Thursday, February 3, 2011

Thoughts on Thursday

What a day to sit and think about my life as I lived it.

Imagine if you would a backwoods country family of seven youngins and the parents living in a one bedroom house built out of the pine trees Pa cut down. The front of the house faced south and there was a long driveway. We had a long narrow kitchen/dining room with a door leading to the back porch which had the only spigot we had for water. No indoor plumbing in the house. There was the old cowhide chairs that sat around the dinner table at the head and one side. The side next to the wall had a long bench Pa made for five of us to sit on when we ate out meals. There were two double beds (full sized as they are called today) and one single bed (twin) in the one bedroom for us girls to sleep on. There were five girls and two boys and everyone used to sleep in the bedroom until we got old enough for separating the boys from the girls and at that time Pa closed in part of the front porch to make the two boys a room of their own. We all had to use the outhouse before dark and then the pee pot was put in the bedroom at night for us girls. Mama and Pa slept in the living room on a double bed. Since it was a large living room their bed was against the wall separating the living room from the kitchen. They had their dresser and a night table. Around the rest of the room sat two cowhide rocking chairs, a settee (sofa) and cowhide straight back chairs for us youngins. In the winter time we would sit around the fire (the only heat we had) and shell pecans for Holiday cooking and dry peanuts for Spring planting. Sometimes the fire would pop so loudly it sounded like a gun going off. One time when my oldest sister was sweeping the floor she swept the dirt into the fire and all of a sudden that noise went off and she grabbed her neck saying ouch. A bullet from the 22 shot gun had managed to get swept into the fire and it grazed her neck by her carotid artery. That frightened everyone. We would bathe in pans of water and put on our flannel nightgowns and stand in front of the fire to get warm before going to bed. When the back side was good and warm we'd turn around to warm the front which had done got cold again. It looked like we were on a rotisserie the way we were turning. I hated getting into that ole cold bed at night during the winter and I didn't like the other girls arguing over who got to sleep with me because I was their heater because I generated heat and they would all pile on one bed and tell me to get in the middle to keep them warm. Being hot natured it always made me feel like I was smothering in a can of sardines.

We grew our own food and would sometimes get up very early and go to the field and plant, hoe, and pick til it was time to wash up and get ready for school. We had rocking chairs lined up on the front porch and when we picked vegetables from the garden ( 3-5 acres of each), we would sit and shell butter beans, speckled butter beans, peas (several varieties) and string beans green and yellow on the front porch. We would each have a big pan for shelling the vegetables in and sit and rock in unison at times. We didn't have a vehicle ourselves, we rode in the mule and wagon til we got a tractor and trailer, then we rode in that. It was a treat to hear a vehicle coming down our dirt road and we would try to guess who it was as very few people rode down our dirt road. Well one day we were all sitting on the front porch shelling peas and we heard what we thought was the neighbors youngin on his motorcycle. Now our closest neighbor lived a half of a mile away from us across the paved road at the end of our dirt road. The son would rip down our road on his motorcycle and rev it up as he passed our house. We heard what we thought was the neighbor kid while we were shelling the peas and it seemed to get closer and closer and we were all guessing when we would be able to see him. The noise got loud to where we were sure we should have seen him coming by the house and no one went by. The motorcycle sound kept going and going and my next to the oldest sister was laughing and we all asked her what was so funny and she told us that motorcycle we heard was her whistling dixie tail talk. We laughed til we had tears streaming down our faces over that. For some reason it just gave us the giggles that day. Pa got upset with us and said "Don't y'all know that is the height of ill manners to do that in the presence of someone else? You save that for the outhouse." Now our outhouse was a two seater opened back outhouse and we thought we were right uptown over that as most country folks only had a one seater outhouse sitting over a deep hole. Every Saturday we would clean because cleanliness is next to Godliness and that meant we raked the yard and hoed up any grass that crept in through the fence. I later learned that was why we had to sweep the house so much due to all that sand being tracked inside. We would get the ole wash pot fire started and use the scrub board and then put them in the wash pot to boil the dirt out of the whites. After the clothes were all hung out on the clothes line, we swept the house then scrubbed the floor and then mopped it to rinse it. Then it was outside for the other Saturday chores. Some would rake the pine straw out of the yard and some got outhouse duty. We had to rake everything out and then Pa would come with the kerosene can and light a fire on it. The used corncobs would sometimes smolder and we couldn't leave it til it was all out. Of course no one wanted to do the outhouse chore. And when we upgraded to the Sears and Roebuck catalog we thought we were rich folks. We tore off a page and wrinkled and scrubbed the page together to soften it up and it felt so much better than using those corncobs. I didn't know what toilet paper was til I went to school. Anyway when the floors and clothes were dry we would take them in and iron everything with a big ole heavy iron. Most of the ironing wasn't too bad but the boys dungarees were so hard to iron and stiff they were stiff. We had a bottle with a metal stopper that had holes in it for sprinkling the clothes before ironing. I often wondered why we didn't take the clothes off the line when they were still damp and iron them. Well that was the way to iron back then and that is what we did. No wonder it took all day to finish the Saturday chores. Then we would wash up cook, and eat supper, then clean the kitchen. We heated water in big pans for washing and rinsing the dishes and then we dried them and put them away on the shelf. Now this is where I would dread being in the kitchen. My oldest brother would put a hat or bonnet on a mop and walk by the window acting like a ghost and scare the daylights out of me and send me running from the kitchen to the living room. Of course I was told to get back in there and finish. Well I would and we only had electric wire hanging down with a light bulb over the two tables. The one where we prepared dinner and washed dishes and the eating table. To conserve electricity we would only use one at a time. So when I was finished with the dishes on my turn I would go to the light over the eating table and putt the chain and then go back to the other table to pull the chain to turn that one off. well when I reached for the light to turn it off my pesticating brother would reach up and pull the other light chain which left me in total darkness and he would run and hide behind the door and shut it which left me a hollering and carrying on to let me out which was entertainment for the rest of the family. I thought to myself one day "I'm gonna fix his little red wagon and get him by making it to the door before he closes it. He almost got it closed but I was fast and pushed on that door with all my might and it slammed open with him hitting the wall and the door hitting him. For his trouble he almost got a broke nose. That was the last time he did that little trick on me. There is so much more to come but for now I leave you with Just This...Alice

1 comment:

  1. Wanted to come over and say thank you for the rose suggestion! I ordered two for the front garden walkway - i look forward to recieving it in march & getting it planted!!! xoxo