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Fathers who make things for their kids

July 20, 2018

Our family in the cabin we built with logs Dad chopped down and put together. From left to right: Pert, Terry, Dad, Nancy, Melodie, and Mom.

Another Way for week of July 13, 2018

About My Dad

Guest column by Nancy Ketcham

Editor’s note: Nancy Ketcham of Wakarusa, Indiana, is the oldest sister of columnist Melodie Davis. She writes about her memories especially of their dad, inspired by Another Way’s “Father’s Day” column. Second of two guest columns by readers while Davis is on vacation.

The first thing I remember when thinking of my earliest memories is that Daddy would lay down on the living room floor after a big farmer’s dinner (noon) to rest a little before heading “back to the field.”

He liked it very much when I would sit on the floor by his head to comb and even braid his hair while he took a short nap.

I also remember the long blocks he retrieved from the chicken boxes which baby chicks used to come in. My next youngest sister and I built tall towers, stacking them like Lincoln Logs.

The playhouse that Nancy’s father, Vernon, made for Michelle (right). She and her father, Stuart, restored it to its original condition before our little grandsons were born several years ago.

I remember all the play stuff Dad made for us outside, oh my! Three big swings on a huge old tree with large swing branches, a monkey bar set with a sturdy teeter totter attached, and also a sandbox with seats on the side. And then of course there was the playhouse! It was just our size with a perfect door, windows that slid up and down, cupboards, and a kitchen sink.

Later in life he made one for my daughter, and one for my sister (Melodie) who also had a daughter (and then two more daughters). When our family visited them one year when my first granddaughter was three, she played in that same playhouse which now has been renovated by my sister’s oldest daughter and her dad. The playhouse now looks lovely again.

When I was young we used to play Indians and Cowboys in our “catalpa woods.” I was the squaw cooking on an earthen floor and pretend campfire, resplendent with an old kettle we found in the woods in which we cooked our beans. We tried to make our pony, Flicka, enter the woods so we could play real Cowboys and Indians, but she did not like to go in the woods; so my sister played the cowboy, and discovered stuff in our so-called caves.

I remember walking or riding bikes a few miles to the neighbors to play with their kids—Eli’s, Rassi’s, the Grove’s and a few more. We also would play “Seven Steps Around the House” in the dark with our cousins at our house, an exciting and scary game!

Dad made a pony cart one year for us four kids for Christmas. It was a surprise he parked outside the dining room window, for us to find on Christmas morning. It was big and Flicka wasn’t very crazy about being hitched up to it. If you are thinking our pony wasn’t very agreeable, you are wrong. She was wonderful: I could stand on her back and feed her popcorn and she had a couple of foals!

What did we play inside? We had no TV until 1963 when Kennedy died. Long winter evenings were spent playing games with Mom like Authors, Scrabble or Gusher. Every Sunday night and Wednesday night were spent at church; Dad was the deacon and expected to be there. We often went to visit “shut-ins” after church on Wednesday night, but if we were lucky, Dad would turn the car towards Dairy Queen and we would each get a five-cent cone! We also played checkers, Chinese checkers, or Dominoes with Dad. Later in life Dad taught us all how to play Greedy and The Farmers Game. I then taught those games to my grandkids and great grand kids. I used to make games as a kid: Clue, and Concentration are two I remember making.

The cabin we built near the woods and a pond, before any cement sealer was between the logs. Nancy took this picture of Pert, Terry and Melodie.

We also played in two creeks: one was close to the log cabin for which we cut down the logs and built. It had a fireplace and cool loft our friends loved. We could swim in the pond, watching out for blood suckers of course. We also fished. The other creek was across the road (on our property) by a second woods, but mostly we steered clear of that creek because it supposedly had sinking sand and Dad also found rattlesnakes back there.


Our farm home taken from a window in the barn.

We had what seemed like endless farm work: cultivating, cultivating, cultivating—we made up a song like that. And we gathered thousands upon thousands of eggs—a daily chore. I won’t go into that.

Regardless of the hard work, Mom and Dad would plan a family vacation every summer. Some trips I

Dad reading his Bible in the Rockies, Colorado on a family camping trip out west.

remember were to Hannibal, Missouri, Niagara Falls, Soo Locks (Mich.), Kentucky, church camps, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Kansas, California, Montana, Colorado, Oregon. Washington State and Washington D.C., Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, South Dakota, and more. Maybe I should have just named the states we didn’t get to.

On the whole, I had a whole lifetime of experiences while growing up on an Indiana farm with my two sisters, one brother, and a great Dad and Mom.






I’m so glad my sister shared these memories, because siblings often remember different things! Do you have any memories your siblings don’t seem to recall?

Do you have different takes on the experiences you both recall? I’d love to hear!


Comment here, or by emailing me at or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  

  1. Melodie, thank you for featuring another writer in the family, sister Nancy. Your dad was a loving, godly man and handy too it turns out!

    • Yes it is so nice to have Nancy’s voice here. She writes some for her church and I don’t know what else, but she is also a gifted basket maker and painter/artist who sells at craft fairs sometimes. She passed me this write up at a family gathering at her house and I was just delighted! I remember her combing dad’s hair, and I remember the scent of his aftershave and the gel like stuff he used to put in his hair to control it (used to have curls when his hair was longer. Thanks for your comment!

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