Sam and I continued to spend time together through the last days of the summer. I went to his house for the first time and met his family, who were all welcoming. His younger brothers were very curious about me, but I didn’t tell them much.
I remember that was the first time I used Sam’s privy. It was an experience, a rather smelly one! I couldn’t believe the family used it in the winter, and I decided that, someday, if I was able, I’d do something about it.
By the end of August, Sam and I had slept over at each other’s homes a few more times.
One night, Sam asked, “Joe, do you jerk off at night?”
I thought he was being pretty bold, but I answered, “Yeah.” I figured out from the question that he must, too.
“Well,” he said, “I’m really needing to do it now. Can we do it together or should I go into the bathroom?”
We ended up doing it together. In subsequent times, until we both married, we did it often, eventually moving to jerking each other off, but we never tried anything else. In those days, being recognized as a queer or a homo was very rare and only seemed to include boys who were so flagrant they couldn’t avoid the unkind names. There’s no way of knowing how many boys like us there were, who had definite feelings for other boys but couldn’t and didn’t express them.
On the Wednesday after Labor Day, I rode the school bus with Sam and others who lived on farms near us. Being new to the school, I was nervous, but I found I didn’t need to be. I was welcomed by everyone, from the school secretary to the teachers to the kids.
At lunchtime, I sat at a table with Sam and his friends. He introduced them all: Thomas, Clayton, Fred, and Tony. I listened to their happy chatter but didn’t say anything. After we’d been eating for a bit, Fred looked at me and observed, “You don’t talk much, do you?”
I smiled and shook my head. That got the other boys laughing, except Sam who knew my recent history and understood me.
“He doesn’t,” interjected Sam, “but when he does, be sure to listen, because he doesn’t waste words.”
My classes went well. Nobody seemed to be far ahead of me. I thought a few kids might be behind me, but not as many as at my old school.
As Sam and I rode the bus home in the afternoon, we talked about the day and the kids I’d met. He did caution me to be very careful around a boy named Weston, because, he said, Wes was bigger than most of us and tended to lord it over everyone.
I’d already met Wes and had decided I’d stay away from him.
As the school year wore on, I became increasingly comfortable. I liked the school and found that it was a caring place to be, unlike the school I’d come from. Perhaps that was because my new school was much smaller than my old one. I saw some of my classmates and teachers at church and we all seemed to get along. In school the teachers were informal and clearly cared about their students as well as the subjects they taught.
When the weather grew colder, the social hour after church moved into the parish hall. I tended to spend time there with my new friends, although I also talked with some of the teachers. I think it was the first time in my life I realized that teachers had lives outside of school. A few were married and had children. A few were very active in the church. A few lived on farms like I did, and we could talk about crops and harvesting and all that was involved.
One day Wes bumped into me in the school hallway. I was certain it wasn’t an accident, but I didn’t say anything. Later in the day, he bumped into me again and clearly he’d done it on purpose.
“What’s your problem?” I asked, confronting him.
“Don’t have one,” he said. “Do you?”
“Yeah,” I replied, “I have a problem with people who try to push me around.”
He smiled to himself and said, “See me outside at recess and we’ll settle this.”
I still had no idea why he was pushing me. Was it just because I was new?
I told the boys at my table about the confrontation. They said they’d be out on the playground watching and they wouldn’t let him hurt me too badly.
Recess came after lunch. I walked outside more boldly than I felt. I was so nervous I was nearly shaking, but I knew I couldn’t let Wes or anyone else push me around.
On the playground, I saw Wes standing alone in the middle of the yard. There were a lot of other kids there, many of whom had formed a large circle around him.
I pushed my way through the circle and walked up to Wes.
“So, squirt,” he said, loudly enough so that all could hear. “What’s your problem?”
“Being deliberately shoved by an asshole,” I said.
I heard a few of the observers gasp and others laugh.
Clearly, Wes didn’t like the laughing.
“I guess you need a little lesson,” he said. Stepping forward, he swung a haymaker at my head with his right hand. I could tell he wasn’t a fighter because he telegraphed his swing and I easily avoided it. He was so close to me I couldn’t resist and slammed my fist into his stomach.
I could hear the air go out of him. He moved back, regained his breath, and charged me. Again I moved easily to my side and tripped him as he swung at the empty air where I’d just been.
He fell to the ground, looked up and said, “Now you’re really gonna get it!”
Before he could get up, I sat on him, held my fist to his face, and asked, “Do you want this right on your nose?”
He struggled to get up. He was bigger than I was, but he wasn’t as strong. I realized he was a town boy and hadn’t been working all summer on a farm.
Finally, his head fell back and he said, “No.”
“Are you going to leave me alone from now on?”
“You’d better, because the next time I won’t stop until you’re in the hospital.” Then I stood up and walked away. My back was to him, and I half expected that he might charge me from behind, but he didn’t.
I saw one of the male teachers walking towards us. At first I thought I was in trouble, but he wasn’t walking fast, just sauntering along like he had all the time in the world.
When he arrived at where Wes was still lying on the ground, he reached out a hand to help him up. He said something to Wes before he came over to me.
“I saw the whole thing,” the teacher said. “I know that Wes started it. I thought about interrupting it right then, but you seemed perfectly able to hold your own, so I just watched. I don’t think you’ll have any more trouble from Wes. He’s a bully, but like most bullies, he’s a coward at heart.”
I thanked him just as the bell rang and we returned to the building. I received congratulations from many of the boys, and one said, “Thanks, Joe. You’ve made it safer for all of us.”
On the bus that afternoon, Sam asked, “Where did you learn to fight like that?”
“Well, I pretty much had to learn when I was in middle school. There were several bullies in that school, but we eventually got it all sorted out.”
He grinned, saying, “Well, I’m glad you’re here. A lot of the boys were scared of Wes and now they know what he really is, they probably feel a lot better.”
Neither Sam nor I was interested in girls, but clearly, some of them were interested in us, and it was hard to avoid them. Sam and I discussed the situation and decided that the way to keep most of the girls at bay was to select one and pretend to be a boyfriend.
I chose a pretty, dark-haired girl named Olivia. As well as being in school with me she was a member of our church. I found that flirting came naturally to me. We only met at school or at the church, so we didn’t do anything beyond occasionally holding hands.
Sam went through two or three girls before he found one he ‘could stomach’. Her name was Melissa.
In the spring we went on a double date to the movies. Olivia and I held hands during the show. I don’t know if Sam and Melissa did. After the movie we went for ice cream before Sam’s father picked us up.
By summer, Sam and I were closer than ever. Instead of always working in our own fields, we took turns, working together one day in his family’s fields and then the next day in mine. Late afternoon excursions to the creek occurred every day when it wasn’t raining. Sometimes, we didn’t even get in the water. We just lay on the grass, listening to the creek flow by slowly and taking time to enjoy each other’s bodies and satisfy ourselves.
On rainy days, we spent our time at one house or the other. We often slept over. I had become very friendly with Sam’s parents and even his brothers, so I spent many nights at his house, in his bed. Yes, we continued our nightly activities, relieving each other’s tensions. Occasionally I wondered what it would be like to kiss him, but I never did.
In the following years, Olivia and I remained together. Sam’s relationship with Melissa was a bit stormy, but they always seemed to work through their problems.
In our senior year, Sam and I talked about what we wanted to do after high school. Neither of us wanted to go to college. We both wanted to stay on our farms. When Gramps pointed out that if we continued schooling we could take courses that would teach us about modern farming, we thought about it but decided we could probably learn what we needed to know through courses held on weekends at a nearby community college.
In the early spring of that year, we asked Olivia and Melissa to marry us. They were both farm girls and knew that if they accepted, they would be living a traditional life of marriage, work on the farm, and children. They both accepted and we planned a double wedding at the church in June.
The wedding was well attended by families and friends, including some teachers. The two couples went our separate ways for our honeymoons. It was then that I experienced full sex for the first time, as I suppose Sam did. In fact, all four of us probably did. It was fine and relieved my needs, but it was never really adventurous or highly exciting.
That was okay. Sometimes I’d see a boy in town and lust after him a little. I knew I wasn’t quite ‘normal,’ but in those days, unless we were really obvious in our sexuality, we didn’t act on it. That was just the way things were back then.
In time, both Sam and I fathered children. Olivia and I had two boys and a girl, while Sam had three sons. The children all worked on the farms, at first doing small chores like feeding the chickens and collecting eggs. Later, when they were older, they worked in the fields or vegetable gardens.
To my great surprise, when I turned 21 I came into a considerable inheritance. My parents both had life insurance policies as well as savings, investments, and property. I thought about what to do with the money. I knew I couldn’t spend it all, even if I tried.
The first thing I did was to buy some machinery for the farm, so we could produce more and didn’t have to work quite as hard. For as long as I’d known there had been fallow fields on the farm as Gramps rotated them. Each year, he left a couple of fields fallow and cultivated the rest. With the new machinery, the farm could produce more, so Gramps simply rotated what was planted in the different fields.
The second thing I did was to give money to Sam and his family. At first Sam refused it, but I told him it was time his family joined the twentieth century. They got indoor plumbing with water pumped from the well and got rid of the privy. In a way, he was sad to see the pump and privy go, because they were a part of his childhood. His family all thanked me for the gift, being finally able to enjoy hot and cold running water and hot showers or baths.
When he was 68, Gramps dropped dead one day in the cornfield. We held a funeral at the church, and it was gratifying to see how many friends he had.
Gran lived several years longer, and eventually just seemed to fade away, until she died at the age of 75.
I missed them both, of course, but with my family around me I didn’t have a great deal of time to mourn. When my oldest boy, Max, turned twelve, I gave him the ring and told him the legend. I always felt a little naked after that, but he was a good boy, a good son, and I was proud of him.
Sam remained my special friend. We loved each other as brothers and more. Occasionally, we met in the loft of a barn and brought each other off, but still that was as far as we went. We continued as best friends and occasional physical ones for many, many years, farming our side-by-side properties.
When I grew older, Max began to take over more of the farm work, as Sam’s oldest son took over his farm. Our wives both died in their mid-seventies.
After that, Sam and I passed the time sitting on one of our porches. By then we had grandchildren and we doted on them. Max complained that we were spoiling them, but I told him that was a grandparent’s job. He laughed and never said anything more about it.
Sam and I spent most days just talking. I was still the taciturn one and Sam, as always, did more of the talking. Occasionally, on hot summer days, we went to the creek cooling off in the water and then letting the sun dry us. We knew some of our grandchildren did the same, but we never encountered them until one day, when Sam and I were sitting on the porch, he looked at me and asked, “Shall we?” I nodded and we walked through the tall corn to the creek.
Without speaking, we removed our overalls, which were all we were wearing, and climbed down into the creek. We lay down and enjoyed cooling water flowing over us. When we decided we’d been in long enough, we climbed out on the bank.
As we lay in the sun, drying off, we heard voices coming through the fields. From their sounds, we knew it was Seth and Greg, our oldest grandchildren. They were both thirteen, but Seth claimed superiority for being two months older. Seth was in my family while Greg was in Sam’s.
“What should we do?” Sam asked me.
“Just pretend to be asleep,” I replied.
We heard the voices and the rustling of the cornstalks coming closer. Then the voices and rustling ceased.
“Uh oh,” Seth said quietly.
“What should we do?” asked Greg, unconsciously echoing his grandfather.
There was silence until Seth said almost inaudibly, “Let’s just get in the water the way we usually do. After all, it looks like that’s what they’ve been doing.”
We heard them quietly remove their clothes and climb down into the water. We waited a few minutes and then sat up, gazing at our naked grandsons and their strong young bodies.
Sam looked at me, and I looked at him.
“Do you think?” he asked.
“Maybe,” I answered.
After a couple of minutes, we rose together. The boys looked over and I said, “Have fun,” and grinned at them. We put on our overalls and walked back towards my house. I wondered if the boys were doing the same things with each other’s bodies that Sam and I still did. I rather hoped so.
Many thanks to my editors, who carefully help me correct many of my errors. Also, thanks to Mike for maintaining this great site.