Farm Chores and Teen Angel

.  One of my first farm chores was to fill the cattle’s water trough. It was a concrete structure about 12 feet long and 2 feet deep.  In the summer, it seemed like it was always empty and In the winter, it would freeze and we would have to break the ice so the cattle could drink.  Sometimes we had to haul warm water from the house to the barn to help thaw the water out.  It was probably about 50 yards from the house to the barn, so carrying buckets of hot winter sometimes through the snow was no easy task.

old concrete water trough

To fill the cattle water trough   I had to go into the milk house and turn on the switch for the water to start pumping.   Then I had to watch it to make sure it didn’t run over.  When it ran over, it made a muddy mess for the cows to walk though to get to their water. The muddier the cows were, the madder my Dad was.  It created quite a mess for him, because these were milk cows and before he could attach the milker to each cow, he would have to wash the cows udders with soap and water.   Making sure the water did not overflow was an important job.

After I had proven that I could handle filling the water trough outside, I was promoted to the next step.  Filling the hog waters.  This was a little more desirable because the water for the hogs was inside.   We had several old wooden barrels that had been converted to hog waters and my job was to fill them each night after school.  This involved a hose hooked to a  hydrant just outside the door of the hog barn,  so I had to unwind the hose and drag it from one barrel to the next until all the barrels were full.  It was an important job but it was extremely boring.

To pass the time waiting for the water to reach the top of each barrel I would pretend I was on American Bandstand.  I would tie a piece of bailing twine (taken off bales of straw used for bedding) to the gates of each pen.  Then I would sing my favorite songs from Bandstand, grab that piece of twine (which in my mind was my dance partner’s hand) and dance, dance, dance,  My partner could twirl me around and we looked so cool. Picture 10-year-old me, dancing in the barn as the water overflowed… I would get so wrapped up in singing and dancing that the barrels would run over.  This was just as bad as running over the water in the cow trough.  Because if it got too muddy, dad would have to clean out the hog pens  by hand with a shovel and was not anyone’s favorite job.  I caught heck a few times about that, too.

Sometimes while waiting for the barrels to fill, I would pretend I was a princess locked up in a terrible place (what could be worse than a smelly old hog barn?)  A handsome prince would come and rescue me. We would, of course, live happily ever after.  It’s kind of ironic that the prince that finally rescued me was also a hog farmer and just relocated me to a different hog barn.

My favorite song to sing while watering the hogs was “Teen Angel”.  It was about 2 teenagers in love whose car stalled on a railroad track.   They quickly got out but the girl went back to the car to get her boyfriend’s high school ring and was killed.I still love that song.

Teen Angel was performed by Mark Dinning and was written by his sister Jean and her husband Red Surrey.  It was released in 1959, but banned by many radio stations.  Still it made it to the  Billboard top 100 in 1960. it was one of several “tragedy songs” that all appeared about the same time.   “Running Bear”   “Tell Laura I Love Her” and “El Paso” just to name a few.

(information from Wikipedia)


About Life in the 50's and beyond...

Welcome to Life in the 50's and 60's and beyond .... where I write about my childhood memories, music of the 60's and about life in the country. I am a mother, grandmother, farmer's wife, business owner, and retired teacher.
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9 Responses to Farm Chores and Teen Angel

  1. I sure enjoy your blasts from the past, Ruth. I love how you danced with the twine tied to the gates. What wonderful imaginations we had as kids.


  2. souldipper says:

    I remember all those songs, Ruth. But I confess, I didn’t listen right to the end of Teen Angel obviously because I didn’t know that was how she was killed. I guess the fact that I was about 8 made a little difference!

    Although always in the country, we never farmed. It was a treat to stay on a friend’s farm, but fun helping the friend with chores. A win-win for each of us. Yep, I remember having to “prime” pumps.


  3. Caddo Veil says:

    Hi Ruth–of course I remember the song, but didn’t recall the story within, maybe because I was only 8 at the time. So when did “Last Kiss” come out–a similar tragedy hit where the girl dies in the car crash? That one marked me for life, seriously. So–how are you doing with PT/rehab?


    • Funny you should ask about The Last Kiss. In 1964, J Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers was the group who made this song famous. J Frank Wilson has a connection to my little hometown… evidently he was traveling through our little town on the way to or from a gig, and was involved in a traffic accident. He spent the night in our little hospital. I always thought this was an urban legend, but later found out it was true! (Thinking alcohol was involved) Anyway, that was their big hit…. never heard much from that group again. Of course, Pearl Jam did a cover of The Last Kiss in 1999 (and a really good one at that!)
      Loved this song, too! Love you for asking!


      • Caddo Veil says:

        WOW, thanks (I think) for the song, Ruth–it still gives me shivers. Interesting back story–and I realize how ridiculous I’m about to sound, but I wonder why this and similar songs didn’t prevent so many young people’s fatal car wrecks? I guess it’s that thing about, “it won’t happen to me”… I’ve never driven, and have had a life-long phobia about car accidents. There you go, you heard it first! Keep workin’ that knee, girlfriend!


  4. lucewriter says:

    Great story. I love the pic and the video too.


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