Poor Hungry Kool-Aid Kids


Mary was the child-bride (victim) of an old-goat in his seventies.  God only knows what kind of situation he’d rescued her from, since she clearly adored him.  When I first met them on a ramble with Daddy when I was about ten years old, they lived with their two babies on a creek bank an old school bus that had been converted into a trailer for hunters.  Two full bunks ran across one end.  Twin army cots were stacked along both sides.  A stove, powered by propane sat near the front door.  The family’s few belongings were stored in boxes under the beds.  Though I was only a kid, I could see that Mary was just a teenager.  Mother later told me she was only eighteen.  She was hugely pregnant.  I was enchanted with their trailer, thinking how nice it would be if our family lived such an adventure.

Not long afterward, the neighborhood learned of the family’s dilemma, helping them into a small rental house not far from us.  My youngest sister Marilyn was an infant at the time with rampant milk allergies.  In consultation with her doctors, Mother had tried many formulas.  Finally, in desperation, she and the doctor settled on a frequent feeding regimen, supplemented by feeding her warm Jell-O in her bottle, so she would still have the experience of sucking.  Finally, she thrived.  Young Mary, struggling with two babies under two and newborn twins and a husband averse to working, was struggling find milk for her babies.  All four of her children cried all the time.  The neighbors brought food in, but the new-borns just looked pitiful.  She was visiting one morning and told Mother she had put her babies on Kool-Aid, like Mother had, thinking it would help, but it looked like the babies were starving.  Mother was shocked and explained that she was giving her baby Jell-O, not Kool-Aid, and supplementing with frequent feedings.

The church provided many cases of canned milk, as well as other food.  All the children did much better.  Social Services was notified. Mary got some help, though she did have four more children over the years before we lost touch with them.

We did eventually end up with that classy camper, but that’s a story for another day.

Annie and the Hinsons

Annie Lee Holdaway0001 (2)enlargedPictured is Annie Lee Holdaway 1941

Excerpt from Kathleen’s Memoirs of The Great Depression

To my great sorrow, Annie had finished all ten grades in Cuthand.  On Mr. Kinnebrew’s recommendation, she’d gotten a position as mother’s helper to Mrs. Hinson, his wealthy aunt who lived almost adjoining the Clarksville High School. Judge and Mrs. Hinson were one of the most prominent families in Clarksville.  They’d had only one child, Laura, who was “sweet but simple.”  They’d always doted on Laura, giving her a privileged, though very protected life.  Unfortunately, Mrs. Hinson was hospitalized for a while when Laura was about fifteen, leaving Laura in the care of the housekeeper by day and her father at night.  The gardener who clearly saw how they doted on Laura was able to woo and win her without her mama’s interference.  Naturally, she fell for the first man to ever allowed to pay attention to her, even though he was nearly fifty.  When he caught the housekeeper was too busy to notice, the old goat slipped her off to marry one afternoon.

He convinced Laura to keep the secret of their marriage until it was obvious a baby was on the way.  Not surprisingly, for the sake of decency and their daughter’s happiness, the Hinsons did their best for Laura and her family.  Laura wanted her useless husband.  He had enough sense to know which side his bread was buttered on, so was always good to her and the children, though he never worked again.  The Hinsons built her a nice house, adjoining theirs. Over the next few years, Laura had a large brood, but was never capable of keeping house or caring for the children, so Mrs. Hinson had a housekeeper to take care of the house and help with the children.  Annie’s job was feed and dress the school kids off in the morning and make sure they got their homework in the evening.  For this she got room, board, a small salary and generous bonuses.  She had to be there Monday afternoon through Friday morning.  It was a wonderful job for a high-school student.  It broke my heart to see her catching a ride in with the mail carrier at six am on Monday morning, but was the high point of the week when he dropped her back off Friday afternoon, full of tales of the Hinsons, high-school, or life in Clarksville.  She always managed to bring me a tiny gift or two, such or a damaged book or toy one of the kids no longer wanted.  Best of all, was a piece of Laura’s candy.

Any story Annie brought me from her time at the Hinson’s was golden.  Though Laura was simple, she had a gift for making candy.  Hotels, stores, and high end business competed for the confections she she’d learned early to make candy at the hand of the housekeeper who raised her.  Her husband was only too happy to serve as delivery man for her, selling all the candies Laura cared to make.  What a stroke of luck for him!  He’d married the goose who laid the golden egg!