No Chores for Me- Water Pails and Yard Chickens
My grandparents had 2 horses. Buckshot was the male and Candy Kisses was the female. I have no idea what they did to get the horses, because they sure were not rich.
Every day, one of the girls would haul water and oats down to the barn, and the boys would let the horses out and muck the stalls. They would pet and fawn over the horses while we little ones mainly watched from a milk crate.
One day, my Aunt Linda- who was notoriously lazy- was hauling the oats and water. She turned to me and said that I had to help, or else.
I dug my heels in right then. Grandpa said that "littles" didn't do chores outside, unless he or Grandma said to, because there was too much that could happen. Just "littles" chores. We were not allowed to even touch those horses without a grown-up around, let alone get close to the feed.
"No, Ma'am, Aunt Linda. I am not going to do it."
She turned to me and her face grew red. "Oh, you will. I am your elder. I am 16 years old and you will mind me or I will switch you real good." She yelled, motioning for me to pick up the water pail.
"No!" I yelled back, running to the rabbit hutches where grandpa was cleaning them out.
She ran after me, but fear gives your feet speed. I reached grandpa, crying and huffing and puffing. He knew something was up.
Aunt Linda was soon there, too. He asked what happened and she forced out a tale that was a whopper of a lie. He looked at me. "What happened, Sis?" I told him exactly what happened.
"Littles don't do chores. She is not even 5 yet. She can't haul them buckets. You'll pull her spine out of her skin with the strain."
Linda protested, and Grandpa got red faced himself. "You don't ride a horse till they are grown, you don't breed a cow till they are grown, and you don't yoke a baby to an adult's chores. Feed and water the horses, Linda!" He then called Uncle Billy to make sure that the horses were fed, watered and mucked out. I got to stay behind and scoop ladles of water for the rabbit bottles.
Grandpa looked at my little tear stained face. "We all pull our own weight here. Someday, you will be doing big girl chores, too. Right now, you just need to be my little girl. You don't go any further from the house than the yard chickens, unless me or Grandma or Mama or Daddy says it is okay."
"Can't I watch them water the horses, Grandpa?" I asked, hoping he would say yes.
"No. Them girls won't watch to make sure you are out of the way, and the boys don't care if you get kicked in the head. Only where the yard chickens go. No farther."
I nodded. It was through that instruction that I learned how to make chickens follow you all the way to the tire swing.....but didn't get in trouble because the yard birds were there with me!
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Fast For Fathers!
Father's Day is here, and I have 5 fast questions so that you can ask the fathers in your life!
1. How did you find out that you were going to be a father?
2. What has been the best part of being a father?
3. What is something you never expected about being a dad?
4. What is a bond or shared interest that you have with your children?
5. What would the perfect Father's Day be for you?
That's All folks!
Mamaw's Upright Piano
Mamaw had an upright piano in her small house. When you walked in the front door, the piano was to the right of the front door, right up against the wall. There were many books in the seat. Everything was church songs. Nothing else. When I was 6, I got to spend the summer with her. One day, doing dishes, I was under her feet a little too much. "Why don't you go and play on the piano?" She asked, pulling me to the upright.
"I don't know how, Mamaw." I replied.
"Just plink along and figure out a song." She said, lifting the cover to the keys.
I banged along the keys, looking for where a song was hidden. Nothing wanted to be found that day.
Everyday after that, Mamaw would wash our dinner dishes after her stories played. I would cause all of the great pianists of the world to roll in their graves as I massacred the keys on the keyboard.
For weeks this went on. As soon as the dishes were washed, she would sit next to me and play the songs that she was going to play on the organ at her church. Sometimes, she would move my fingers and show how to play a few notes. It was amazing to watch her play with no book in front of her, just the memories of the song strongly in her head.
"Let's play Amazing Grace, baby." She said one day. I got so excited. I knew this song from my church with Mama and Daddy.
Mamaw played the notes. Then she began singing. She sang a line. I sang a line. With mistakes I never knew were mistakes. (Read below)
Mamaw: Amazing Grace! how sweet the sound
Me: That saved a switch for me
Mamaw: I once was lost, but now am found
Me: Was blind but now I be
Mamaw: Through many dangers, toils, and snares
Me: I've already done
Mamaw: 'Tis grace that brought me safe thus far
Me: And grace will lead me home
Mamaw: When we've been there ten thousand years
Me: Right, shining as the sun
Mamaw: We've no less days to sing God's praise
Me: Than when we first got done
Mamaw: Amazing Grace! how sweet the sound
Me: That saved a switch for me
Mamaw: I once was lost, but now am found
Me: Was blind but now I see
Mamaw: Was blind but now I see
Mamaw kept her cool. She did not scold. We sang it one more time, and she was laughing, tears rolling down her cheeks.
"Where did you learn that, baby?" She asked.
"At Grandpa's church where Daddy goes to." I answered, afraid I had made God mad.
"Well, today you get a special treat. We are going to learn lyrics."
She stood up, put me on the floor as well and lifted the lid of the bench seat at the piano. Thumbing through the books, she found Amazing Grace. Sitting us both back down, she settled the book onto the stand and got back into playing, wiping her eyes and clearing her throat.
"Am I wrong, Mamaw?" I asked, still not knowing what happened.
"No, baby. Not wrong. You didn't know. Now, we can both learn. I might have forgot some of them words, too."
I bless her for teaching without taunting. I miss her terribly.
Happy Birthday from Trains and Trucks
I was so excited that I could hardly wait to get out of the bed that morning. My birthday was here! Could you believe that I had been waiting for it a whole year?!?!?!?!?!??!
Mamaw made me 3 boiled eggs and biscuits with butter and jelly. I ate as quick as I could. Billy Ray's cousin was going to take me with him in his fine 18 wheeler to the loading docks to watch them put in strawberries! After that, we were going to get cantaloupe for me and Mamaw! This was going to be the best year ever. I was 5 years old and ready to go!
Billy Ray pulled up in his big pickup truck. I was ready to run out the door, but Billy Ray walked in. "Mornin', Miz Ida, here to pick up a passenger." He said, looking at me and smiling, his missing tooth looked funny to me and I laughed.
She made him a plate for breakfast and Billy Ray talked between bites, barely stopping to breathe.
"Go to the bathroom and pee. Wash your hands and face and brush your teeth." Mamaw said to me, motioning for me to get my morning "deeds" done.
I scampered off, hearing them laughing and talking in the kitchen.
When I came back, Mamaw had cleared the table, she sat me down and braided my hair into two long braids that she formed into a headband that went over the top of my head, set in place by bobby pins.
She pulled off my sundress and fitted me with a pair of tiny overalls and a t-shirt. "You can't wear your sandals and dress today, sis. You are gonna be climbing all over stuff. Aunt Dotty sent over one of the boy's overalls and shirt for you to wear. Plus a pair of their boots they outgrew."
I looked down. These were like what the men wore. I had pockets galore! I had on boots! I was a worker bee!
Billy Ray scooped me up. "Alright, Ida. You've dolled her up enough. She's cuter than a box of puppies. See you after a while!"
"Mind your manners!" Mamaw called after me. I waved and before I knew it, I was in Billy Ray's big truck, bouncing along the road, singing with Brenda Lee, Patsy Cline and Jim Reeves.
We reached the truck yard, where Clive was waiting for us with his friends. "Sis! Sis! he called out, scooping me up into a hug. "Happy Birthday, Sis!" He sat me on his hip. Billy Ray left, telling him to run me back to Ida's when we were done.
We went into the office, where I was introduced to everyone. I had the best day ever. Clive took me out to his big truck. He showed me where to climb. Before I knew it, I was up in the truck, looking down on the world.
My heart soared. When the "roach coach" came for the truckers, Clive bought me a sandwich and we sat with all of the truckers.
Bo, who was with the trains would tell story after story. I crawled down from Clive's lap and sat on the dirt next to him, where everyone else was crowding him, listening to his every word. I was completely unnoticed. Bo would pause at the end of a tale and everyone would erupt with laughter.
I didn't understand his stories, but he seemed so likeable.
When he was done with one of his stories, I pulled on his cuff. "Excuse me" I said, as I had been taught to do with grown ups. "Excuse me. I didn't understand the story." I said, looking at him. Bo's face went red. "Well. Well. Um. You'd have to drive a truck or a train to get it."
"Can you tell the one about the 3 little bears? Or the one about the 3 little pigs? Or the one about the Princess and the Pea?"
He put out his big hand for me. "I am Bo. See the train over there? When the lunch whistle goes, I will take you on the train before it is ready and give you a tour."
I nodded and found Clive, who was amused that I had embarrassed Bo.
"You got Bo good, sis!" He said, chuckling as we finished off our lunch. He took me to the bathroom and cleaned me off, and when the whistle blew, I found Bo.
"Time for the grand tour." Bo said, telling Clive that he would bring me back in time for college.
Bo walked me around the train, pointing out parts and telling me what they did. Every 3 or 4 parts later, Bo would test me. If I got it right, he would clap his hands together and say "there goes a bright girl."
We climbed into the front of the train, I was lifted up and Bo showed me different things. As were were touring, a man came up to Bo. "All ready, tracks clear."
"We go in 5." Bo said, looking at his watch.
Bo walked me back to Clive and looked down at me.
"Happy Birthday, Sis! Be good!" Bo said and walked back to the train.
Clive walked us over so I could see the train leave.
As they pulled off, Bo played the 6 notes from Happy Birthday on the train horn! I was in awe. The train sang to me!
Clive drove me home with a basket of strawberries and other produce for my birthday. I was asleep in my own bed when I woke up. Mamaw asked me if I had a good time. "Even the train knew it was my birthday, Mamaw! It sang Happy Birthday to me!"
She cut the salad into big huge, coarse pieces. Bowls were stacked high with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions. As she filled a bowl, one of her daughters would come and empty the bowl into the food processor, turning the pieces into bite sizes. One by one the vegetables were assembled into salads. All this was done from Sunday night to Thursday night. In the morning, they would rise before dawn, load the food truck with everything that they had prepared and make their rounds.
On the evenings, her husband would cook all of the meats that would be made into sandwiches, tacos and more. As they made their rounds from construction site to construction site, Mary and Charlie would track each item by seeing what was left at the end of the day. They learned what sold and what did not sell. Each site had their favorites.
Mary longed for the days of her childhood, growing up in rural Louisiana with her family. She remembered playing barefoot in the mud in September, when summer was dying and fall was pretending to be there. Charlie had charmed her when he was working on the highway. Everyday, he would make sure to come into her family gas station when she was there, ordering a sandwich and getting a cold drink. He would sit at the only table, one that seated 2. All the while he was eating, Charlie would toss questions at her.
One day, Mary looked at him. None of the other workers were there with him. They sat in the shade of the tree, eating from their lunch pails. Drinking from their big Stanley Thermos. Laughing and playing with the dog that sat in one of the foreman's trucks all day long except for breaks.
"Why don't you sit with your friends and have lunch with them?" She asked, bringing him the sandwich he ordered.
"They have lunches made by their wives and girlfriends. I don't have one of those."
Mary laughed. Her grey eyes danced in the sunlight.
"You should get one. My dad is buying this store from your lunches."
They both laughed.
On Friday, he showed up after work. A first. He asked to speak to her father. Her father, a man named Dalton came from behind the counter, wiping his huge hands on his apron.
"Need a couple of sandwiches for the weekend? Come by each day and we will make them fresh so that you don't have a soggy one."
Mary swept the floor while they talked. Went and got the mop. Mopped the floor. She didn't notice what they were talking about, only noticed that they were having a good time, which was nice.
"Mary!" Her father called out, loudly.
"Yes, sir?" She answered as she came around the corner.
"This fella wants to take you out tonight or tomorrow, your choice. I told him that we are Catholic, so Saturday is out unless he wants to go with us to Saturday service first."
"You asking me out?" Mary asked, looking him right in the face.
"I am." Thought that I should ask your father, first. Respect to him, of course."
Mary smiled. No one had ever asked her out before. No one had ever asked her father for permission.
She looked at him. "Saturday we go to Anticipatory Mass. Wanna go?"
"I am Catholic, too." Charlie said, smiling at her.
Mary nodded. "Ok. Super. Will you meet us at church or come to our house?" She asked, looking at her father instead of Charlie.
"He will meet us at church and y'all will go to dinner afterwards. Be home by 9:30. You know we do a lot of prep work for Sunday on Saturday night."
Her mother braided her hair the night before and Mary slept on the braids so that she would have waves for her date. Her sister, Corrie helped by loaning her a plain white shirt to wear, Jim, her brother polished her shoes.
They went to a small diner after church where they split a plate of fried chicken and mashed potatoes. He walked her to the door, where her father invited him in. Charlie stayed and helped cut up food and prep for the needs of people who would come into their store to purchase food for Sunday dinners. For the truckers that would need their coffee to go. For the train conductor who, every Sunday would buy 3 packs of gum and a piece of fruit with the Sunday paper.
He listened. He laughed at her fathers' jokes. He was helpful.
7 weeks later, he proposed. They were married the next month. "Why wait?" Her father asked, squeezing Mary close to him. "I want grandchildren. Your mother has a whole closet of baby things she has been making for years." Everyone laughed.
The wedding was small. Friends and family. Her wedding cake was tiny mini cakes because of rationing from the war.
In less than a year, a baby came. Over the years, 5 girls would come into their lives. Mary would tell Charlie that she was sorry that she did not have a boy for him. Charlie would laugh. "I have all brothers. I have enough men in construction. Why do I want another boy when I have a beautiful family?"
Years later, life would change. When the construction project started to move farther and farther away from her family, Mary and her husband had a decision to make. They decided to convert a camper into a food truck. It would mean that they could be productive and spend time together.
At first, it was hard. As they learned the ropes, it became easier. They lived happily ever after.
This is the story that I was told by Mary's granddaughter about her grandparents who, in their 90s are happily retired and in good health. I begged her to get the story on tape and transcribe it, because the best teller of the story is the one that lived it. She did exactly that and I was sent a copy. I stripped the personal details for this article, but I am sure that you can see and feel the vividness in the story. You can look up the locations. You can add stories to each of the people, the parents, the children, the grandchildren and so forth.
This is adding depth and richness of color to your family tree. Find your family members and ask them the story of how they met! Happy Valentine's Day!