Once Kayo was gone they set off for the farm.
Bobby sat in the back seat and thought about his friends. He would miss them. Mom had said he would make new friends. But still, he had played with Joe and Lynn every day for quite awhile and would miss them. He had played soldier and doctor and Lynn had tried to pee just like the boys when they stood inside the new house that was being built on York Street. Joe and Bobby had competed to see who could spray the furthest and the longest. Joe wrote his name on the new wall one time and he could only finish the first three letters of his name. Lynn just made a puddle a little bit in front of her. Suddenly Beth started crying, “I have to wee-wee; I have to wee-wee.” There were no towns in sight so they pulled off the road and she squatted in the ditch on the side of the road while Mom stood guard over her.
“I guess you can just pee anywhere out here in the country,” he thought.
Ahead of them on the right side of the gravel road was a group of trees. They were almost white in the March sun. He could make out the house, which sat back from the road. It looked pretty big. And he could see several other unpainted wooden buildings around the house. The car pulled into the dirt driveway and stopped. “Oh, honey, it’s beautiful,” said his mother in the front seat. She reached over and squeezed her new husband’s leg.
It was good to get out of the car. Bobby ran down toward the barn to see the horses. He couldn’t find them. He opened the barn door, which was hooked with a hook that dropped into a loop of metal fixed to the door frame. He could smell manure and old straw, but he couldn’t see any animals. “Maybe they are outside running around,” he thought and came out the way he came in.
“Bobby, go back and hook that door,” his new stepfather yelled, “you might as well get used to closing the barn door right away.”
“But there’s nothing in there.”
“Of course not, we have to buy some cattle. No one has been living here for several months.”
“And a horse. Where’s the horse?”
“No horse either. Nothin’ here but us people.”
“What kind of farm is this? No animals . . .”
“You kids have to get to bed now. Bobby, you have to go to school tomorrow.”
“School? Where is the school?”
“It’s a mile west and a mile south,” said Ott.
“How will I get there?”
“That’s too far!”
“No, we have arranged for the teacher, who drives to school from her place, to pick you up at the corner.”
The next morning he ate breakfast and then left for his ride to school. He walked out the back door, down the steps and into the early morning sunshine. A meadowlark was announcing morning. He could hear it but not see it. It was somewhere in the field of grass on one side of the house. His new dad had said, “Just walk north a few hundred yards to the corner and wait for Mrs. McFarlane. She’ll be driving a Chev.”
A few minutes later he returned to the house and walked in. His Mom was cleaning up the dishes and daddy was smoking a cigarette at the kitchen table.
“What are you doing here?”
He started to cry. “I missed her; I missed my ride.”
“How could you miss her? All the hell you had to do was walk north to the corner and wait. She went by a few minutes ago. I heard her stop. Thought she stopped for you.”
“I guess I went south.” “OK.” said his new dad, “I’ll take you this once.”
Bob got in the car and was quiet. They backed up out of the long rutted drive close to the house and his stepfather turned the nose of the car toward the gravel road in front of the house. There was a barbed wire fence on the edge of the yard running around a six-acre patch of pasture. The whole country looked like that with grass and sagebrush before the homesteaders came to eastern Colorado. At the road they turned left or north, drove four hundred yards to the intersection and turned left again. Bob would remember how to get to the right corner. One mile later they turned to the left again and in a couple of minutes they were approaching the one room school house that sat on a corner of a section of land that had their new farm on the corner diagonally across from the school.
“I waited a few minutes for the child, but when he didn’t show up I assumed you had other plans. Anyway you are here now! Welcome.”
The desks were all in rows as straight as arrows. In fact everything was geometric. The school was a square building placed in the center of a several acre corner of a section of land bound by gravel roads on all four sides. The outhouse was square; the barn was square. Sections of land were six hundred and forty acres or one mile square. From Bob’s new house to the school was a diagonal line from one corner of the section to its opposite or two miles on the road as they had come today. You could almost see the mapmakers in the state offices leaning over their maps to draw the straight lines that made up the map. You could stand in an intersection of gravel roads, face north and raise your arms so that your right arm would point to the east and your left to the west. The crops in the fields were planted in straight rows. The fences that kept the cattle in or out of those fields were straight. The trees that provided wind breaks for the houses were planted in rows, and the peas that would be planted in the vegetable garden by the house soon would be in straight rows.