With the arrival of May comes the monthly genealogy blog party challenge issued by Elizabeth O’Neal on Heart of the Family.
As Elizabeth points out, May brings to mind several events, such as May Day, celebrating the arrival of spring, May Day that honors workers and the May Day call issued as a distress signal.
She suggests a number of topics for the May genealogy party:
- Stories of ancestors facing adversity
- Suggestions for how to write about tragic events
- Disastrous weather events in history
- Illness, endemics, and pandemics, including COVID-19
- Medical treatments
- Wars and invasions, including current events
- Ancestor injuries and deaths
- May Day celebrations
- International Workers’ Day/Labour Day
- Other holidays and celebrations held in May
In spite of all these subjects, I had a difficult time coming up with today’s story. I like to write something new for the genealogy blog party and I’ve written about many of the above topics in the past.
However, I don’t write much about myself so I’ve decided to share my own May Day! (as in distress signal) accident.
In December 1963, my family left my beloved Passaic, New Jersey and moved to Wayne, a town about 10 miles northwest of Passaic.
Our backyard was huge, mostly grass on a slope with several areas where trees and flowers were planted. I turned 12 years old that spring and was “appointed” (not particularly willingly) as my dad’s garden helper.
I remember that April Saturday morning being a really nice spring day. My father hadn’t cut the grass yet that weekend and it was several inches tall. I decided if I was going to have to work outside, I’d go barefoot and enjoy myself.
My job was to rake the garden corner on the back right side of the yard.
I was quite surprised to look at the property online and see that much of the yard is unchanged. We had a row of hedges all along the sidewalk, no fence. The main difference in the corner is that a second smaller tree has been planted on the right. Given the size of the tree on the left, I’m quite sure that same tree was in the yard when we lived there.
Today, there is ground cover below the trees, but back in 1964, it was dirt and flowers.
My job that day was to rake out any leaves and debris and then loosen up the dirt to get it ready for mulch.
To accomplish this task, I used both a regular leaf rake and a heavy metal rake, that looked like this:
After a busy morning and a lunch break, I was back outside working and again went barefoot. I was pretty much done with getting out the debris and had moved on to raking the dirt with the metal rake.
For whatever long forgotten reason, I set the rake down, with the prongs facing upward and did something – maybe get a trash barrel or took a bathroom break – and then got back to work.
I walked up the slope towards that tree and, where the red arrow is in the yard image above, I stepped on that metal rake and collapsed in pain.
I stepped down so hard that I had two full punctures wounds in the bottom of my right foot and a third prong grazed the outer portion of my foot.
I hadn’t seen the rake because the grass was so tall!
I was immediately in tears and called for Dad to help me. He came running over, scooped me up in this arms and put me in the car. Our family doctors’ shared practice was less than two miles away and, back in those days, some doctors still had Saturday hours.
When we arrived, Dad again scooped me run and ran into the waiting room. My foot was bleeding a lot and the nurse took me in right away.
About an hour later, Dr. Irmiere was finished stitching up my foot. A pair of crutches appeared and I hobbled back out to the car.
I was immediately sent up to rest in bed with my foot propped high under some pillows. I remember it hurting a lot that evening, but felt a lot better by the next morning.
In spite of feeling better, I was told to remain off my feet for a couple of days so I missed school. By the time I could get around easily with the crutches, I did go to school, but instead of having a sore foot, I had very sore arms. Crutches definitely were not any fun!
From my May Day! call experience, I learned two very important lessons.
- Don’t go barefoot in the backyard.
- Be sure to stand the gardening tools upright against the fence or a tree and face the dangerous portion of the tool away from me.
For many years after, damp weather made my foot ache. That hasn’t happened for a long time, perhaps because I live in the much drier Southwest.
I didn’t want to post any gross photos, so this is a cropped image of my foot at the arch. It’s very difficult to see anything, but the right arrow is pointing to a spot that, if you look very carefully, is whiter than the rest of my skin. There is a second, smaller scar where the left arrow is pointing.
Although they are hard to see, I can still immediately feel both places where those prongs went into my foot. Ouch!