Killer Tomatoes (Tales from the Toilet)

imageA well-worn path led down the hill to the toilet located far enough to cut the odor and avoid contamination of our well.  Mama was vigilant about sanitation and shoveled lime into the pit to aid decomposition and screened the open back to foil her chickens who considered the flies and maggots a tempting buffet.  Chickens are not known for their Continue reading

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Fleas Go Home for Christmas, Willie Tharpe

Daddy wasn’t just a magnet for strange characters.  He beat the bushes to flush them out.  If that hadn’t worked, I believe he’d have up tacked up posters.  Mother had no way of anticipating who he might drag in for supper, overnight, or until further notice.  I never did understand why she didn’t murder Daddy.  He must have slept sometime! Continue reading

Rocky Christmas

The most thrilling Christmas gift I ever got was a red wooden rocking horse, named Rocky.  I was so excited  Christmas Eve I woke up half a dozen times asking if it was time to get up yet.  Finally, about four o’clock, Mother and Daddy gave up the battle.  We had to stay in our rooms for eons till Mother got coffee made.  When she and Daddy were finally settled in the living room, they let us come in to see what Santa had brought.  The tree, lights shimmering beneath the angel hair was breathtaking.  Off to one side sat my red rocking horse!  It was really bouncing horse on springs.  I must have bounced ten-thousand miles on Rocky, the frame jumping off the floor till Mother couldn’t stand the racket and slowed me down.

Santa also brought me some other gifts.  I was delighted to see the biggest box of all was for me unfortunately containing a tea set.  I was initially disgusted, but later found the plates and cups very useful in my construction projects, excellent for scooping mud and sand for road building.  The tea pot came in handy for irrigation.  Despite my insistence that I didn’t want one, Santa just couldn’t get it through his head that I really, really hated baby dolls.  This year’s model was a hard plastic life-size doll with molded hair.  I hated it on sight.  The icing on the cake was opening my grandma’s gift and finding her twin.  There’s nothing better than two of something you hate!  I was worldly enough by this time not to announce to the world that I hated dolls as I opened them, so I am here to tell the tale

Billy got the obligatory cap pistols, holster, and hat.  I tried to work up a trade for my twin babies, pointing out we could hang them, then have fine funerals.  I almost had him convinced till Daddy heard me trying to get his boy to swap guns for baby dolls and …………..well, it didn’t happen.  Phyllis got a fine pogo stick, which worked just great till she wore out the stopper on the end.  After that, she hopped around punching holes in the yard till she hit a soft spot and buried up.  That could be fun, too.

It was a fine Christmas.  Thanks Santa, Mother, and Daddy.  Oh yes, except for the tea set and baby doll.  I told you I didn’t want one!

Writing on the Toilet Walls (from Kathleen’s Memoirs of the Depression)

When I started first grade at Cuthand School, I took my reader home every night, and with Annie’s help, read several lessons ahead. I’d always longed to read, but by now had another incentive, although a secret one. The inside toilet walls at the school were covered with hundreds of words and sentences, all tantalizing out of my illiterate reach. Continue reading

God, Don’t Let Bessie Die! (1930s Memoir)

Daddy came in to supper, worried to death.  Bessie, our cow had had a calf and had “got down.”  This was a catastrophe. “Getting down” meant certain death for the cow and a disaster for us. “Oh, Lord!  What in the world will we do?  We’ve got to have milk for the kids.  And we’ll lose the calf, too.”  Mama was calm, not panicking, so, I knew this was Continue reading

Poor, Sweet Emma Lou (from my mother’s memoirs of the 1930’s)

When my mother Lizzie left Virginia as a young bride around 1913, she was most lonesome for her baby sister, Emma Lou, a precious blue-eyed blonde of eight. Emma Lou had been born when Grandma Sarah Perkins was past forty. Grandma must have been dismayed by a burst of fertility, eventually giving birth to five more children, the last Continue reading

Hand Me Down Glamour

“Hand-me-downs” were a vital part of every kid’s wardrobe during the depression. Though Annie and John were several years older, I wore their hand-me-downs, which had probably passed through other children before they got back to me. Kids only had to look at an older sibling to see what was in their wardrobe future. With any good luck, a kid got an Continue reading

Black as Hell and Smells Just Like Poke Salad

The weather had been unseasonably hot and dry the fall of 1933, the drought extending all the way into November. All eyes scanned the skies periodically, hoping for the rain that would break the drought and bring cooler temperatures. The clouds rolled in, threatening, but produced no rain. The old timers who predicted rain by their rheumatism, declared when Continue reading

Killer Tomatoes

Mama kept me close her side when we were home alone. If she did let me go in the yard on my own, I had to be close enough to come running in an instant when she called. The only exception was a trip to the toilet.  Since it wasn’t polite to answer from the toilet, I kept quiet knowing, she’d be watching for me to come out before mounting a search.  She Continue reading