Hey Y’all. Come on in, pull up a chair, have a nice glass of cold ice tea and sit while I spin you a good yarn. (That’s southern for tell you a story.) Here… take this pan of Conk peas and shell them while we talk. It’s nice to visit but the work must go on.
Statistics show that a lot of people get depressed and some even commit suicide around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. I can get through those days without a hitch. It’s these, I guess you’d call them Indian Summer, days that put me in a melancholy mood. No, I’m not depressed or even sad it is just a dull feeling of loneliness deep inside. I can’t explain it. Maybe it’s because the days are shorter and the sunlight seems to have a softer gentler glow. Who the heck knows? My thoughts turn to Georgia and my family. But I’m not like the country singer Charlie Pride I know I can’t live there or like that any more. Don’t get me wrong it was not all bad. I had a wonderful, loving family and I miss them a lot. But in my case the adage is so true: I can’t go home again. Even if I went back I could not see them because they are all dead except one sister. The city condemned and burned our old shack of a house. Only the chimney remains standing in a lot cluttered with weeds and rubbish. But today my thoughts go back before the years spent in that house.
Daddy was a farmer with ten kids and a wife. (I was the baby of the family, a great story there for another time.) Talk about being like the Waltons; I swear some of their stories matched my family perfectly. Only we didn’t have running water or an indoor toilet. Nope. My older sisters and brothers had to draw water from a deep well with a rope and bucket. There was an unpainted, gray from age and weather, foot wide shelf that ran from the wall to one of the support posts on the back porch. A gallon, medal bucket of water set on that shelf up close to the house. A white trimmed in red enamel dipper, with a black spot about the size of pea on the inside bottom where the enamel was chipped, hung on a nail on the wall close to the bucket. When we were thirsty we just took the dipper down and dipped up water from the bucket. Yep, we all drank from the same dipper. And a large enamel pan that matched the dipper was farther down, closer to the post on the shelf and that is where we washed our face and hands. The area around the pan was always wet and a bar of sticky soap lay on the soggy wood. Someone had hammered in a nail, leaving about half an inch sticking out on the front of the shelf and that’s where a threadbare towel hung so we could dry ourselves after washing. We all knew better than to come to the table with a dirty face and hands when called to supper. The towel always felt damp and smelled like Cashmere soap.
On Saturday evenings the boys would lug one of Momma’s number two tin wash tubs into the kitchen so we could take a bath. My older sisters would draw water from the well and heat it on the wood stove to fill the tub. The water was not thrown out after each person bathed. Oh no, it was only dumped after it got so dirty no one could get clean in it if they tried. Then two of the boys would each take a handle and carry the tub out and dump the water on Momma’s flowers. Absolutely nothing was wasted. And the bath process started again until everybody was clean so they could go to church the next morning.
What about the toilet? We’ll save that for a later blog.
Thanks for stopping by. Please come back now, you hear, for more stories on the Farmer’s Daughter.