You Poor Baby (Part 2)

vintage baby

part 1      https://nutsrok.wordpress.com/2015/07/11/you-poor-baby/

Furious at finding her washing machine packed to the rim with freshly laundered diapers mixed with freshly- laundered gobs of poop, Mother roused Carol from where she snored on the sofa, oblivious to her miserable, bawling baby. “Carol, come here. Let me show you how to use this washer! You can’t just throw filthy diapers in it without rinsing this stuff out.” Mother got a tub, made Carol scoop the poopy diapers out and clean the washer, then sent Carol out to rinse the dirty diapers under the faucet before bringing them back to the washer. “Be sure you dump that dirty water from the tub behind the chicken house, not in the back yard. You may as well get the rest of this mess soaking.” She pointed to the pile of poopy diapers that had not yet had a ride in her abused washer. Carol looked furiously at Phyllis and me as she stormed off to do this demeaning task, clearly much better delegated to underlings like us.

We did have to tend her poor, miserable baby while she slaved over the diaper rinsing, but that was better than rinsing out poopy diapers ranging from rock-hard lumps to runny diarrhea, depending on the vintage. The stench was horrendous, as evidenced by Carol’s retching. I have no doubt Carol was sick when she came back in. She took to her bed(our sofa) to recover. Clearly accustomed to help with her baby, she was reluctant to leave her repose to wash bottles and prepare formula, preferring to call out for one of of kids to “bring me a bottle!” when he cried. The first time, Mother let the hungry little guy have a bottle, despite the fact it was an expensive, hypoallergenic formula prescribed for her own tiny baby. She quickly pointed the case of milk she’d bought for Carol’s baby, the kind Carol requested. “Oh this will be fine,” Carol said. “He likes it!”

“Carol, you need to fix your own bottles! I bought you what you asked for. This stuff is forty cents a can!” Mother explained.

Carol was clearly offended. She dawdled a bit after he finished his bottle, put him down, and shut herself in the bathroom for a good crying session. Eventually, she came out and made a collect call to her mother, insisting she come, NOW! Mama couldn’t come, NOW! More crying on the phone. We were stuck together till the weekend. Carol had no problems leaving his bottles lying about to sour after baby was satisfied. Should he cry out when a sour bottle sat handy, she had no qualms about trying to get him to take it.

The next three days lasted an eternity. At my parent’s insistence, Carol did end up giving her baby good care while they waited for Mama, but she turned him over to Mama as soon as she arrived. His bottom had healed, he’d plumped up, and even played a bit with good care. Poor little guy didn’t get much of a pass. He was soon back home to be joined by a brother and sister in rapid succession.

Alas, Carol’s marriage fell apart, but before long she found another man and launched into her addiction to having babies she had no interest or ability to care for, eventually delivering eleven sad children. At a family reunion once, I heard someone ask how long she was going to keep having babies. She replied, “As long as God wants me to.” It was heartbreaking to see her children suffer from her neglect and ignorance.

Hear No Evil

Warning:  Triggers for victims child evilsexual abuse.

Betsy was overweight,unkempt, and shunned by the other kids. “Everybody” knew she “did” it with Jimmy in his barn whenever he wanted to.  She didn’t deny it, even though he called her a pig.  When the home-economics teacher stepped out of class one day, Betsy told us her step-daddy got in bed with her whenever her parents had a fight.  We were all repulsed, thinking she was “talking dirty.”  He was known to be an alcoholic, frequently drunk in public. She told us he beat the whole family.  She frequently bore bruises.   None of us reported it to anybody.  I was disgusted, avoiding her like the plague.  Wild horses couldn’t have dragged that story out of me. Becky’s step-father despised her for her illegitimacy.  The couple had  two younger girls and a boy together. ,Who knows if they suffered the same abuse as Becky didcrying child 2

Life went on.  I heard Betsy married and had children. Years later, she did prison time for molesting boys in her neighborhood.  Who knows how many children were hurt?  By the time she came out of prison, she was in very poor health, living out her life with her mother and a different step-father.  What a shame no one was there for this sad child early on, including me.

Hard Times With Mettie Knight Swain

family3

Five of Maw Maw’s seven children.  My father, Bill Swain is the little boy with wet pants holding the cap.  One more child was born after this picture was made.  It is likely someone just happened by with a camera and snapped this shot. Continue reading

Swapping Lunches (from Kathleen’s Memoirs of The Great Depression)

velda n melbaI was fascinated with the twins, Velda and Melba Peterson, from a family of eleven kids on a poor farm way down in the low country. Their daddy “drank.” They often came to school beaten and bruised. They carried their lunch in a silver-colored syrup bucket and ate it under a big oak on the Continue reading