Downtown, Indianapolis, Indiana, 1949. A grandma and her granddaughter are walking on the sidewalks among the many other people. These girls are going shopping at L. S. Ayres. As they walk, they hold hands. Taking their time to notice the shop window displays, as the crowd rushes by, on their way to work.
Grandma is in a predicament
They had come by bus since they lived in the city of Indianapolis. Grandma has her five year old granddaughter by the hand when she has to make a quick decision. The elastic waistband in grandma’s underwear broke. She did not have elastic in the legs, so those underwear were coming down. And, fast!
What to do?
What to do and how fast could she do it? This question ran through her mind in a split second. Grandma stepped herself right out of her underwear and kept walking!!
I was the skinny little girl stepping out of the car looking up at the two-story farmhouse. We had arrived at Aunt Sandy and Uncle Heck’s farm.
I wondered what would happen during this visit that would stay in my mind for a long time. So, I was already planning to sit in the closet at home, among the coats, boots, and shoes and remember each word, each look, each spanking with the razor strap, from these few days.
they were probably up early taking care of the animals
Aunt Sandy and Uncle Heck had a farm in Indiana back in the late 1940’s. My parents and I lived in Indianapolis. We would pack one suitcase between us, and drive for a little over an hour, to Bainbridge, to visit my mom’s youngest sister. Most times, when we arrived, the house was unkept, no one was around, and always unlocked.
mom is meaner than a pirate
Listening to every word my mom said to daddy, I would watch as she dissected each room. The bed was unmade. The sitting room was not swept, the couch littered with newspaper. Dishes in the sink. Who leaves the house this early and does not clean? Who leaves this house knowing company is coming?
donna jean’s superpower would be invisibility
Mom would begin cleaning, as daddy went out to the barn. But, I tried to be quiet, and invisible, as her personality surfaced. Obscenities seeping through her lips, as her anger mounted, mixed in with the words, lazy and filthy. She was crude enough to make sailors blush. For that matter, she was mean enough to scare them away.
do you know what a razor strap looks like?
The farm had an outhouse, but no bathroom inside. I refused to use the outhouse, so daddy would spank me with the razor strap. When we would first arrive, I would tell him he could beat me if he wanted. I was not going anywhere near that outhouse.
aunt sandy is a jerk
Aunt Sandy did not care because she would not let me poop on her property. Being adopted, she said I was not a blood relative and I would have to poop on paper. The paper would be destroyed. I couldn’t even go to the bathroom in the field where the cows shit.
They did not mow their front yard, which seemed strange to me. Daddy always kept our yard nicely mowed at home. I remember hearing the swish, swish of the reel mower at home, wishing it could lull me in to a nice daydream.
gabby and my fond memory
Gabby was their dog. She loved me, even though I only saw her once a year. She would follow me through the tall grass, always by my side. One memory was me pulling grass and putting it in my pants. I pretended to be a hula dancer, except I had the grass held by my waistband, sticking up towards my face.
They raised bee’s. I can remember chewing on the honeycomb. The sweetest, most natural flavor. I wish to be a little girl for just a moment to chew on the honeycomb. Stand there chewing,and watch the cows swing their tails patiently at the flies. Their bodies were so big and moved slowly, their brown eyes watching me lazily.
keeping milk cold till it sold
All three mornings, because we only stayed three days a year, I would be standing at the window upstairs, wide awake. I would be waiting for Uncle Heck to walk out of the house around 4 a.m. He would go to milk the cows in the barn. When I was allowed to go out, Uncle Heck showed me where he put the milk cans. He placed them in a cement trough with an actual spring running through it till the milk truck came and bought the milk.
lye soap and cold pump water
She made her own soap. Lye soap. It was so strong, my skin should have come off. One night of my stay, I was bathing. No bubbles. No sitting in warm water, relaxing. I stood in a galvanized tub as pump water was poured over me, quickly rinsing the lye soap away. Lye, grainy, soap. Running hand over it,felt like it had sand in it.
These are true stories I gather from family. Do you have memories of how you were raised? Places you went for a few days or weeks out of a month? Please share your memories or those memories from a family member!
Actually,a Dillingham Bluebird cedar chest. Vintage, the 1940’s, I am assuming. My husband purchased this beauty at an auction right here in beautiful Tennessee. Premier Auction is quite impressive. If you have not gone to an auction before, choose one locally,and go as early as possible so you can browse.
And when I say browse, I mean pick out what you want!!! And then act like you are not interested. Heehee! I walk all around like I don’t care, then I walk over to my handsome husband and we are so in-tune that he knows exactly what I want. And he gets this look of determination, this “Get lost men. My wife wants this and I am getting it for her”.
In my blog yesterday, about my special hair ribbon pillow, I said that I would talk about the cedar chest, or hope chest that I keep very special items in. I have four children and have always kept their baby blankets and a couple of dresses for them from childhood. Well,not for our Marine! He has an handsome white infant one piece that was his dad’s and then his blankets are still in there. Since he will always be on the go and stationed all over the world, I am happy to have the perfect place for his special blankets and outfit that he can pass on when he has his own little one’s.
The picture here of my hope chest is empty just so that you can see how much room it has. When the lid is closed, I can sit on it comfortably and read. The design is Waterfall. In the future, we would like to pad the top with a nice pillow the length and width of the chest, and place it under a window.
Hope chest was young ladies hoping to fill the chest with newlywed linen…quilts,clothes,books,household items……
When I would hear this from my dad, I would slip away in to a comforting place filled with sunshine and the scent of lilacs bushes. Bright sunshine, bluest of blue skies, the creak and slam of the ole’ screen door, and the feel of grass under my feet.
Then as his story pulls me in……
I’m deep in the woods, looking at my dad as a young boy. Snow is so brilliantly white as the sun hits it and the shine nearly blinds me. I am right beside him as he races home with rabbits freshly shot and stuffed in his coat. Our breath is nearly freezing in the air before us, and our cheeks are a deep crimson red. We can barely feel our toes. We come through the trees and see the farm house, the barn, and the chicken house.
Back when I was young, I can recall many Thanksgiving days where the ground was already covered deep in snow…….
When we rush through the door, my Grandma Brown has the table gloriously filled to overflowing with meat from the farm, homemade dishes prepared with ingredients from their land, saved just for this day! The biggest turkey, on the biggest platter, in the middle of the biggest table, I have ever seen in my life.
I can still picture Sis and Bud,my nephew Jimmy, Mom and Pop Duncan, Aunt Dunc, and Mom and Dad already sitting at the table laughing and talking all at once…….
We wash our hands and realize they are so cold, the water even though icy, feels burning hot. My dad slides in to his chair. I realize I’m still standing, frozen to my spot. I haven’t met some of these relatives. They left this earth before I was born. As this scene begins to fade, so does his young voice, the laughter, and the beautiful fragrant smells. I smile and give thanks for those words, I remember as a kid……and a memory of a 1940’s Indiana Farm Family Thanksgiving.