A Hog a Day

Photo from Library of Congress. Notice images of mother and child, fashionable young woman and Santa Claus, and other papers papers on wall.

“I had to kill a hog a day to feed them boys of mine.”  I was impressed.  Mr. Rose’s boys were grown and  gone, but I couldn’t get that image out of my mine as I looked around at the house the old man  shared with Miss Bessie.  Kids have the luxury of not having the responsibility of conversation, so I could enjoy the whole experience of listening, hospitality, and looking at everything as much as I liked, as long as I didn’t touch anything.  Believe me, I was not tempted to touch with both my parents vigilantly looking on.  The room was fascinating, but I did wish I could see those boys who could eat a hog a day.

No rug covered the white pine floor. Old newspapers and magazine pages were tacked  on the exterior walls of the room with no regard for their orientation served as wallpaper.  The loveliest was a beautiful young woman with blonde curls piled high on her head.  She wore a blue gingham dress with ruffled sleeves and carried an equally beautiful ham on a large platter.  That gorgeous ham was crisscrossed with slashes and garnished with pineapple slices, maraschino cherries, and cloves.  I practically salivated at its loveliness.  Its charm was enhanced by the fact that the image had been tacked upside down.  Somehow, seeing it upside down made it more memorable.  Though I have tried many times, I have never prepared a ham so lovely.

A large fireplace made of red iron ore rock centered one end of the sitting room.  The brick hearth extended out a few feet into the the  room.  Miss Bessie invited me and my brother to sit on the hearth and warm up.  I sat flat at a safe distance from the glowing embers.  Its waxy-looking orange and yellow coals looked alive.  I couldn’t look away from the story they seemed to be whispering to me.  Though the conversation was fascinating, both me and my brother eventually nodded stretched out on the heat-soaked hearth before the glowing fire in the way only a small child could.  I know now, Mother had to have had her eye on me to keep me safe from the fire.

Before dozing off, I heard Mr. Rose tell of the night the house almost caught fire.  He must have thought I was asleep or he’d never have told of being naked, a thrilling tidbit..  “It was way over in January, the coldest night of the year.  I banked the fire real good like I always do.  We was in bed soon as Bessie got the kitchen cleaned up, right after dark.  Seems like the cold went right through me.  I just couldn’t wait to git under them quilts.  I always slept naked, I don’t know why.  I just got the habit early and never changed it.  Anyway, I was dead asleep and Bessie woke me up.

‘Grady, git up!  I smell smoke.  The house is on fire!’

“I jumped out of that bed!  Sure enough, I smelled pine burning.  I seen where a spark had done dropped down where some mortar had fell down n the back of the firebox between a hole in the bricks.  I clumb  under the house and found where it had set the pine sleeper that run under the floor on fire.  They warn’t no flames yet, but it was getting ready to bust out.  I called Bessie to bring me a bucket of water.  She come flying up and instead of passing it to me, she doused me with that bucket of water.  I mean to tell you I put that fire out!”

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Burn Baby, Burn

Sometimes Bud can be difficult.  One lovely day, we both headed outdoors.  I had my work.  He had his.  I busied myself, digging, shoveling sand, putting out flagstones. Meanwhile, he pottered about at some uninteresting task of his own, never even asking if I needed help. After putting the last touches  on my patio, I went for the water hose.  I felt smug at finding it stretched across the backyard, since he’s always after me about winding it back up, barely letting me finish what I’m doing. Nevertheless, I pulled it back around to my new flower bed.  Bud had even left the water on, just shut off by the adapter.  That wasn’t like him at all.  I’d have to mention it when I got through.

It wasn’t long before Bud tore around the corner yanking the hose, clearly in a panic. Rudely, he grabbed the hose and took off, not even asking whether I was finished. I followed and found him spraying a pile burning yard refuse that had almost gotten away from him. It turns out, he’d had the water hose nearby just in case and hadn’t noticed when me taking it when he’d turned away to pile on more brush. Fortunately, he got the blaze under control. Unfortunately, not before it consumed the nice sweeper he’d disconnected from his tractor and left near the pile. He’s much more careful with the new one he bought to replace it and thoughtfully tells me when he’s about to burn, now.

My project certainly turned out better than his.

 

If You Can Hear Us……..

Scary0004

Our community, like all small communities, had its well-loved ghost, Sally Macon. Like all kids, my sisters and Bud’s sisters, loved to play seance. We grew up within three miles of each other, so they spent a lot of time together. All the girls had gotten hooked on the Gothic Soap, “Dark Shadows,” featuring ghosts, vampires, and spooky seances. The girls were hidden in Connie’s dark bedroom around a flickering candle, calling to Sallie. “Aunt Sallie, if you hear us, make yourself known.” they chanted in unison. Mother saw the flickering candle light under the door and listened in long enough to realize what was up. She eased outside, scratched on Connie’s window and moaned, “Woooooo!”

Terrified they’d actually raised the dead, the four girls nearly beat each other to death tearing out of the room. In their haste, they ran over Daddy, stretched out napping in his recliner. In his panic, he started yelling, “Get out! Get out! The house in on fire.” By this time, of course Mother was back in, surveying all the excitement. The four girls eventually walked back from wherever they’d run, to find out Aunt Sally hadn’t come calling after all.

good pic of Dad

Trial by Fire

fireI don’t write much about the history of my father’s side of the family because they simply didn’t have the strong oral tradition that my mother’s family did.  This is such a loss.  My paternal grandmother was abandoned by her mother, raised by her grandmother till she was nine.  She spent the rest of her childhood in the home of an uncle whose wife made Continue reading

Murdering Bum (from Kathleen’s Memoirs of The Great Depression)

Boy was Mama ever mad when I got home!  Rob Grissom, was sitting kicked back in front room reading when I walked in.  Lord only knows why Daddy tolerated him.  Mama just said he didn’t have the gumption to run him off.  As much as I hate to admit it, she was probably right.  Daddy was a soft touch.  Rob just showed up once in a while and hung Continue reading

“Where’s Betty Boo?”

”Betty Boo(Blue)” was the first toy I remember. Blonde-haired Betty and her bright blue dress were molded in the hard celluloid of cheap toys of the 1930’s.  I loved Betty and played with her constantly.  Though I was careful, in the hands of a tiny child, it was her Continue reading