A Horse With No Name by
(34 Stories)

Prompted By First Memory

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I really hate that song, but it’s the only one I know that fits with this story, so I’ll live with it.

I don't know the name of the horse.

I might have been three years old.  The house faced on Orchard Street, Second Street was on the right as you looked out from front of the house.  In those days, parents would let their kids play outside without having mom and dad hovering over every movement.

So there I was, out in front, when driving down Second Street I saw a man driving a cart pulled by a horse.  A horse!!  I was so excited that I ran to catch them, not even thinking about the fact that there was about a six foot drop from the house to the sidewalk, down a set of stone steps.  Down I went, and then up I came, screaming in pain and with blood flowing from my chin.

Off we went to see Doctor Jones, the same doctor who had brought me into the world a few years earlier, and who would liberate my tonsils from my throat a few years later.  Three quick stitches and I was all fixed up.

Now I don’t remember the other times at all, but apparently I had a very flat learning curve.  I was told years later that this happened not once, but three times.  And so, if you look closely at the bottom of my chin, you can see the evidence of nine stitches there.

And I don’t know the name of the horse.

Profile photo of Jeff Gerken Jeff Gerken

Characterizations: funny, right on!, well written


  1. Ouch…that’s quite a drop! And then you got me chuckling towards the end, and finally laughing out loud. And thanks for the ear worm…NOT!

  2. Suzy says:

    Uh oh, are we going to end up competing for song titles? We may have to coordinate to make sure we never use the same one!

    Great story, Jeff, and the title fits perfectly, even if you don’t like the song. That horse caused quite a fall! Seems like your parents should have put a gate on those stone steps, at least until you got old enough to avoid falling down them.

  3. Marian says:

    Despite your fall and stitches calamity, I laughed too, Jeff. And to think you don’t remember the other two times you fell down those steps. A horse was a justifiable distraction for the one you do remember.

  4. Ah Jeff, you poor kid, sorry about your stitches.
    I must have had childhood scrapes as well but don’t remember any major ones.

    On the other hand as a toddler my son had many. After one particularly bloody fall we took him to the hospital and he was lying on a gurney as we waited for the doctor. Both my husband and I must have looked away for a minute and the kid came tumbling off the gurney and hit the floor..
    We quickly picked him, and looked around to be sure no hospital staff saw our parental negligence. Needless to say when the doctor arrived, we didn’t tell!

  5. Betsy Pfau says:

    Excitement definitely won over caution for your three-year-old self, but why wouldn’t it? Seeing that horse going up the street was thrilling I’m sure, and off you went. Who had time to think about the plunge ahead…no matter how many times it might happen. Children of that age do take a while for lessons to sink in, so I’m not surprised to hear about multiple falls.

    In my current home, the front steps aren’t nearly as steep, but I was talking to our contractor at the front of the house (we had construction going on; many years ago), while my children played in the backyard. I heard screams from the back, took off like a shot and sprained an ankle. Not as bloody as your cement encounter, but even adults have step mishaps, Jeff.

  6. I actually like the song a lot! And I really liked the way you plugged it into the last sentence of your story.

  7. P.S. Is that Dr. Jones in your featured image? He looks a bit like Spielberg.

    • Jeff Gerken says:

      That is not Dr. Jones, that is yours truly! June and I were at a Celebration of Literacy event at the Columbus Public Library when a reporter took our picture. A few weeks later, the picture appeared in Columbus Style Magazine, certainly the only time my name and the word “style” have ever been associated. I had to excise June from the picture, however, as she does not allow her likeness to be used in any kind of social media.

  8. Khati Hendry says:

    I wonder how many of us have scars under our chins? I know I do–it was a mishap with a bicycle I was taking downstairs to the basement–whap, whap, whap. We also have memories of playing unsupervised in our neighborhoods. And the tonsils. Perfect title and story.

  9. Laurie Levy says:

    I loved this story, Jeff. I can still remember an occasional horse clomping down the street as a kid, along with the ice man (would would give us shavings) and the milk man (who would give us rides). Like you, I was told to go play outside. No adults were watching me to notice these wonders.

  10. Great story, Jeff. Another casualty of concrete steps, one up one down. It’s funny that you bring up the horse and the cart, particularly in view of the recent news about the withdrawal of several Dr. Seuss, most notably “And to think that I saw it on Mulberry Street.” That’s how it all starts . .

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