A Hog a Day Part 20

Image courtesy of Pixabay

I’ve got to end this series, since it is the basis of my next book and I don’t want to give it away but there are so many stories I want to share.  One is about a suicide and a mean Christian.

Mrs Rivers was as old as the hills. I believe she was born that way.   Widowed more than forty years, no one ever spoke of her husband.  It was impossible for me to imagine anyone could have ever wanted to marry her, as unpleasant as she appeared.  Still living in the house where  she raised her children, her son had built a house on her lot. My mother often remarked she’d be a trial as a mother-in-law as we drove  by and saw her dressed in a dark, long-sleeved dress and sun bonnet working her garden with a push plow. I’m sure she refused her son’s offer to plow her garden, because no one would have expected someone that old to plow.

Old Lady Rivers, as she was known, was a practicing Pentecostal, though she attended the Baptist Church just across the road from her house and interfered with its runnings as much as she was able.  While she didn’t have a vote, she did have opinions and battered the faithful with them as often as possible.  She was the first at services, wakes, and funerals, eager to share “how they took it” and why.  Never losing track of when a marriage was made, she was the first to predict should a baby appear to be coming “too soon.”

She was a skilled craftsman of gossip, eager to bear bad news or scandal. In the days before telephones were common in our rural community, it could be a challenge to get messages to people in a timely manner.   One sad day, a poor old gentlemen shot himself in the head out by his mailbox. His panicked wife called her son from next door for help.  The son covered his father with a sheet, but left the body lying awaiting the sheriff. A neighbor hurried to a local store to call the school principal to intercept his daughter, Alice Fay,  a school bus driver, before she left school with a bus load of children.  Sadly, they missed her by about fifteen minutes.  The principal summoned the coach and together, they hurried to catch up, hoping to spare her happening up on the grisly scene at her parent’s home, not realizing a couple of her stops had been eliminated.  He was behind her at every stop.

Old Lady Rivers heard the news before the bus was due.  She waited on the porch and puffed her way out to flag Alice Faye’s bus down.  The principal skidded to a stop behind the bus just as Alice Fay opened the bus door to see what the excited old lady wanted, Mrs. Rivers propped herself on her cane and announced, “Alice Faye, yore daddy done shot hisself in the head! God help him, he’s going to Hell for shore!”

Alice Faye reacted, as you might expect, erupting into hysterical tears as the principal and coach rushed up to comfort her and restore order to the traumatized children, three of whom were Alice Faye’s.  It was a horrendous situation.  The principal drove Alice Faye and her children home, and the coach finished the bus route on that awful day.  It was a shocking announcement of tragedy Alice Faye and her children could have been spared.

Fido Buys the Farm

Joe found his dog lying out behind his car, not moving.  He grabbed Fido up and ran him in to the vet.

Vet:  “”I’m sorry.  Your dog is dead.  That’ll be fifty bucks.”

Joe:  “No, he can’t be!”  He threw Fido in the car and drove a few miles to see Vet #2.  This one put him up on the exam table, checked him over good then brought a Labrador Retriever Into the room.  The Lab sniffed Fido, poked him with his foot, but Fido didn’t respond.  Next the vet brought a cat in and waved him over Fido.

Vet#2:  “Sorry, your dog’s dead, alright.  That’ll be three-hundred and fifty dollars.”

Joe:  “Now hold on.  The other vet only charged me fifty dollars!”

Vet #2:  “Yeah, but I did a Lab test and Cat scan!”

Just Folks Getting By Part 8

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Shot of a sweater I am crocheting my granddaughter.

“Now that’s some purty crochet.  You’re getting real smooth with them stitches.  Does it feel like your hands is gittin’ the idea?”  Lucille and Jenny were at the kitchen table with Lucy resting in a basket at their feet.  “Just look how sweet she looks with this pink.”  Lucille held a skein of pink baby yarn next to her little granddaughter’s face.  “Don’t tell Shirley, but I was always hopin’ for a girl ever’ time she got that away.  I wonder if it was because I just never got enough of you when I had to put you in the Hope Home. The thing was, I never even cried.  I just had to toughen up to get by.  I was afraid if I started, I’d fall apart.  I had to work and get the three dollars a week to the home or I might lose you.  That’s all I kept thinkin’ when the work got hard and the hours got long.”

“I can’t even imagine how hard that must have been, especially with Daddy in jail.  How did you find out what happened to him?  Weren’t you at Aunt Lucy’s?” Jenny was trying to piece her family’s past together along with learning to crochet.

“Let me show you how to do a double crochet so you can practice while I tell the story.  It’s a long one.  Okay, watch this.” Lucille demonstrated slowly, then picked up speed.  “Keep the tension on and git a rhythm.  There, now you are doing good.  Do a few till it gits easy, then I’ll show you how to turn for the next row.”  Jennie concentrated on her crochet while her mother picked up her own crochet and started her tale.

“You remember your daddy had sent us to Aunt Lucy’s on the bus to git us out of the dust when Jimmy was sick.  Well, Jimmy never did git another good breath.  He coughed up muddy stuff and kept getting worse.  We propped him up to sleep and built him a tent so he could breathe steam from a tea kettle with a few drops of kerosene in it.  We even give him three drops of kerosene in a spoon of sugar to ease the coughin’ and it worked some, but he still died about four days after we got there.  I didn’t have no way to git in touch with your daddy in time, so we had to go ahead and bury him on Aunt Lucille’s place.  We put him right near the creek, where you could hear the water running all the time.  The sound of that running water give me some comfort, at least knowing he wouldn’t be breathing dust no more.  Anyway, I wrote your daddy.  A few days later, I got a letter from Uncle Melvin lettin’ me know your daddy and his boy, Luther, had got caught runnin’  moonshine.  I was never so shocked in my life.  I thought Russ was drivin’ a truck. Uncle Melvin said they both got five years at Huntsville.  That just about kilt me, comin’ right on top of losin’ Jimmy.  He’d sent my letter back and gave me an address where I could write Russ in jail.  He’d been a’hopin’ I’d write ’cause he didn’t have no idear how to reach me.  It like to broke my heart to write your daddy in jail.

I didn’t know what to do.  I went straight to bed a’cryin’ my eyes out.  You followed me to bed, just a’pattin’ my face with your little hands.  I never got up that day.  Your Aunt Lucille left me alone, but the next mornin’ she come in and told me to git up and cook you some eggs.  You was hungry.  Then I had to help her get a wash out.  She was takin’ in washin’ then to make the rent.  I told her I didn’t feel like it, to leave me alone.  She said, “Gal, git your behind outta that bed before I take a broom to you.  You got a baby to raise.  It ain’t her fault her brother died and her daddy’s in jail.  I didn’t take you to raise!”

Lucille laughed,”I believe she’d a done it, too.”  I mean to tell you I jumped outta that bed and got to cookin’.  Soon as I got done with the dishes, she set me to drawin’ water for the wash.  I had to fill two of them big ol’ iron wash pots.  We shaved in homemade lye soap and scrubbed dirty spots on a rub board before puttin’ clothes to boil a while.  Then we dipped ’em out with a stick and put ’em in the rinse water.  We done the whites first, then good clothes, and finally towels and work clothes.  You had to go from cleanest to dirtiest or you’d mess up your whites.  When the wash water got too dirty, we’d put soap in the rinse water and finish the wash with it.  ‘Course I had to fetch clean rinse water.  I hated wringin’ them clothes.  They was so heavy.  The sheets, towels, diapers went straight on the line.  The dresses, aprons, shirts, and overalls had to be starched before dryin’.  Aunt Lucille stirred some corn starch in cold water, mixed it real smooth, and stirred it in the boilin’ rinse water.  When it was smooth, she dunked the clothes and poked ’em around with her stick till they was soaked up good.  We fished them steamin’ clothes out an’ wrung ’em out when they cooled enough.  We had four long lines of clothes flappin’ in the breeze by the time we was finally done.  The diapers and sheets was usually ready to take in by the time we got the last of the wash on the line.

By the time we got through washin’ and foldin’ I was whipped.  We ate cornbread crumbled in  buttermilk and sliced tomatoes for supper.  I thought I wouldn’t be able to keep my eyes open to eat, I was so tired.  The next mornin’ Aunt Lucille had me up at six to start the ironin’ while she picked beans.  That afternoon, we canned  beans.   She had two big pressure cookers so we put up twenty-eight quarts of green beans that afternoon.  If Aunt Lucille came in and caught me wipin’ tears, she’d set me to another task.  Every night, I was so tired, I just drug myself off to bed.  I still grieved, but it was kind of like I put my grief in a drawer and just took it out when I was free to be alone.  Aunt Lu knew what she was doing.  She’d  lost three children in one week.  She still had four to raise that needed more than a broken piece of a mama.

Two Roads Part 2

On the last day of her old life, Ma sent nine-year-old Neeley to the store with some butter and eggs to trade for baking soda and needles. As she left the store with her penny candy and Ma’s things, she saw smoke hanging over the trees.  To her horror, when she topped the ridge, flames were leaping in the field between their house and Uncle Jep’s.  She fairly flew the last few hundred yards, calling for Ma at the top of her lungs.  Tearing into the front room, she found Ma slumped in the rocker, her arm hanging limp at her side with spittle running out the corner of her mouth.  She shook Ma, then pulled her arm with no response.  Desperate to rouse Ma for escape, she dashed her with a dipper full of water.   Ma didn’t wake up!

Threatened by the approaching fire, she realized she had to get Uncle Jep.  Racing barefoot toward his house, she skirted the actively burning areas, arriving to find him and Aunt Lottie gone.  Desperately, she headed toward the nearest neighbor’s place, only to meet neighbors rushing to help put out the fire.  Crying, she told them of Ma’s troubles.  Most went on to fight the fire, but Mr. Jones and Mr. Bilieu went to check on Ma.  Mr. Bilieu took Neeley to his house for his wife to tend her burned feet.  They got Dr Crisp out to see Ma.  He came later to check on Neeley bringing sad news.  Ma was dead.

Uncle Jep came for her. She had to deal with the agony of her burned feet along with the greater pain of losing Ma and her home.  Uncle Jep loved and welcomed her, but Aunt Lottie had the burden of her care.  The overworked mother of four was quick with the switch and criticism.  It was not an easy transition for the grieving girl going from darling grandchild to “another mouth to feed.”  The farm wife already had more work and worry than she could handle before Neeley was foisted on her.  It was not a good situation for any of them.

 

Hard Time Marrying

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Their union had a bleak start. Shivering miserably on the depot platform in the freezing rain, the woman folded and refolded his tattered letter.  Angered, he thought of driving on when he saw her cradling a small child and holding the hand of a grimy toddler, a few tattered bundles at her feet. In her letter, she’d not mentioned the  little ones, though with all fairness, the marriage was only one of need on both parts. He hadn’t promised her anything either, so after hesitating, he was mollified by the thought that the little fellows served as proof she wasn’t barren.  Hurriedly, married minutes later at the preacher’s house, he apologized for the weather as they shivered the two hours home in his open wagon and was surprised to learn the woman didn’t speak or understand English.  Maybe that wasn’t so bad for a man accustomed to his own company.

Burning with fever by the time they got to his homestead, his unknown wife was dead by the next sundown, leaving him with  little ones he had no taste for. Barely reaching his knee, they toddled mutely in perpetual soggy diapers, uttering gibberish only they understood. As soon as he could, he buried his quilt-wrapped wife and headed back to dusty Talphus, Texas to rid himself of burden of her orphaned little ones. The church or the town would have to do for them. Loading them in a snug in a bed of hay, wrapped in a ragged quilt, hay heaped over them. he pitied and grieved for them on the long trip back to town, knowing the hard life they faced. Stopping several times to make sure they were warmly covered, he was relieved to find them pink and warm.

He hardened his heart against them, knowing only too well the life they faced. He’d never known family, just been passed from hand to hand.  He grieved knowing that was their lot, but deception had landed them with him and a lone-farmer could hardly be expected to shoulder the brats of a deadwoman he’d never even shared a bed with.

The Sad Saga of the Beakless, Tailless, Gizzard-bobbing, One-leg Hopping chicken

Repost of an earlier post.

Being a farm kid is not for sissies and cowards. The dark side of the chicken experience is slaughtering, plucking, cleaning, and preparing chickens for the pot.  I watched as Mother transformed into a slobbering beast as she towered over the caged chickens, snagging her victim by the leg with a twisted coat-hanger, ringing its neck and releasing it for its last run.  We crowded by, horribly thrilled by what we knew was coming.  It was scarier than ”The Night of the Living Dead”,  as the chicken, flapping its wings, running with its head hanging crazily to one side, chased us in ever larger circles until it finally greeted Saint Peter at the Pearly Gates.  It looked horribly cruel, but done properly, a quick snap of the wrist breaks the chicken’s neck instantly, giving a quick death. Of course, this is my assessment, not the unfortunate chicken. The chickens always looked extremely disturbed.

Afterward, my mother grabbed the dead chicken, plunged it into a pot of boiling water, plucked the feathers, slit its pimply white belly, removed its entrails, cut off its feet and head, and prepared it for dinner.  I was repulsed  when Mother found  unlaid eggs in the egg cavity and used them in cooking.  That just didn’t seem right.  I was happy to eat the chicken, but future eggs….disgusting.  It kind of seemed like genocide, or chickenocide, to coin a new term.

Mother looked out one day and saw one of her chickens eating corn, oblivious to the fact that her gizzard was hanging out, bobbing up and down merrily as she pecked corn with all her lady friends.  Apparently she had suffered injury from a varmint of some kind.  Clearly, she wouldn’t survive with this injury, so Mother and I set about catching her.  At least she could be salvaged for the table.  Well, she could still run just fine.  We chased her all over the yard with no luck.

Finally, Mother decided to put her out of her misery by shooting her.  She missed.  She fired again and shot the hen’s foot off.  I knew I could do better.  I shot her beak off, then hit her in the tail.  By this time, we both felt horrible and had to get her out of her misery.  Her injuries had slowed the poor beakless, tailless, gizzard-bobbing, one-leg hopping chicken down enough so we could catch her and wring her neck.

All chickens didn’t end life as happily.  The LaFay girls, Cheryl, Terry, and Cammie raised chickens to show at the fair for 4-H, with a plan to fill their freezer with the rest.  Late one Thursday evening while their widowed mother was at work, they realized tomorrow was the day for the big barbecue chicken competition.  Mama wouldn’t be in until way too late to be helping with slaughtering and dressing the chickens.  After all the time and effort they had put in on their project, they had no choice but to press forward without Mama’s help.  They’d helped Mama with the dirty business of putting up chickens lots of times.  They’d just have to do manage on their own.

Cheryl, the eldest, drew the short straw, winning the honor of wringing the chicken’s neck.  She’d seen Mama do it lots of times, but didn’t quite understand the theory of breaking the neck with a quick snap.  She held the chicken by the neck,  swung it around a few times in a wide arc,  giving it a fine ride, and released it to flee drunkenly with a sore neck.   The girls chased and recaptured the chicken a couple of times, giving it another ride or two before the tortured chicken managed to fly up in a tree, saving its life.

Acknowledging her sister’s failure, Terry stepped up to do her duty.  She pulled her chicken from the pen, taking it straight to the chopping block, just like she’d seen Mama do so many times.  Maybe she should have watched a little closer.  Instead of holding the chicken by the head  and chopping just below with the hatchet, Terry held it by the feet.  The panicked chicken raised its head, flopped around on the block, and lost a few feathers.  On the next attempt, Cammie tried to help by holding the chicken’s head, but wisely jumped when Terry chopped, leaving the poor chicken a close shave on its neck.

indian-dress-and-henBy now, all three girls were squalling.  Cheryl tied a string on the poor chicken’s neck, Cammie held its feet and they stretched the chicken across the block.  By now, Terry was crying so hard so really she couldn’t see.  She took aim, and chopped Henny Penny in half, ending her suffering.   Guilt-stricken, they buried the chicken.  Defeated, they finally called their Aunt Millie, who came over and helped them kill and dress their chickens for the competition, which they won.  All’s well that ends well.

Miss Laura Mae’s House Part 6

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“Kathleen, I hate to bother you, but Oly is comin’in on the bus Friday. Would you mind takin’ me to pick her up?” I listened in as Miss Laura buttered my biscuit.

“Sure, I’ll be glad to. Is that the one whose husband just died?” Mother asked.

“Yes, he’d been sick in bed a long time,” replied Miss Laura. “I was poorly when he died and couldn’t make it for the funeral, so Oly told me to just wait an’she’d come stay awhile after she got him buried. We never got to visit much. She was just a baby when she married an’ and I only got to see her once in a great while.”

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I was fascinated with the idea of a baby marrying and couldn’t wait to see her. Maybe we could play together. As I stood on the step with my biscuit, I was lost in thought. imagining a pig-tailed girl my age steeping off a school bus, the only bus I knew a thing about.

Mother pulled in at Mitchell’s Cafe out on the highway on Friday. We sweltered in the July heat as Billy and I tusseled in the back seat. Mother and Miss Laura Mae fanned themselves as heat monkeys danced on the pavement. Dust fogged in the open car windows as a long gray vehickle with a picture of a skinny dog pulled up.

“Here she comes!” Miss Laura Mae clutched her big black purse and heaved herself out of the car as the bus door opened.

I sat up and watched for a little girl in a wedding dress to emerge, but no one got off but an old lady in a flowered dress. Miss Laura Mae hurried over, catching her in a huge hug smashing their identical pushes between them. Her curly white hair was caught up in a hair net and she wore the same black lace-up old lady oxfords as Miss Laura Mae. The bus driver pulled her bag from a bin on the side of the bus. Mother helped her load it in the trunk.

“Kathleen, this is my sister, Oly.” Sadly, I abandoned my hope of a playmate.

“Nice to meet you, Miss Oly. How are you doing?”

“Oh, I couldn’t be better,” said Miss Oly. “I ain’t baked a biscuit since June 6th, the day my Ol’ man died!”

Miss Laura Mae and Miss Oly laughed out loud as Mother replied, “Oh, that’s nice,” as she cranked the car.

https://nutsrok.wordpress.com/2016/04/24/miss-laura-maes-house-part-7/

Spam, Vagina, Penis, and Breasts, the Biggest Hits

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'I can too show gratitude. I'm just saving it for the right moment.'

‘I can too show gratitude. I’m just saving it for the right moment.’

Just thought I’d do a little test. I am putting the biggest searches to see how many hits I get on this post. Sorry, there won’t be any tantilyzing or provocative pictures, just deadly boring text. I will also list some tags I have used and gotten big draws. Please excuse this cheap trick. I will definitely not be posting this on Facebook.

How Not to Get in Good With the Snotty Girls

imageAs I ran to the playground, I spotted my “sometimes friend” Betty Green deep in conversation with Rita Lawson, the principal’s snotty daughter. The choice of friendship each day was Betty’s. Her mother and mine were friends, so when when we we at my house or hers, chances are she’d be nice to me, unless she wasn’t.  I was a friendly kid and would have played with a rattlesnake. When Betty saw me running up, she turned her back, making it clear she didn’t want my company when she finally had Snotty Rita all to herself.  Ignoring her cue I tromped right in. “Wanna play chase?” They didn’t. They were both squalling and loftily resumed their tearful conversation, bonding over shared grief. It seems each had recently discovered the existence of a baby sister, dead and buried long before either of these two snotties were born. I listened in awe, caught up in the drama, knowing I had nothing to offer on the altar of their shared grief.

I rushed in and questioned Mother as soon as I got home. “Did you ever have a baby that died?”

No she didn’t. I had heard women whisper of losing babies. I had no idea what that meant, but it might be worth a try.

“Did you ever lose a baby?” She was hugely pregnant at the time and quite touchy.

“No, now get started on your homework. If you don’t have any, help me with supper.”

I recalled lots of homework. Remembering an ancient picture in a box in Mother’s closet, I prowled till I found it. Aha! This will surely get me in the dead baby club!  I slipped it into my math book, the first time that book had been opened at home that year.

Betty and Snotty Rita were still best buddies at recess the next day. I ran up, ignoring their cold looks, as I pulled my prize out of my jacket pocket. “Look, I have a picture of my dead baby sister. She died before I was born.” The sad image of an angelic baby in a white Christening dress, laid out in a homemade wooden coffin, her eyes closed in death was undeniable. Her black hair curled around her tiny face. They examined the picture somberly, giving me sympathetic looks as tears sprung to their eyes. I enjoyed their friendship for about thirty seconds until Betty turned the picture over and found scribbled, “Carrie Louise Perkins, born and died July 7, 1904.” I was out!!!