Saturday, March 24, 2012

Attack of the Bumble Bees!

Attack of the Bumble Bees

This is one of my most vivid memories of my childhood. I was six and Linda was eight. I was a great fan of a lot of the westerns on television and as a result, kept begging my dad to get me a horse. One day he told me that our friend’s mother, Imogene, told him to bring me over to ride her pinto pony. I was so excited.

The only other time that I had ridden a horse…well, it was a pony…was at the drive-in movies. They had ponies connected together in what looks like a big wagon wheel…a pony at each spoke. I was probably five years old and in love with that pony. I remember as I held the saddle horn, wishing that we did not have to be walking in a circle. I think every child was probably wishing the same thing…but for some reason, my pony got disconnected and began trotting through the aisles of cars. How exciting for me. I was giggling and loved the sound of my voice as I was bouncing on the saddle. People were grabbing for the pony from their cars and there was quite a commotion behind me as people on foot were chasing us. Of course, the pony was eventually stopped and my wild ride was ended. My dad had to assure the men in charge of the ponies that his daughter was not traumatized and would probably want another similar ride.
I found a picture similar to the pony ride at the drive-in.  I don't remember
the one I rode having a fancy seat on the saddle like these have.

 Anyway, back to my next ride…this time on a real horse…not a big one, but for a five year old he looked gigantic. Dad put my sister on the saddle first and walked her around the field while my mother and I watched from the fence. I hoped that he would let me ride on my own and not hold on to the halter, but I knew he wouldn’t. Linda’s ride was over and it was my turn. How wonderful! I felt so tall and grown up as I looked down at everyone. Dad told me to relax and hold the reins but that he was holding the halter since I did not know yet how to ride a horse. He told me the horn was really not to hold onto, but if I felt like I was going to fall to grab it. He told me a lot of things about how to ride, but what I really wanted was for him to let me do it on my own.

Suddenly, the horse started dancing sideways and trying to rear. I grabbed that horn and was quite thankful that Dad was able to get the horse under control…although it was still dancing. That is when we saw the bees! The horse had stepped in a nest of bumblebees. They were swarming around us in a fury. I will always remember my dad’s words.“Jackie, sit very still. Do not move. We are going to slowly walk to the gate. When it is opened I will take you off the horse, and you must walk slowly to the house and get inside. Do not make jerky moves or the bees will follow you.

”He saw Linda and Mother at the gate and told them to open it and head to the house. Linda got wide eyed and opened the gate. She waited for me and we went to the house. The last thing I remember is my mother running through the field. She was screaming and rolling on the ground. She looked like a cartoon character that was being chased. We were so frightened, but Imogene rushed us into the house and would not let us out.

 We finally saw mother crawling up to the house, worn out. Her pants were wet where she had actually peed her pants. That really scared us. If you know Maxine, our mother, she always looked perfect in her clothes….now her blouse was torn and dirty, her glasses were gone, and her hair was a mess…yes, her hair was a mess.

“Are you all right, Maxine? How many stings do you have?” asked Dad.

“My glasses, my glasses, you have to go get my glasses!!” That is all she panted out as she crawled up the steps to the porch.Dad went back out to the field and got her glasses after he made sure the horse was safe in the barn.

 Mother was sitting in the kitchen with us surrounding her in great concern. Imogene asked each of us to check and count our bee stings. By this time Dad had returned with the glasses and checked Linda and me. Linda had a bee sting on her eyelid and her eye was already swollen shut. She had another sting right where her arm bent and it was swollen too. I don’t remember having one sting, but Linda told me later that she thought I had at least one.

 We all looked at Mother to see what damage the bees had done to her.“How many stings do you have?” my dad asked

.“I don’t know…I don’t think I have any,” she said…a bit sheepishly. We all looked at Dad and realized that he had so many stings we could not count them all…most of them on his head. Imogene put a baking soda water mixture on the stings, but we knew he would probably have to see a doctor. I don’t know how he did it, but he drove us home….and I think he went to bed.

 The doctor came to our house and was quite concerned that there were so many stings in my dad’s head. My dad missed at least a week of work…which was quite unusual for him. I don’t remember much about his recovery, except that we tried to be very quiet and that his room was kept dark. Maybe Linda can add something if she can remember. After everyone was back in good health we were able to look back and laugh at the whole thing. It was remarkable that Mother did not have one sting, yet she was the one we were all concerned about. She never was able to live down the jokes we made about her crawling up the steps to the porch. Somehow, I knew that if I asked to go back for another ride on that beautiful pinto pony, the answer would be NO…so instead, I found that riding Mr. Walker’s (who lived down the road) steers…was almost as good.

My parents, Maxine and Mort....many years later.


  1. Jackie,
    I'm so glad to realize you have this blog. What a delightful story! You painted the picture of the event so carefully with your words I felt like I was right there with you. I laughed at your story of the pony at the drive-in and can imagine you with the much bigger horse wanting to be on your own riding. I was quite surprised to find the horse had stepped on a beehive. Ouch! Not a good day. However, the picture of your mom rolling around was quite a tale. I really expected her to be covered with stings.


  2. Vivid. Vibrant. Visceral. Bravo!

    - Lewis