Notice: This isn't a childhood memory but the tale begins at the homestead. Here we go.
After Hannah was born, John and I determined that it wasn't worth paying to have two kids in daycare, so I quit my illustrious purchasing career at Pre-Finish Metals and became a stay at home mom. Not working allowed for more trips to the homestead with the kids . I would kiss John goodbye, load the mini-van and set out for the 2-1/2 hour trip south. Jim would fall asleep in his car seat before we hit the first stop light and wake up as I drove down the lane to the farm. I was lucky to get 45 minutes of peaceful drive time out of Hannah.
I loved going there with the kids. They got to spend some quality time with Grandma (doing quiet things like reading books and drawing pictures) and Grandpa (riding the golf cart up and down the lane).
When Jim was around 5 years old and Hannah was 3, we visited Mom and Dad at the end of June or the beginning of July - during the Warren County 4-H fair. Lori (former 4-H fair queen) was visiting her parents with her two girls at the same time, so we took all the kids to the fair late one afternoon. After dinner, seeing the animals and lots of rides at the midway, we arrived back at the homestead well after the kid's bedtime. Even though the days were hot and sticky, the nights were still very cool. In fact when we reached the farm, I remember getting out of the minivan, looking up at the full moon and thinking it was way too cold for that time of year.
For some forgotten reason, we had to be back home in the Chicago suburbs early the next day. We left that morning, while it was still cool outside.
A couple days passed. I was cleaning up the kitchen after lunch and took the trash out to the garbage can in the garage. It smelled really nasty out there. Then I saw them. Flies. Flies covered the entire driver's side front quarter panel of our Dodge Caravan.
There was something dead under the hood of the van.
When we arrived back at the farm after the fair, some unsuspecting animal must have thought it was pretty darn cold that night too, crawled up under the hood of the van to get warm, and made the fatal mistake of sleeping in the next morning. It was a goner when I turned the key.
I loaded the kids in the smelly van and went to see if John's Uncle Chuck could help, but he was just as disgusted as I was and told me to take it to a service station. I called John. He said to take it to one of his customers - a muffler place by our house. The three guys who worked there - all of them named Tom - would help me out for the low cost of a case of beer.
I drove the van to the shop and explained my situation to Tom, Tom and Tom. John was in the midst of a meeting with his sales staff, but curiosity got the best of him and he took the time to call the shop for a status update. He put the call on speaker phone, so the whole room heard Tom #1's play-by-play of the scene. John and his crew thought it was hysterical when Tom #2 pulled something that looked like a long piece of dried jerky with some fur on it out of my engine. That ended up only being a third of whatever overcooked mammal had lodged itself next to the battery. Jim, who was munching away on cookies, was very intrigued by what was going on, and started climbing up the van grill to get a better look. Tom pulled more pieces out only inches away from Jim's face. I managed to jerk Jim away from the van, not drop Hannah and keep my lunch down all at the same time - a motherly trifecta.
I immediately loaded the kids back in the van and went directly to a store and bought Tom Cubed a case of Old Style.
Best $8 I ever spent.