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Down on the farm

Down on the farm
Out of the woods.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

"Over-halls"

When I was little only the poorest of the poor wore what we called "over-halls"...the straps let them up and down for the next kid. They were always frayed, patched and faded, but never dirty.
Rarely did the child have shoes, never socks and at a guess, no underwear. The kids usually smelled bad, not from dirt, but malnutrition and bad teeth.
A boy sitting next to me in first grade could not be allowed to have crayons because he ate them as fast as he could get his hands on them. His father was a lead miner, out of work after the mine closed and they were starving.
Their home was a tar paper shack, literally. There was a light bulb hanging from the ceiling over an old wobbly dining room chair. In one corner was an old bed with broken metal springs and a threadbare quilt folded neatly at the bottom and one pillow at the head. A huddle of fabric scraps in another corner served as a bed for the baby and several children. In the place of honor, in the center of one wall was an ancient console radio. The light bulb over the chair had to be removed to plug in the radio. A pot bellied stove with 3 intact legs and a couple of bricks served for heat and cooking.
I know all this because my father took me along on 'pastoral calls' like this so he could say that "Judy wanted to stop in to say hello to her school friend." I had several of these friends, some I never knew at school as they were older or younger.
Most families were too proud and refused any help at all. But we got free milk for a lot of them because all the kids got it. Some wouldn't even accept it then. They didn't want to be beholden.
What a change to the welfare way of life. Today those kids would be fed, but would they ever understand the pride of a day's work? I can't judge about better or worse.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The ladies in the outhouse.

Judy,

One thing I remember is your mother, Girlie, and my mother all sneaking out to the outhouse at Grandmas to smoke!! My daughter was astounded when I told her that.That these grown up women had to sneak around to smoke and in the outhouse! I couldn't remember if your mother smoked, though. I knew Girlie and my Mom did.

Of course, they didn't all sneak out at the same time!
Love the stories.

Priscilla

To:
"priscilla lewedag"
Yes, my mom smoked at that time, too. Grandma C could be pretty fierce! Remember the story about her taking a couple of Aunt Maude's boys by the ears and making them pour their "hooch" down the drain? She told them she didn't allow that rotgut in her home!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Grandma and the Jameses

We were at Grandma & Grandpa Campbell's little house on St. Claire Road. All the uncles, even my dad, had gotten together to build the house above the Bourbouse River outside Union. It was a ramshackle place by today's standards, but Grandma was happier that we had ever seen her. A home of her very own, after all those years.
All the big people had wandered off, the men had gone fishing, The women were in the kitchen, or sitting on the porch drinking lemonade or iced tea. Grandma was glorying in the quiet, alone for a while in her own living room.
Several of the cousins were playing in the terraced front yard between the gardens. Flag stone walk ways and steps led up to the highway. At the corner of the house beside the summer kitchen was a whet stone run by pedal power. Grandma's cats and kits mewled under the porch, untouchable and unreachable.
A game of cowboys and Indians was in progress and as I slurped up a quick drink I announced to Grandma that I was going to join the game and be Jesse James.
Grandma went still as a pouncing cat. Her voice RANG in the quiet house.
Those Jameses! They're TRASH! NOTHING BUT OLD WHITE TRASH!
I'd never seen my grandma angry before and this sounded real personal. I think my mouth dropped open. I slipped out of the house and I am not sure she noticed right away.
We never talked about it again. But I never mentioned Jesse James in her presence, either. Probably should have. But she wouldn't have told me. You don't tell the kids.