The fallout from the birthday party continued when Mr. Awful got home and heard the sad saga of the missing birthday shoe. Loss of a shoe was a weighty matter in that time. Many families usually got shoes in the fall and perhaps a pair of sandals or tennis shoes in the summer to get kids through till serious shoe season in the fall. I suspect this may have been true at the Awful’s as well, since he bellowed at the kids and put them to searching for the lost birthday shoe.
Naturally, they returned to the last place the shoe was seen, the pigpen adjoining our property. They truly searched for a few minutes, this time not harassing the pig family. Before long, their inherent high spirits overcame them and they began sliding in the black mud and manure mixture created by the pigs. They were so joyous in their search, we watched enviously, begging Mother to let us join in the fun. Unreasonably, she refused, though she did join us in watching their fun. They cavorted in the ever-increasing slime till the entire pig pen became one enormous excremental slide, spread universally over the entire lot, erasing all the hills and valleys the pigs had carefully constructed for their wallows. From a running start, the kids could skid from one end to the other, spraying slop high on either side as they flew by us. The squealing pigs fled from one end to the other as the slimy kids approached them.
I have never been more jealous. Eventually, it occurred to Mr. Awful no one had returned with the missing shoe. He was reunited with his filth-encrusted children and shrieked his disappointment to High Heaven. “You kids better find that shoe or I’m gonna tear you up!” To demonstrate his intent, he picked a wispy weed and smacked his own leg, demonstrating the beating they could expect. I suspect those poor kids had never heard such a threat, since they set up a wail and started diving into the slop in earnest, eventually uncovering the filthy lost shoe near the feed troughs. I couldn’t tell a lot of difference in the search and what they’d been doing before, except that they squalled all during the real search, as Mr. Awful periodically shouted threats and swatted his leg with the switch to terrify them back into action. Altogether, it was a wonderful show.