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story.lead_photo.caption Courtesy Photo Ginger was the Burkholder family's black-and-white-spotted Shetland pony who remained within the family for some 30-odd years and was loved by all of them.

The Burkholder family, all seven of them, moved from Pittsburg, Kan., to Eureka, Ill., and eventually to southwest Missouri. As the family prepared to relocate, it proved to be proficient at moving and gathered up all its worldly possessions. Clothes were packed, furniture was loaded, pots and pans were boxed, and the always cordial and obliging Ginger was coaxed into her trailer.

The Burkholders lived on a parcel of land located between the southwest Missouri Ozark towns of Pineville and Noel. The area alongside the Noel to Pineville Road was known to everyone as Blankenship Hollow. Larry's mother and father brought their clan, four sons and one lone daughter, to the beautiful rolling acreage in 1943 when Larry was a mere 4 years of age. They called this land home, save for a period of time following the great tornado that demolished the home, thus compelling Larry's father to move the family to a rental house in Noel.

The Burkholders were a resilient bunch and, not long after the country house succumbed to the swirling winds of the great tornado, a new structure was erected not far from the original house's foundation. This new house was built into a hillside and it would be called home for many years to come.

When Larry's mother and father, Eloise and R.J., welcomed him to the family, they lived in Pittsburg, Kan. Larry's father had already entertained thoughts of relocating the brood to Noel, but it wasn't until Larry reached the young age of 4 that he acted on those impulses and brought the family, and, yes, Ginger, as well, to the beautiful Ozarks.

Ginger, oh yeah, I guess I haven't yet fully introduced Ginger to you. She was the family's black-and-white-spotted Shetland pony.

Over the many years to come, the property nestled near the banks of Elk River would be a place where cattle were raised, a sawmill cut rough lumber into usable boards and, for a time, R.J. owned a Noel business, Noel's Ford tractor dealership. But more than just buildings and cattle and a river, it was a place where five children grew up.

As the ensuing 17 years passed, Larry and the other children played, attended the Noel school and often rode on the back of Ginger. The spotted pony never seemed to mind the presence of a small-in-stature rider or two and, when neighbors came to visit, their young children often sat upon the pony's back laughing as she gently walked them through the green summer grass.

Time, as it always does, slipped silently away and, as Larry entered manhood, he met Nancy. Larry knew that she was the person he wanted to spend his life with and the two were married. Not long after the couple held one another's hands and exchanged wedding bands, R.J. and Eloise announced that they were moving to Greenville, Miss.

Larry and Nancy never considered living any place other than the parcel of land which Larry had for some 17 years called home, so he purchased the property. Larry's parents once more gathered up their clothes, furniture and pots and pans, but this time Ginger was not walked into the home-built wooden trailer. The pony stayed on the land that she had become so familiar with and she stayed with Larry and Nancy. As Larry waved goodbye to his parents, he promised to take good care of Ginger.

Some years passed and Larry, Nancy and Ginger lived their lives on that parcel of ground. Ginger grazed on the summer grass while Larry and Nancy tried to make ends meet. Life isn't always easy and there were some turbulent times for the couple, but they never lost their love for the land and the promise to take good care of Ginger.

Then came the morning when Larry found Ginger's left rear leg entangled in a thin chain used to tether her to the porch railing the night before. Larry saw that Ginger had apparently struggled to free her wounded leg of the metal chain, but those efforts only caused the metal to dig deeply into her leg. As Larry untangled the chain and freed Ginger from its grip, he could see that the injury was bad, but what was he to do?

"Ah," Larry silently said as his thoughts brought to mind the only person who might know how to treat the wound, Frank Blankenship. Frank lived not far from Larry and Nancy's property and his property was home to several horses and mules. Surely he would know what to do.

A telephone call to Frank was made and, as Larry talked and even before he fully described Ginger's plight, Frank interrupted. "Put some hard oil on that leg."

Hard oil, what in the world could Frank be talking about. Larry was familiar with motor oil, cooking oil and even Castor Oil, but what in tar-nation was hard oil.

"I don't think I have any hard oil," Larry replied.

"You know, just plain ole axle grease."

"Oh, I've got a bucket of axle grease."

Frank then gave the would-be veterinarian further instructions.

"Slop a mess of hard oil on the gash, then wrap the danged leg with some kind of bandage and you just watch. In a few days she'll be up and walking; good as new, I'll bet."

"OK, thanks Frank. I'll talk to you later."

Following Frank's advice, Larry smeared some axle grease on the wound then wrapped the leg with strips of cloth torn from an old bed sheet. The ends of the cloth strips were tightly tied into a knot, and Larry said to the old pony, "just lay there quiet and everything will be OK."

Larry and Nancy frequently checked up on the old girl over the ensuing two or three days. Then one morning as Larry walked to her resting place, he saw Ginger standing and grazing on the sweet green grass. As days fell by the wayside, as they always do, Ginger regained her strength and, although she was left with a slight limp, she seemed like the old Ginger that Larry and Nancy knew and loved.

As time passed, the married couple made a life for themselves and their children. Then Larry learned about a parcel of land not far from the couple's house that was for sale. It was just down the road from the family's Blankenship Hollow home and Larry and Nancy decided it was time to move.

The couple lowered the tailgate on the old pickup truck and loaded up their clothes, furniture and assorted pots and pans, but the old trailer was not coupled to the rear of the truck.

There had come a day when Larry and Nancy wondered if something was wrong. Ginger had not been seen and she hadn't taken her daily walk to the river for a long drink of water.

Larry decided to walk the field and, as he moved through the tall blades of grass, something caught his attention. There she was. Ginger had laid herself down in the uncut grass and she would never again carry the small children on her back. Ginger had succumbed to the accumulation of more than 30-odd years of living. She was dead.

Larry isn't one to hastily discard nary anything of sentimental value and Ginger's trailer fell into that category. The former pony rider still has that old homemade trailer. When asked about the small pony, Larry's wry smile is testimony that he still holds such fond memories of the black and white spotted Shetland pony, Ginger.

Stan Fine is a retired police officer and Verizon Security Department investigator who, after retiring in 2006, moved from Tampa, Fla., to Noel. Opinions expressed are those of the author.

Editorial on 01/03/2019

Print Headline: Ginger And Hard Oil

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