Welcome to Cranky Puppy Farm!

This blog belongs to two Gen X-er's smackdab in downtown Kansas City where we've been renovating and decorating two old Victorians built in the 1890's. Our life is filled with 3 demanding Pomeranians (1 of them cranky, of course), honking cars, noisy neighbors and the hustle and bustle of city life but we dream of the day when we can move to our 40-acre farm and hear nothing but the wind and the cows next door. Until then, we're chronicling our triumphs and mishaps here as we try to garden and preserve on 2 city lots, raise chickens, and learn all those things we should have learned from our grandparents. Welcome to our world - we hope you'll stay awhile!

A Spooky (Persimmon) Tale

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Fall is my favorite time of year so it seems my memories of falls past seem to glow a little brighter than just about everything else.  Growing up, my grandfather would always send us over to Old Man Simmons' place to ask him for some persimmons.  My grandfather loved to eat 'em and the Old Man had the only trees in town.  He lived over by an old bridge on the outskirts of town in this decrepit old Victorian farmhouse that just about every kid in town (including me) thought was haunted.  It was pretty dilapidated with a weathered grey exterior and, quite frankly, looked somewhat abandoned.  The one sign of life was a light that burned constantly in one of the downstairs windows behind some tattered curtains.  In fact, every kid in town KNEW with absolute certainty that Old Man Simmons' house was haunted.

And, of course, persimmons ripen in October and we all had our young minds on the scares of Halloween, so the effect of the creepy exterior and crooked, bare persimmon trees in front just heightened our fear. Put the persimmon trees in front and a bunch more junk in the yard and this could be the Simmons' house :

Did I mention it was supposed to rain that afternoon, so the day was cold and very overcast?  The clouds were dark and low in the sky, pregnant with the rain that would later pelt me as I pedaled home.

That first year, I convinced a couple of strong-hearted friends to make the bike ride over to the Simmons house with me.  I was scared as a kid can be and no one - not one of my friends would cross the curb and go to the door.  My grandfather was adamant that I had to go ask permission before I took any persimmons.  The leaves swirled around us as we stood there for 10 minutes while I pulled together as much courage as I could to step onto the stone sidewalk, half buried and forgotten under the swirling autumn leaves.  I was feet from the luscious orange persimmons, but the thought of instantaneous death or entrapment by Old Man Simmons should I dare to try to steal one was enough to keep me from temptation.

I inched my way up the sidewalk to the porch and turned around to find every stinkin' one of my friends gone!  I pictured them furiously pedaling back home to tell their Mom to call the police, certain that I had become the "latest victim".  Do I run back to my bike or keep going?  Before I had a chance to decide, the door creaked open.  I'm now quaking in the new tennis shoes I'd gotten for school.  And then I hear "Well, hello!" in the sweetest little voice.  A small, grandmotherly-looking woman with her hair in a bun stepped into the doorway, drying her hands on her apron as if she'd just finished making cookies.  I could almost smell them wafting out of the doorway.  Wait...was she one of those evil witches who tempted kids into her lair with the promise of candy, cakes, ice cream and all those other sugary goodnesses that our parents wouldn't let us have?  Aaaaarrrghhhhh....the urge to run had come back with an urgency!

"What can I do for you, sweetheart?"  The question snapped me back into the moment.  "Uh...uh..uh....my grandpa sent me to ask if we could have some of your persimmons".  The words tumbled out with the alacrity of a jet engine.  I was shaking like there was an 8.3 earthquake going on underneath me.

"I see. Who's your grandpa?"

I swear my teeth were chattering as I told her.  The cold October wind picked up and the leaves  dance around me like some kind of evil ballet troupe.

"Well, of course.  We've known your grandfather for years.  You can take as many as you want.  Do you want to come in and warm up a bit before you go pick them?"

It was starting to rain.  One of the shutters, missing one of its hinges, creaked in the wind.

I didn't take her up on that offer, instead opting for thanking her and tucking as many persimmons into my backpack as it would hold and then doing the kid's version of "getting the hell out of there."

I would, however, in the following years, get to know both Mr. and Mrs. Simmons for the wonderful people they were.  They ran an antique shop out of the bottom of their house that was actually more of a junk shop, but it was filled from floor to ceiling with things that kids considered to be wonderous treasures.  Their house became a haunt of mine (no pun intended) and they would often let me paw through their items for sale and choose one for free.  I spent alot of my allowance money there also.

The Simmons' were both such nice people and it was until much later that I learned from someone else that they had lost their son, their only child, in a tragic accident several years before the day I set foot on their crumbling front porch.  I suppose they had become introverts after that, given the state of the house.  To this day, I think of them with a sense of both wonder and sadness.  They are both long gone and I wonder if the house is still standing.  If I ever make it back there, I'm making it a point to go by there and check.

I never told my grandfather about that first venture to see Old Man Simmons.  I've always wondered if he sent me there knowing  the absolute ghoulish fright it would cause in all of us.  I suspect he was grinning as we gathered our backpacks and took off on our bikes that gray afternoon to go get him his beloved persimmons. 

Do you have a frightful tale from your childhood?  Somebody make the hair stand up on the back of your neck?  Scare the heck out of all of us - leave a comment!


  1. Okay, I HAVE to ask... is that the very house???? We had many adventures as a kid in our old neighborhood, going up alley and down street on Halloween night... everything looked different and scarier, and I still remember running out the door with my little sister. Safe.... if slightly scary! Hope your MIL feels better by the day!

    1. Hi, Mary Ann! It's not the exact house, as I haven't been back there since my 20's. But the style is very close and it's definitely the same state of disrepair. Just goes to show you that you can't just a book by its cover, huh? They were so nice....

  2. Comment number two... S, will you please write me at Ksredhead1950@gmail.com????
    I have a question. Thanks!

  3. Good story! I have a few scary stories... one where I scared my friend and sister. We had an old organ we were all convinced was possessed and played by itself. It was kept in our dark, damp basement by an open window. I told the girls we should go look at it, and as they peered in I made my best organ impression possible. Scared them to death!! I could hardly calm them down - haha!


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