March 29th…“TELL US ABOUT ONE OF YOUR EARLY CHILDHOOD BEST FRIENDS.”
Snuggled among the valley of soft adult coats and shawls is where newborns were often placed on the bed for naps in the sweet days gone by. When farm neighbors got together for fellowship, it was customary for folk to lay their great coats and other accouterments on the host couple’s bed for safe keeping. In 1954, that is likely where I first met Davey Mutschler. Of course, being relegated, at the time, to the drooling drivel of baby sounds, we likely just smiled (from gas) and reached out our pudgy, non-coordinated hands in attempts to touch each other.
In the land of a small drink….Mini Soda….(Minnesota….Hehehe!) I could always count on a wonderful playtime with my farmer boy buddy, Davey. I can still see his dear grandmother, Genevieve Mutschler, walking with my pal into our small farm kitchen and Davey presenting me with a small green truck on one of my birthdays. Davey’s toothy grin said it all as he saw the glee on my face from receiving such a kind gift.
Another boon to our nurturing friendship was that we both enjoyed Sundays when our families worshiped at the same church in our hometown.
Many adults touched our lives in that house of worship, but a favorite of mine was dear Mrs. Marlys Jean Stavely Kraus. Many blessings to her heart and memory. Mrs. Kraus would lead us young souls in a child-related study of the Word of God during our Sunday School hour and even helped us create an “Open Bible Cutting Board” one year for Vacation Bible School. Each day, after Vacation Bible School had ended, Davey Mutschler and I would burn off some energy chasing each other around that quaint church neighborhood after the preacher’s last AMEN was said. A happy blur flew by of two buzzing little farm boys engulfed in uproarious laughter and could be heard by all as we cavorted in playtime around that church house on Sunday afternoons. Memories, such as these, bonded my love for my fellow farm neighbor buddy even more.
Eventually, that thing called age caught up with us growing wiggle worms and we two farmer boys had to board the school bus and start attending school in nearby Kiester. Tiny as we were, in those days, our bus driver (Marie Meyer) assigned three of us youngin’s to one seat. It was the second or third seat right behind the bus driver, so we knew we’d better behave. We had no worries, though, Marie Meyer loved me and Davey and cute little Colleen Wiehr as we sat under her watchful gaze via that super wide mirror just above Marie’s head.
As the big, yellow banana of a bus bumped along the gravel roads towards school one day, Colleen Wiehr shocked the two of us seatmates. She had cut her finger somehow and rather than roll herself up into a little girl crying scene, she did the strangest thing; she stuck her injured finger into her mouth and started sucking the blood. Davey and I were agog with our eyeballs wide as saucers at viewing this scene. What really had us quizzically looking at each other was when Colleen pulled that injured finger out of that oral cavity and said, “Yummm, my blood tastes GOOD!!!” 😉
On some happy occasions, I would have the grand joy of making the journey on my bike, or Shetland pony, up to Davey’s farm for a playtime visit. The Mutschler farm was only about 2 miles to our north, but at my age, it seemed like 20 miles when you’re pumping those small 20″ bicycle pedals a thousand times around and round on a thickly graveled road. Davey’s mother, Priscilla, was a very lovely blonde-haired lady who welcomed me cordially into their handsome farm home. Like any little one, I enjoyed being part of the Mutschler kid family for the day as we watched cartoons, enjoyed playing catch, explored their woods, etc. with Davey and his siblings. I was blessed by this young friend in many ways.
I’m told that the only thing consistent in life is change. And, that change came in late July of 1967 when my parents sold our farm and began plans to move our family out to Washington State. I had to say goodbye to my pal that had been so faithful over the years. It was a sad occasion, but I was determined to ‘keep in touch’ and follow his life via our hometown newspaper and from his beloved grandmother who often called or traveled out to visit us in our new home “out west”. From what I gleaned, Davey had married his high school sweetheart and followed in the time-honored occupation of his father by pursuing an agricultural career near our dear hometown. In 1998, I saw my buddy one last time while my family and I were back in Minnesota on vacation. Now a father and grandfather, Davey had been a blessing to all those he touched with his faithful life and love for others.
“Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants” Psalm 116:15 (NIV). I kept musing upon that Bible verse when I heard of the death of my childhood friend. Folks can correct me if I’m wrong, but I had heard that my pal was approaching a country intersection and was killed instantly when another driver “T-boned” his vehicle from the side. It’s been 14 years (as of this writing in 2023) and I still find it hard to comprehend that his fine godly man is not still reading stories to his grandchildren, playing baseball, watching the Minnesota Twins play on TV or working his rich farmland. I AM, though, so grateful to the Lord above for granting me the pure joy of knowing a dear soul of a man named, David Douglas Mutschler! He was one of the wonderful blessings of this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.