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This page by Judy Rose

Memories of Vinco School

"On Top of Old Smokie"

The most memorable "end of school" I can recall was the end of my seventh grade year at the Vinco School. My best friend at the time lived on what was Utopia to me; "the farm," to her. A year ahead of me in school, this was her last year in what was called, "back then," grade school. The next school term would bring a rite of passage for her—high schoolleaving me behind to spend one more year as a "kid."

How to make a grand exit from the world of childhood to the "cool" universe of Teen-dom was the topic of conversation for many days prior to the "last day." Eventually, after much brainstorming and pondering all the possibilities, the lights came on: We'd take Smokie the horse to school as a "Show and Tell" and offer pony rides to anyone brave enough to climb aboard the old nag for a walk around the schoolyard.

Not exactly kept for riding purposes, Smokie was mostly just a "pasture horse" content to wander his domain, graze on grass and clover, and swish his tail at the occasional annoying fly.

On the "big day," my friend rode Smokie to school through the woods and creeks and along the back roads from Mundy's Corner to Vinco. I rode the school bus as usual. Smokie was a "hit," and the pony rides went off without a hitch. Smokie was well behaved and so were his passengers, and soon the last day of school was over and it was time to head for home.

Not wanting to ride home alone, my friend requested that I ride behind her on Smokie's back. Climb on top of old Smokie we did, and headed for home through the woods. Smokie, sensing home was near, became a little unruly and, ignoring the "whoa's" and rein pulling, started off in a heated trot toward home, bouncing us on his back as he raced through saplings and bushes that slapped at our faces, arms and legs.

After all these many years, I can still hear the "whoa...damn it... whoa"s. The slapping of the saplings and bushes were the least of our problems. All that bouncing and running had worked the saddle loose and soon we were listing dangerously to one side! Finally pulling Smokie to a halt, we climbed off and proceeded to recinch the saddle which Smokie had grown mighty weary of.

Smokie started to buck and jump around in an attempt to get away from the dreaded saddle and his riders...the situation was one to very determined horse and two very scared kids.

We got Smokie home that day...or did Smokie get us home? Whichever, the trek home involved walking and not riding.

And Smokie? Smokie returned to his pasture to graze on clover and grass and to swish his tail at the occasional annoying fly.

—Judy Rose


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