Jan of the Jungle in the Barn
October 15, 2020
I grew up on a farm and lived there till I went to college at the age of 17. So the outdoors was with me. I’m remembering when I was a little girl, oh, I’m just gonna guess 3 or 4, maybe 5. Anyway, my grandfather lived with us, my father’s father. And he smoked. He rolled his cigarettes and he smoked. And I sat on his lap and he would tell me stories. I guess I must have wanted to smoke because I went out in the cornfield and I saw something that looked roughly like a cigarette. It was part of the stalk. So I went back into the house and I saw some matches. And I went out again because I wasn’t sure that what I was doing was kosher. I was playing with matches and with this cornstalk. And then I went back in the house and my mother said, “Joanne, what happened to you?” And I wasn’t aware of nothing. I had singed my eyebrows off. And so, I don’t remember the rest of what happened or anything but…
It’s hard to guess how old I was at the time. You know, I was 10 when my grandfather died. So I’m thinking 4, 5, 6 probably 5, 6. I don’t know. I have trouble remembering time. We have a weird relationship, time and me. Anyway, the other little incident that came out for me was… oh, my mom was a really good seamstress. And I must have had a comic book about “Jan of the Jungle.” Well, “Jan of the Jungle” wore this, let’s see, one strap kind of…it looked like a swimsuit. You know what I’m talking about. But it had one strap. My dear mom, she made me… It was navy blue. She made me an outfit. Well, there was a log barn on our farm. And they back stuff the hayrack into this area, and it was full of hay. And then als, there was a ladder going up the logs. And I could grab the rope that was attached to the pulley and I could swing like “Jan of the Jungle” over the hayrack full of hay and then plop down on it. That was just great fun. The athletic part of it and, you know, just feeling like I was just out there swinging with the best of them.
Anyway, my brothers and sister also, we climbed up and we would play among the bales, the bales of hay that were in the log barn. You know, they weren’t stacked totally neatly and I was just thinking to myself “It would be equivalent maybe to climbing hills that weren’t at all smooth.” And we would occasionally topple over a few bales. But yeah, it was fun. It was our camp, in a way. We were outdoors in the log barn. Yeah, some good memories.
The outfit that I used to wear back then … it wasn’t a costume, no. It was a “Jan of the Jungle” outfit for me to wear while I swung through the jungle of the barn. That was one of the sweetest things she did for me. You know, just a total gift, a surprise. She was a very good seamstress. She even made hats when she was younger. Out of a man’s overcoat, she made two little overcoats for the boys, Jim and Tom, and just a very, very skilled seamstress.