Summer picnics with blankets, baskets, sandwiches, chips and watermelon…those are special times with family. When I look back to my favorite picnic, I imagine some things a little different. My first picnic on the maroon La Sabre hood occurred when I was around six years old. You see, my dad was a farmer in southeast Missouri and when it is corn picking time, you have to do it when it is ready and the weather is willing.
Mom would call out, “Laura, your dad needs supper brought to him, do you want a picnic?” “Sure, ” I would reply. I was just six with red hair braided in the back, freckles and two front teeth missing. I loved having a picnic, but at the time I didn’t know it would turn out to be on the hood of our family car. The car was a maroon 1972 La Sabre’ Buick with a white roof. All the pick-ups were in use because dad had two hired hands helping out during the busy harvest season.
I would go fetch the green plastic carrying piece from the basement that would become a makeshift picnic basket. That first picnic supper consisted of cube steak fixed in the skillet, tomatoes and bread, canned green beans, mayonnaise slaw and peach cobbler. It was a meal fixed good enough for a king. Well, my dad ranked higher to a king to me. He was a gentle giant to me, almost six feet tall; blue coveralls and a International cap was the standard dress code every day. He wore lace work boots and always carried a tuff-nuff pocket knife from Buckners, a pen in his front pocket for figuring and plenty of loose change. I couldn’t wait to visit him in the corn fields where they were busy combining. Sometimes, I even persuaded dad to give my a couple of rounds in the field before I had to return home for bed.
Mom would spread out a plastic tablecloth on the hood of the car, mom and dad would lean against the car and I got the best seat in the house-right on top of the hood. We would always start with the “God is Great’ prayer, enjoy the delicious supper, and the fellowship of being together. Dad would give me a hug good night as mom packed away all the empty Tupperware containers. Mom and I headed home, as the sun was setting in the west.
As I look back to the first family picnic in the field…I wondered, was it the food, the family, or the field that made this tradition an extraordinary experience? I know it was the combination of all three, but mostly the love of my parents working hard for each other to survive the hardships of farming. Oh, I wish I could go back to the field one more time with my parents and enjoy a picnic on the hood of that old car.