My donkey

Updated: Feb 17


My father had worked as a plasterer on the construction of the first Disneyland theme park in Anaheim Ca. When that job was finished he decide on a career change. We moved into a building used as a restaurant. The location of this building was on the outskirts of a city where the farms were still intact and growing any number of crops. It was ten or twelve miles to the west from our location to the Pacific Ocean. We lived there from 1957 to 1967 1957 t0 1967. I was born in 1952. As we were notified that our le would not be renewed, my father decided to find another building to carry on the family business. My father found a very nice building down south near San Diego after some work looking for a new location. It was just outside of a town of 500 inhabitants called Bonsall, Ca. The large building was set back from the highway with a wide dirt parking lot. The building was built in the Mission, or Spanish style, with smooth white stucco walls, several arches, and a low red-tiled roof. We were now living in a new location surrounded by flower and vegetable farms. I was the first child picked up on the school bus in the morning and the last to get off every afternoon. The bus driver tossed his cigar unwillingly out of the doors as I climbed up into the very old bus each morning for the long and bumpy ride to school. Our building was surrounded by small hills as we were situated in a valley with The San Luis Rey River running by in the front of our property. Weeds and grasses grew everywhere around the building. One of my many jobs was to keep the weeds down in the front parking lot. It seemed like a difficult task, at best. But I had seen something that would solve that problem on my bus ride to school each day. A farmer had placed a sign out on his fence which read, "Donkey for sale. Price negotiable." I knew that I had found the answer to my problem of clearing the weeds at that first moment of seeing the sign. Somehow, I talked my dad into going out in our truck to talk to the farmer. After some difficult negotiations, we bought the donkey for $17.00. We brought him home in the back of the truck. I bought a chain to tie him up with and staked him out in the front of our restaurant most days. We placed a sombrero on his head for shade with holes cut for his ears. He seemed quite content, if not always agreeable to my important requests. I tied him up in the rear of the building to a long-dead tractor in the evenings. Unknown to me at the time were the individual and sometimes disagreeable personal habits of a donkey. A few of those habits are waking up very early in the morning, braying loudly, while passing large quantities of gas in a loud and energetic manner. That process sounds much like a small thunderstorm just out past the horizon. None of my family or neighbors slept very well after the donkey arrived. That was just one of the problems I now faced. The other was that I had very little supervision and had decided to take a rope and wrap it around the donkey's neck and ride it bareback down the highway now and then. That was a mistake. Donkeys have a very rough gate and the ride was not a safe or comfortable one. With cars passing rapidly and close by me on the highway, the donkey's disposition, and my lack of donkey riding skills, the results were fairly certain. After a week or of my antics and the noise from the donkey more than once, my parents came to a necessary decision. it was an easy one. The neighbors were more than glad to see the donkey being loaded into the back of the truck, once more for his trip back to the farmer. I received my $17.00 back, and the farmer got a new chain to tie his donkey up with. All parties were satisfied with the deal, my mother included. She had seen me riding the donkey as he headed toward the trees lining our property and tried to use them to knock me off of his back, more than once. My parents were busy with work and had little time to watch over me, thank goodness, but they weren't crazy. My early life was very similar to Tom Sawyer's, and I relish those days of youth, freedom, and danger.

R.C. Hand


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