Poor Hungry Kool-Aid Kids


Mary was the child-bride (victim) of an old-goat in his seventies.  God only knows what kind of situation he’d rescued her from, since she clearly adored him.  When I first met them on a ramble with Daddy when I was about ten years old, they lived with their two babies on a creek bank an old school bus that had been converted into a trailer for hunters.  Two full bunks ran across one end.  Twin army cots were stacked along both sides.  A stove, powered by propane sat near the front door.  The family’s few belongings were stored in boxes under the beds.  Though I was only a kid, I could see that Mary was just a teenager.  Mother later told me she was only eighteen.  She was hugely pregnant.  I was enchanted with their trailer, thinking how nice it would be if our family lived such an adventure.

Not long afterward, the neighborhood learned of the family’s dilemma, helping them into a small rental house not far from us.  My youngest sister Marilyn was an infant at the time with rampant milk allergies.  In consultation with her doctors, Mother had tried many formulas.  Finally, in desperation, she and the doctor settled on a frequent feeding regimen, supplemented by feeding her warm Jell-O in her bottle, so she would still have the experience of sucking.  Finally, she thrived.  Young Mary, struggling with two babies under two and newborn twins and a husband averse to working, was struggling find milk for her babies.  All four of her children cried all the time.  The neighbors brought food in, but the newborns just looked pitiful.  She was visiting one morning and told Mother she had put her babies on Kool-Aid, like Mother had, thinking it would help, but it looked like the babies were starving.  Mother was shocked and explained that she was giving her baby Jell-O, not Kool-Aid, and supplementing with frequent feedings.

The church provided many cases of canned milk, as well as other food.  All the children did much better.  Social Services was notified. Mary got some help, though she did have four more children over the years before we lost touch with them.

We did eventually end up with that classy camper, but that’s a story for another day.

23 thoughts on “Poor Hungry Kool-Aid Kids

      • Yes, I almost know her pre-marriage life was a nightmare. In some areas, not too long ago, girls were married off to much older men for security especially if there was lots of younger children. I doubt she got much a say in whether to get married or not.


        • I think it still happens. I knew one woman whose father “gave” her to her husband when she was thirteen. She had 21 children. She said he beat her every day. She said she was so glad when he was disabled by a stroke. She beat him as much as she wanted to, then.


  1. That’s awful. Quite a story though and to me personally? A reason birth control was invented. It’s not having a lot of children, if you can take care of them, but clearly they couldn’t; and that old guy sounds like a pedophile. He clearly liked his control whatever he was. I’m always saddened to read of a life wasted (although I’m sure to Mary, it wasn’t.) We all walk different paths and who is to say which is better?


    • I think poor Mary probably came from a mess like that and saw him as an escape. He was a pedophile. Hard life for Mary and kids. Kids all looked undernourished. Both Mary and husband smoked those Prince Albert roll your own cigarettes


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