Soon the farm turned into a ranch and was known as “Shamrock Shorthorn Ranch.” The sign out in the driveway looked like a big Shamrock that we had hand-lettered and painted white and green. It looked so nice and we were all so proud.
Dad worked closely with the college in Fort Collins, known at the time as Aggies or Colorado Agricultural College. It has another name now. He landscaped the fields for a more effective way to water his crops. He had a big dam built in the pasture so he had water for the fields and the cows. I’m not sure about this but I think the water turned out to be alkali water and was not usable. I do know we didn’t drink it and had to have our water delivered to a cistern.
Dad won top honors in statewide soil conservation contests. Our family resided on that farm/ranch for 25 years until 1955 when the hail and bad weather forced Dad into retiring from farming. That is when he purchased the John Deere Dealership for northern Colorado, southern Wyoming and western Nebraska. It was very successful. That way Dad continued to see his farmer friends and hear amazing stories and learn more funny jokes.
I graduated from Timnath High School that year. In November of 1955 I married John Clayton Bateman. We settled in Golden, Colorado in a motel unit so Jack (nickname) could continue his college education under the G.I. Bill. He was interested in petroleum engineering and geology. He studied long and hard while working for Adolph Coors after classes. His books were so interesting I would sit and read them while he studied. We studied and hiked around the formation of rocks at Red Rocks outside of Denver. This little old farm girl certainly got her education looking for fossils, seashells, and many other formations on Tabletop Mountain.
I worked at the telephone company and on the weekends I worked at a creamery. That is where I purposely made more malts and shakes then would go into customers containers. The remaining was poured into a container I kept in the little top opening freezer and when it came time to go home I had what I called a rainbow shake that we shared as our supper on the week ends. We were terrible poor like every one else going to college. I learned to frugally cook tiny amounts unlike I had been taught cooking with Mom. Mom, knowing that we did not have much, sent us some venison in the mail. By the time it got to our doorstep, it had thawed and the package was leaking blood. That poor mail man — I still wonder what he thought. I cooked it — but to the very day I do not like venison!
During a snowy cold, cold windy evening Jack was working in a ditch for Coors and badly hurt his back. He could hardly walk and came down with a terrible cold. He missed so much school while his back was healing, we decided to move back to Fort Collins. Our plan was to go back to Golden in the fall to continue college.
Jack went to work for Dad as a parts man at the John Deere business. He worked there until 1967 when he went to Alaska. The money was nice and Jack liked his work. We did not go back to Golden. In 1957 Gail Lynn was born, in 1959 David John was born and in 1960 Susan Renée was born, all at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins. They were all delivered by the kind Dr. James Hoffman, the same doctor that delivered my little sister and brother, Elaine and Jim.
Dad became a Grandpa! We visited Grandma and Grandpa every chance we got and every Wednesdays after the kids were 2, 3 and 5 years old, he delighted in taking us to the movies, especially if it was a Disney movie or a western. He continued to take us to movies every Wednesday and added his other granddaughter Regina Sue when she was 3, John and Joyce’s daughter. Her brother Mitch was not born yet.
The last big movie event before we moved to Alaska in 1967 was with Dad-Grandpa when he took me and my three kids and Regina to see “Mary Poppins.” We all dressed up for the event and Regina was dressed in a beautiful frilly red and white dress and little black shoes. She looked so pretty.
We all watched “Mary Poppins” and munched on popcorn. The music was so catchy and happy. It kept the kids’ attention throughout the whole show. One of the songs was “Feed the Birds” which Gail memorized and sang in a play at her elementary school The last song of the show is “Oh, let’s go fly a kite.”
When the movie was over we all filed out of the theater, hand in hand. Regina skipped out into the sunshine, let go of my hand and started skipping ahead down the sidewalk singing in her loudest voice “Oh YOU go fly a kite, up to the highest height. Oh YOU go fly a kite.” She repeated it over and over, singing louder and louder. I started to catch her and Dad caught my arm, “Let her sing,” he said, with a big smile on his face.
We all had smiles on our faces as well as everyone around us, listening to our little “Mary Poppins,” skipping down the sidewalk in the sunshine, singing at the top of her lungs “Oh YOU go fly a kite!”
This story is dedicated to Regina Sue McClure Bivens whose birthday was January 31 and lives in Wellington, Colorado.
And to her brother Mitch who was born February 20th. He lives in Ronan, Montana. And to my kids who live nearby in Nikiski and Kenai. Happy, happy memories. I love all the songs in Mary Poppins but especially “Feed the Birds” and “YOU go fly a kite”
And remember: Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be a living expression of God’s kindness.