When I was a youngster, back around 1947, we lived on the outskirts of town. It was nice. We had a big open field, a big grassy yard, a garden, chickens, two dogs, two cats and two other animals.

My grandmother called them “burros,” my mom called them “donkeys” and my dad called them another name. I was 7 years old when they arrived and they became my pets, my chores and my responsibility. Daddy would do the heavy work, such as getting the hay bale down and cleaning the stall, and I would do the easy work, such as giving them the grain or hay and hanging up the bridle. There was only one bridle, as I was the only person in the family riding the donkeys. I was an only child.

Their names were Peanuts and Candy. We didn’t have a saddle, just a bridle. To mount a donkey, I would stand on a chair or a fence or whatever was the correct height to get on and ride. They were a bit potbellied, but that didn’t bother me at all. We would walk around the field and the donkey would turn left when I pulled the reins that way or right when I pulled the other way. It was very enjoyable and made me feel very important when in control of these magnificent animals.

Donkeys are known to be stubborn. I never experienced any stubborn or bad behavior until one day when I wanted to go around the field another time but Peanuts wanted to return to the barn. A donkey will throw you off but not quite like a bucking bronco you see in a rodeo. A donkey will run straight forward, stop suddenly and put his head down to the ground. This causes the rider to slide forward down the beast’s neck and land in the dirt. That afternoon, Peanuts decided it was time for me to grow up. He ran, stopped … and put his head down.

As I ran to the house, my nose was bleeding, my palms were scraped, my jeans were ripped on the knee and my knee was scratched.

“Daddy, Daddy!” I cried. Daddy showed up at the back door, opened the screen and said, “What’s up, Toots?”

“Peanuts threw me off into the dirt and I got hurt!” He checked me over and realized I wasn’t hurt badly as I stood there sniffing and feeling sorry for myself.

“Where is Peanuts?” He asked.

“He’s still in the field,” I sobbed.

“You didn’t take him back to the barn?”

“No,” I whined. “He didn’t want me to … he wouldn’t let me.”

“Kay,” my father informed me. “Go down and get him. Let him know you are the boss and put him in the barn. And don’t ever again in your life let a jackass tell you what to do!”

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