Icy Showers and Rotten Sausage

Cousin Kat was tight. We always took plenty of food when we went to visit, knowing how “conservative” she was. She thought three rolls, three scrambled eggs, a little jam and a dab of butter was plenty for any number of guests there might be for breakfast. “I just don’t think there’s any point in folks being hoggish,” was her favorite phrase as she set out a meal. She was a devout believer and had probably heard that story about Jesus feeding the multitudes on five loves and three fishes one too many times.

A few days before our last visit, someone had given Cousin Kat some fresh homemade sausage. She’d eaten a bit and saved some for us. That sounded fine till I opened her tiny 1940 model refrigerator to get some water. The rank smell of bad meat nearly knocked me down. “Ooh, Cousin Kat, I think something’s gone bad in here!”

“Oh, it’s not bad. It’s just that sausage Barney gave me. It’s real spicy!” She answered, totally unconcerned. “I’m gonna cook it up for supper.”

I made up my mind then and there to eat popcorn. I’ve never smelled a spice that mimicked the smell of rotting meat so closely. Mother and Phyllis both found other options. Count Kat cooked that sausage and ate up all by herself, since she was determined not to let it go to waste. It stunk the whole house up with its nauseating odor as it cooked. We all told her it smelled like it might have “gone to the bad.” She disagreed.

We planned a road trip for the four of us to go into Amish Country and packed a nice picnic …no sausage. Phyllis and Cousin Kat decided to take their showers the evening before so The four of us wouldn’t be competing in the morning. Cousin Kat told her how she could run a bit of water in the tub, sit on the edge, wash her face, ears, neck, then her body before washing the best parts and her feet. That way, she could get by with just a little of that expensive hot water. Well, I do believe I heard the shower running while Phyllis was in there, despite her lesson. Cousin Kat perked up her ears, too. When Phyllis came out, Cousin Kat said, “I hope you stopped up the tub and saved your water for me. Just one person don’t mess up bath water none.” Shamefaced, Phyllis had to admit she run it all down the drain. Cousin Kat gave her a look.

We went on to bed. I snore and talk in my sleep, so no one would bunk in with me. I am always early to bed, so I took the small bedroom. Cousin Kat gave Mother an inflatable mattress her son had left there to put on the living floor. Unfortunately, he had taken the pump home with him, so they sent a great deal of time trying to inflate it with a small hand-held hairdryer, the wrong tool for the job. Eventually, it approximated a mattress, though it flattened out the minute Mother reclined on it. They hadn’t bothered to pad the floor with quilts, so Mother was freezing the minute she lay down that frosty October evening. She got up, dragged her covers tote old-fashioned bi-fold sofa and tried to warmup. It was hard, lumpy, and had a couple of exposed springs but it was better than the icy floor.

Meanwhile, things weren’t going much better for Phyllis in the large, unheated upstairs bedroom. She’d chosen it because she liked to sleep in the cold. She’d dawdled and was the last to get to bed. I was quickly asleep though I kept up a listen for retching during the night, expecting Cousin Kat to come down with food poisoning, but the next thing I knew, Phyllis was climbing in the small creepy bed with me. “I thought you were too good to sleep with me.” I reminded her.

“I am, but when I got upstairs and switched on that dim overhead light, and everything looked fine, but when I turned back the quilts, rice scattered all over the place. I couldn’t imagine why rice would be on the bed, like that. I turned on that little flashlight Cousin Kat gave me and saw the bed and floor covered in mouse pellets. Mice were scattering everywhere. I can’t sleep up there with all those mice. She was mad! I was laughing so hard the springs were creeping. We sounded like honeymooners.

As I mentioned earlier, I don’t sleep well, I talk in my sleep. In truth, it’s much worse than that. I curse and hurl epithets, language I’d never use during waking hours. Once I drifted off, Phyllis and I rolled up in that ancient mattress like a couple of hotdogs in a bun. She swears I shoved her and screamed at her to “get the f…. Out of here. I don’t remember a thing about it!

In a huff, she got up in search of a place to sleep. Seeing that Mother had abandoned the perfectly good air mattress, she gave it a try. Of course, it put her right on the floor. Not to be defeated, she folded it in half and stretched out. That was a little better. Just as she drifted off, it gave up the ghost and blew out. Hearing all the racket, Mother and I got up to help. I invited her to share my bed, but she was mad and wouldn’t have any part of it. Mother offered to share the bi-fold sofa, but there was no way that would work. She ended up spendinding the rest of the night wrapped in a blanket trying to sleep in a not-so-easy chair.

We got up early to Have breakfast and get ready for our trip. At the kitchen table, We chatted over breakfast and sipped coffee. Mother and Phyllis lied about the extent of their miserable night. Phyllis had to come up with an excuse about abandoning the mousy attic. Cousin Kat polished off the last piece of the rancid sausage with her breakfast.

I got the first shower, keeping it short, since I remembered Cousin Kat’s lesson. It was pleasantly hot, but Mother said Cousin Kat ducked down to the basement to “get something” while I showered. Mother was next in line. When she got in, the water was nice and hot while she soaped up, but in just a minute, an icy blast hit her. Obviously, Cousin Kat’s basement errand was to cut off the water heater. The water came from a spring, so Mother’s hot shower was over. She had to wipe the soap off with a wet washcloth dipped in icy water.

She was furious when she shivered out of her shower, accusing me of using all the hot water.
“Mother, I wasn’t in there but a couple of minutes. I didn’t use that much!”

All the while, Cousin Kat sat humming contentedly, finally offering, “Oh well, that water heater’s old. I guess it just gave out.” Only the day before she’d told us that her son had just put in a new one, over her objections. “I can heat what water I need on the stove and save the heating bill.” She made no mention of turning off the water heater.

Finally, the cold, sleepy bunch was ready to start the trip.

To be continued

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Icy Showers and Rotten Sausage part 2

We toodled happily through the hills of Virginia in high spirits for a couple of hours till Cousin Kathleen asked for a rest stop. She wasn’t feeling so well. Uh oh! Still fearing the onset of food poisoning, I wheeled into a service station and she scurried for the Ladies Room. We filled the car, took our break, and waited. She came out looking a little green around the gills. “I ain’t feeling too peart. Something must be going around. I have a feeling I knew what was going around, that rotten sausage rolling around in her gut.

“Do you think we ought to go back home? I don’t want to take you off sick.”

“I’m fine. I just kinda’ had loose bowels.” That phrase always gave me visions of a person walking along with their arms full of slippery guts that periodically escaped and slipped to the ground. “I think I am fine now. My stomach’s rumblin’ a little. Think I’ll have a little bite to settle it.”

The sharp smell of rancid sausage assaulted us as she unwrapped a sausage-biscuit she dug out of her purse. “I’m sorry I ain’t got enough for y’all, but I didn’t want to waste this last piece.”

We couldn’t talk her out of eating it, and she cleaned it up, even licking its wax paper wrapper. Around noon, we stopped at a rest area for our picnic, spreading it out on a table under a shade tree. Several other groups were picnicking close by. Cousin Kat wasn’t hungry, so she headed for the restroom, telling us “Y’all go ahead and eat. I need a few minutes to sponge off a little.” That sounded ominous, but I didn’t offer to go along, assuming she wanted privacy.

By the time she came out, she looked bad. At a nearby picnic pavilion a couple with three little children was putting out their lunch. Dad smoothed the red and white checkered cloth and corralled the kiddies as Mom laid out the matching napkins and dishes. It was obvious tradition meant a lot to these parents since the kid’s clothes matched and Dad pulled out a nice camera and set up a tripod. It was a beautiful day for a picnic and family photos until Cousin Kat walked up, leaned against one of the poles of their pavilion and started projectile vomiting in their direction. She continued retching as they hurriedly packed their things, apparently in no mood for a new tradition.

When she regained her equilibrium, drank a Seven-Up, declaring she was fine now. “Sometimes I just get real sick like that, then it’s all over. Let’s get on down the road!”

She must have had a constitution of iron. We couldn’t talk her into going home, so we headed on. All was well for a couple of hours, then she got nauseated. I pulled over so she could retch to her heart’s content. Reaching in the car behind her, she grabbed Mother’s brand new red fleece jacket to wipe herself up with. Mother is still griping about her ruining that jacket. We whipped into a hotel and got a room, so she could rest and recover. We loaded her with fluids. I tried to get her to go to the Emergency Room but she would have no part of it. You can’t make an apparently competent adult go to the Emergency Room against their will. Believe me, I tried. Every time she opened her eyes, I had her drinking fluids.

After a few hours, she seemed better. At her suggestion, the rest of us walked over to the hotel restaurant for dinner. When we got back in an hour or so, the room smelled like a charnel house after a fresh episode of diarrhea and vomiting. Worst of all, her hemorrhoid had flared up and started bleeding. There was a bloody, poopy mess on the toilet, the walls, and a trail back to the bed where she lay sleeping like a baby. We made sure she was okay, gave her more to drink, and got to work on the mess, calling for extra towels to clean up. We also had to wash her clothes, since she’d already messed up the two outfits she’d brought. Then we headed to the pharmacy for remedies and air fresheners. Just in case you don’t know, they don’t give that stuff away. It was not a good night.

Somehow, we made it through the night. The next morning, she’d won her gastrointestinal battle. Now all she had to deal with was agonizing hemorrhoids. Her generous descriptions of her progress and suffering did not make her a better travel partner. We did some anti-climatic sightseeing in Amish Country, due to her ailments. Naturally, she didn’t feel like getting out, so we just made abbreviated stops. The only place she got out was at a quilt shop, where she was outraged at their prices. She’d thought she might be able pick up a nice quilt for twenty-five dollars.

We headed out early the next morning, determined to drop her off and head home to Louisiana. We had no intention of ever spending another night at her house. I think she was happy to see us leave, especially since we left her pantry well-stocked.

How Do You Keep Your Panties Up?

imageCousin Kat was proud of being “conservative.”  She pinched pennies beyond belief, though she could afford to buy whatever she needed.  Should she be given clothes or household items, she’d use only what she absolutely had to have, and sell the rest in a rummage sale.  Her wardrobe was a mish-mash of parts of various outfits.  She might wear a red and white striped sweater vest with a blue and pink polka-dot pullover and heavy gray corduroy skirt or green wool pants with knee socks and loafers or high-top brown boots.  On cool days, she always wore a black wool hat  or wool scarf.  Despite her strange get-ups, she cut an appealing figure  as she darted like a little bird along the trails of her little mountain village late into her eighth decade.  Related to everyone there, she was totally comfortable with her life, and well-thought of by all who knew her.  She worked up into her seventies when she retired to care for her ancient mother and her own ailing husband.  After their deaths, she sat with the elderly in their homes, many of whom were younger than she.imageCousin Kat was proud of her trim figure. We were getting ready to go to church with her on one visit, when she asked Mother,” Do you wear a girdle?”

“Most of the time I don’t.” Mother answered.

“Well, how do you keep your panties up?”  Cousin Kat inquired.

I don’t believe I’d ever heard that particular question before.  Maybe she was taking her frugality too far!

Hard Times and Tough People

Cousin Kathleen had a hard time coming up. She was the oldest of seven children ranging from three to fourteen when her father died in 1934. He farmed a few acres he’d gotten from his father in the Virginia hills. Aunt Winnie had no idea how they’d manage. She and the kids struggled to get the crops in that year with the help of the neighbors, knowing that was the last help she could count on in the hard times of The Great Depression. The thought of the work facing her was overwhelming. A friend gifted her with the crop from one of his bean patches, other neighbors contributed a ham, a few hens, some produce, and what little bit they could spare. Others offered to hire the kids when they needed help from time to time.
After the crops were in, the beans picked and canned, Aunt Winnie made inventory. She owned the farm with its tiny three-room house with beds in every room, including a couple in the attic. She had a good well, a tight barn, a smokehouse, a toilet and a chicken house. Her livestock included a sow and a few fattening shoats, a few chickens, a mule, a cow, a few goats, a dog and a couple of barn cats. Her farm equipment included a wagon, a plow, hand-tools, harness, and the various other things Ed had managed to acquire. She sold the mule to a neighbor with the promise that he’d loan it back to her to plow garden every spring, giving her a bit of cash. Darryl, the oldest boy was twelve and big as a man. Between the kids, and herself, they’d have to get the work done. Aunt Winnie took a days’ work when she was lucky enough to get it, though it was sporadic since there were no real jobs. The neighbors called her to help harvest, can, or help with the sick, but she had to be home at night to care for her own young children.
Cousins Kat and Darryl never lived at home or went to school after that, taking whatever work they could, their board part of their pay. Darryl was home only for heavy work plowing, planting, and getting crops in, though Kat only got to come home on weekends. He did farm work, cleared land, cut wood, helped butcher or did whatever he could get, moving from farm to farm as the job was finished, though he had to be home long enough to plow, plant, and get in the crops on his mother’s place.
Cousin Kat took whatever jobs helping out mothers with new babies, staying with the sick or elderly, helping with farm, housework, or sewing, anything she could get. The word got around the kids were hard-working and reliable, and cheap. Kat said she never got more than two dollars a week, when she was lucky. Sometimes she worked for produce and old clothes for herself and the family. Darryl often had to take his pay in produce to take home. There were many mouths to feed back at Mama’s place.
In this way, the family scraped by. Ed’s parents had moved to Texas where they moved in on Lizzie and Roscoe, my grandparents, in the meantime. Roscoe split his farm equipment, and gave them a wagon and mule to help them get started. Upon learning of her brother, Ed’s death, my grandmother, Lizzie, wrote her sister-in-law Winnie, to sell the farm and come to Texas, where they could be of some help to them. Nobody had much, but they could all manage together. Lizzie and Winnie had been life-long friends, even before Winnie married Ed. They had stayed in touch by letter at least weekly ever since Lizzie left Virginia. She looked forward to being with her again.
Winnie, who had no other family, was looking for a buyer for the farm and planning to move her family to Texas, when she got a nasty letter from her mother-in-law telling her she had no business moving to Texas, burdening herself and her husband with that “bunch of kids.” These were her own grandkids, by the way. Winnie had “made her bed and now she had to sleep in it.” This was really cold, considering this same woman had moved her own family in on her daughter and son-in-law. Maybe she was afraid more family would put an end to their generosity. My grandmother, Lizzie, never found out the reason till she and Winnie reunited on Lizzie’s first visit to Virginia fifty years later.
Insulted, Winnie and her family stayed in Virginia where they struggled by. Things got better when Darryl was able to join the Civilian Conversation Corp and send money home. The third daughter went out to work, bringing in a little money. When World War II started, Darryl enlisted, then the other boys in turn. They lived through some hard times. The younger children got to go to school.
Cousin Kat said it was a great sorrow that she never got to live at home after her father died, missing her family’s’ twilight suppers, never getting to finish school, and getting to sleep with her sisters under her mama’s quilts in the attic. The rest of her life, she never spent a penny she could save, fearing she’d need it soon.
Darryl made the Navy his career and was very proud to have served as boson the Hornet in World War II. All Aunt Winnie’s children did well, contributing till their mother got her “old age pension.” As her health failed, the children cared for her, hiring help to get them through times they couldn’t be there, quite an expense. Despite this, when she died, she left ten-thousand dollars to be divided among her children. She must have been so frugal!
cabin

Icy Showers and Rotten Sausage part 2

We toodled happily through the hills of Virginia in high spirits for a couple of hours till Cousin Kathleen asked for a rest stop. She wasn’t feeling so well. Uh oh! Still fearing the onset of food poisoning, I wheeled into a service station and she scurried for the Ladies Room. We filled the car, took our break, and waited. She came out looking a little green around the gills. “I ain’t feeling too peart. Something must be going around. I have a feeling I knew what was going around, that rotten sausage rolling around in her gut.

“Do you think we ought to go back home? I don’t want to take you off sick.”

“I’m fine. I just kinda’ had loose bowels.” That phrase always gave me visions of a person walking along with their arms full of slippery guts that periodically escaped and slipped to the ground. “I think I am fine now. My stomach’s rumblin’ a little. Think I’ll have a little bite to settle it.”

The sharp smell of rancid sausage assaulted us as she unwrapped a sausage-biscuit she dug out of her purse. “I’m sorry I ain’t got enough for y’all, but I didn’t want to waste this last piece.”

We couldn’t talk her out of eating it, and she cleaned it up, even licking its wax paper wrapper. Around noon, we stopped at a rest area for our picnic, spreading it out on a table under a shade tree. Several other groups were picnicking close by. Cousin Kat wasn’t hungry, so she headed for the restroom, telling us “Y’all go ahead and eat. I need a few minutes to sponge off a little.” That sounded ominous, but I didn’t offer to go along, assuming she wanted privacy.

By the time she came out, she looked bad. At a nearby picnic pavilion a couple with three little children was putting out their lunch. Dad smoothed the red and white checkered cloth and corralled the kiddies as Mom laid out the matching napkins and dishes. It was obvious tradition meant a lot to these parents since the kid’s clothes matched and Dad pulled out a nice camera and set up a tripod. It was a beautiful day for a picnic and family photos until Cousin Kat walked up, leaned against one of the poles of their pavilion and started projectile vomitng in their direction. She continued retching as they hurriedly packed their things, apparently in no mood for a new tradition.

When she regained her equilibrium, drank a Seven-Up, declaring she was fine now. “Sometimes I just get real sick like that, then it’s all over. Let’s get on down the road!”

She must have had a constitution of iron. We couldn’t talk her husband into going home, so we headed on. All was well for a couple of hours, then she got nauseated. I pulled over so she could retch to her heart’s content. Reaching in the car behind her, she grabbed Mother’s brand new red fleece jacket to wipe herself up with. Mother is still griping about her ruining that jacket. We whipped into a hotel and got a room, so she could rest and recover. We loaded her with fluids. I tried to get her to go to the Emergency Room but she would have no part of it. You can’t make an apparently competent adult go to the Emergency Room against their will. Believe me, I tried. Every time she opened her eyes, I had her drinking fluids.

After a few hours, she seemed better. At her suggestion, the rest of us walked over to the hotel restaurant for dinner. When we got back in an hour or so, the room smelled like a charnel house after a fresh episode of diarrhea and vomiting. Worst of all, her hemorrhoid had flared up and started bleeding. There was a bloody, poopy mess on the toilet, the walls, and a trail back to the bed where she lay sleeping like a baby. We made sure she was okay, gave her more to drink, and got to work on the mess, calling for extra towels to clean up. We also had to wash her clothes, since she’d already messed up the two outfits she’d brought. Then we headed to the pharmacy for remedies and air fresheners. Just in case you don’t know, they don’t give that stuff away. It was not a good night.

Somehow, we made it through the night. The next morning, she’d won her gastrointestinal battle. Now all she had to deal with was agonizing hemorrhoids. Her generous in descriptions of her progress and suffering did not make her a better travel partner. We did some anti-climatic sightseeing in Amish Country, due to her ailments. Naturally, she didn’t feel like getting out, so we just made abbreviated stops. The only place she got out was at a quilt shop, where she was outraged at their prices. She’d thought she might be able pick up a nice quilt for twenty-five dollars.

We headed out early the next morning, determined to drop her off and head home to Louisiana. We had no intention of ever spending another night at her house. I think she was happy to see us leave, especially since we left her pantry well-stocked.

Pinch a Penny till it Screams

Cousin Kat was tight as Dick’s hatband, or conservative as she called it.  We learned early on stop by a grocery store before going to spend a few days at her home in the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Our first visit, she knew we’d be arriving about dinner time.  She insisted we wait and eat supper with her.  We were surprised to find she’d cooked a about a cereal bowl of full of beans, sliced a tomato or two and an onion, and cooked four chicken wings for herself and our family of four.  “I don’t eat much,” she explained.  “I don’t want to make a pig of myself.”  My fifteen-year-old son could have eaten everything on the table.  Then she stirred eight teaspoons of sugar into her iced tea.  About a half-inch of sugar settled in the bottom of the glass after she stirred.  Apparently, the rules did not include sugar.

We went out for breakfast the next morning over Cousin Kat’s objections.  The kids were starving.  It was buffet style, so Cousin Kat ate like a lumberjack, loading about six biscuits on her plate.  She wrapped the leftover biscuits in her napkin, tucking them in her purse, topping it off with packets of jam, honey, sugar, and butter from the table to take home.  “They put these out here for us!”

Afterwards, we drove twenty-five miles into Independence, the nearest town, to the grocery store.  Aunt Kat went straight for the reduced for quick sale bin where she loaded up a bag of battered fruit, several dented cans, some aged produce, and a taped up bag of flour.  Then she cornered the unfortunate manager, a guy she’d taught in Sunday School thirty years ago.  He paled when he saw her, obviously battle-scarred.  “Marty, how much do you want for this rotten fruit and bent cans?  Something has leaked on this flour.” 

“How ‘bout a dollar for the whole lot, Miss Kat?” he asked tentatively.

“Now, Marty.  I don’t think you ought to charge me that much for this flour and this rotten fruit buzzin’ with fruit flies. I ain’t sure I’m gonna be able to use ‘em.  These peaches and bananas look pretty bad and ain’t nobody else gonna buy this flour.  You’re gonna have to mark ’em down some more,” she countered.

He looked desperate.  “How much are they worth to you?”

“How ‘bout a quarter?” Marty looked hopeful.

“Well, I’ll give you twenty cents, but I’m coming back to see you if that flour’s bad,” she promised.

“Tell you what.  Don’t worry about paying.  I don’t want to see you disappointed.”  I’ll bet he didn’t.

“Okay, but I’d be willin’ to give you twenty cents.”

“That’s alright, Miss Kat.  Wouldn’t want to beat a good customer in a deal,” he finished gallantly.

I roasted a chicken, and cooked green beans, and mashed potatoes with gravy for supper that night.  We’d bought plenty of groceries, so getting enough wasn’t a problem.  Cousin Kat pulled the biscuits from her purse and made a small fruit salad from her finds of the day.  She ate heartily, since all those groceries were going to waste anyway.  She canned the rest of the fruit with the honey and sugar from the restaurant.

Cousin Kat and the Axe Murderer(repost)

It’s not what you think. They were good friends. The Axe-Murderer had played the piano at Little Pearson Methodist Church for years. She never missed a service, but let me start at the beginning, the part where Cousin Kat took us to visit her.

I’d heard of Cousin Kat, my mother’s first cousin all my life. Though even Mother had never met her namesake, we’d had letters from her all my life. She was the eldest daughter of Grandma’s brother, Ed. Grandma had written Ed’s wife, Aunt Winnie, ever since Grandma left Virginia as a bride. Ed died and left Winnie a widow, with seven children under twelve. Grandma kept up with them, writing at least weekly. As soon as Cousin Kat got old enough, she started writing. Though none of us met Cousin Kat till she came to see us in the 1960s, with so much correspondence having passed back and forth, we all felt like we knew each other.

She was an eccentric delight, always upbeat and chipper. On one of our first visits to Cousin Kat in Virginia, she took Mother and me to services at the Methodist Church Grandma had attended. It was lovely, simple and likely unchanged since Grandma was a girl. After the services and dinner on the grounds that followed, we met everyone in the tiny community, most of whom were our relatives. Cousin Kat made a special point to have us spend time with Miss Betsy, a shy little lady who didn’t have a lot to say. As we left, Cousin Kat offered Miss Betsy a ride home, like always.

Sweet, little Miss Betsy lived a couple of miles up the mountain in a lovely shady glade in a little white house looked like something off a postcard from heaven. We had coffee and teacakes, admired the old pictures of the precious little redheaded children over her mantle and she remarked, “That little ‘un was my baby Peggy and the boy was Tommy. We had a terrible tragedy when they were little, but I can’t remember much about it.” That definitely put a damper on the visit. Then she brightened as she pointed out a recent picture of a handsome young man with a wife and four children. “That’s my son Pete. He lives in D.C. with his family. They’ll be here next weekend.

We all admired Pete and his lovely family. As we headed home, naturally I wanted to know more about the terrible tragedy Miss Betsy alluded to. Cousin Kate, remarked, “Well, people around here are pretty hard on her about that, but I always believe in letting bygones, be bygones. Betsy was always a good girl, just kind of ‘high strung.’ She really got notiony after she had her babies. Dave had to put her in the State Hospital Mental for a few weeks after she had Tommy. She had some trouble for a good while after Peggy was born, too, stayed in the hospital awhile, then Dave brought her home, thinking she was okay. She was still feelin’ purty low, but able to take care of the kids and house. Pete was in school by then. He came home and saw blood in the kitchen an’ Tommy under the table. He run an’ got Dave from the field. Dave come runnin’ in an’ Betsy hacked his arm with the axe as he came in the door. They got the sheriff out there to take her back to the State Mental Hospital, but before they took’er, they let’er get out the kids’ burial clothes. She’d made Peggy the sweetest little yellow and white-checked dress and made Tommy and Pete matching blue suits. It just about broke my heart! She stayed in the hospital a long time. They gave her a bunch of shock treatments. After a few years she got out and came home to live with Pete and Dave. Dave died a few years back. Pete comes back to visit sometimes, but he’s careful and don’t spend the night or leave her with the kids. She don’t remember nothing now, just tiptoes around like a ghost. She never has anything to say, unless somebody talks to her first. Don’t nobody around here have much to do with Betsy. I thought it might help her to see somebody new. “

I have to admit that was an interesting experience, but hoped we hadn’t intruded on sweet, sad Miss Betsy, God Bless her and her family.

Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen

imageOne of my Cousin Kat’s best friends was Don Waters who ran the funeral home.  She needed to go to Mason City to see her eye doctor when Don mentioned he had to make the trip to pick up a body at the airport. Cousin Kat was tight as Dick’s hatband and not a bit squeamish about a little thing like riding with a  body. Turns ou it was Mabel Peter’s Who she’d ridden to work with for over twenty years.  Surely Mabel, dead would be less Continue reading

Cousin Kat and the Axe-Murderer

axeIt’s not what you think. They were good friends. The Axe-Murderer had played the piano at Little Pearson Methodist Church for years. She never missed a service, but let me start at the beginning, the part where Cousin Kat took us to visit her. Continue reading