Helen Runs Away

Helen Runs Away


Until I was 12, we lived on my Grandfather’s farm [as I have indicated in previous tales] in a tenant house. It had two stories with three bedrooms and a bath upstairs - the bath had been a closet at the end of a hallway which had been converted when indoor plumbing was added to the house. Anyway, my sister, Helen had a room to herself and I and my two brothers occupied the other room at that end of the upstairs. I had the room to myself until I was three and Steve and I shared it until i turned seven when we added a bunk bed to accommodate Warren. Of course, my parents had the biggest room, in the front of the upstairs.

Anyway as you can see, there were four of us eventually, three boys and one girl. Even though she was the second oldest, she always felt that we ganged up on her. A curious notion, since at the time of this story, Warren might have been two years old and the idea that he would gang up on or tease anyone is certainly ridiculous even to this day. And, certainly, as the oldest, and the one who set the example for the others, I was too mature to tease or aggravate Helen in any way. So, maybe it was Steve.... Anyway, I need to get back to the story.

First, though, I have to tell you about asparagus. Yes, that green stalk eaten as a vegetable and often as a delicacy everywhere. Well, it (asparagus) was one of my grandfather’s cash crops. It is time consuming to get the roots to the point of fruitful harvest (usually 1-2 years from a seed or seedling). But, once the roots begin to produce stalks worth cutting for marketing, they will continue to produce profitably for 10-15 years. Before the world became such a small place and crops grown round the world are available everywhere, asparagus was considered a golden crop since it grow in the spring and only produced marketable shoots for about a month. Once its productive cycle was over the shoots would be thinner and produce a bush of feathery leaves about 2-3 feet high.

Wait, isn’t this a story of Helen running away? Hold on, I’m getting there, just bear with me a bit longer. Our house had a large asparagus field that started on the west side of the house and wrapped to the back. And earliest  and fondest memories of spring was that of my mom or dad (and later when I was big enough) taking the asparagus knife hanging in the shed of our house and cutting enough for dinner! (picture at left is an example of the type of knife used).

Okay, now for the story, one day, Helen felt that she had been picked on and tormented by her brothers to the point that she no longer wished to be a part of the family. She announced that she was running away from home and would not be returning. She packed a few things and left out the back door into the rows of asparagus bushes (which ran perpendicular to the back of the house). She travelled to the end of the field (probably 200-300 yards) and used a blanket she had packed to make a small shelter - a tent like affair. 

We were quite concerned and spent the afternoon looking out the back window from our room and giggling (from worry of course).

Well, the afternoon dragged on and dinner time approached and mom’s cooking (though not to be compared to Grammie’s next door) was always looked forward to. Soon, just as we prepared to sit down to eat, Helen appeared and announced that she had decided to give us one more chance, but if that didn’t work, she would run away again the next day.

Addendum to the story

I was informed by Helen that there were some parts of the story missing. My memory is of course generally very good, but it is possible that she remembers parts I may have forgotten or maybe she remembers what she thinks may have occurred. Whichever, you be the judge and I’ll present her version completely unbiased.

During her sojourn from the house to the place she set up camp, Helen remembers being followed by some brothers and harassed the entire journey. SInce it is known that none of her brothers were of a mind to tease anyone (except Warren - but he was way young at this time), these alleged brothers may well have been the two who lived next door. In any case, it does appear that she was harrassed as she left home and I’ll leave it at that.

Davdan @ 2008-2018