Wednesday, February 10, 2010
A Simpler Time
I remember the anticipation of seeing my grandmothers and my cousins. It was an exhilarating feeling and somehow in my Child's mind it didn’t occur to me that they had the same radio and the same television and the same access to news we did. It always seemed that the folks were talking about the difference between Fort Wayne, Indiana and Pippa Passes/Hindman Kentucky. The two worlds looking back seemed nothing alike. I suppose to a child getting to go away from home and being spoiled would seem different regardless, but there were major differences in the life styles. My parents always took soda pop and potato chips, cookies and pretzels to give out to the people we visited. This was partially because my dad worked a big portion of my childhood for Seyferts Potato chips. In the earlier years we would travel when my dad got off work and often arrived in the wee hours of the morning before anyone had awakened. We would then sit and wait until some semblance of life stirred in the home we were going to. As we grew older it got to were we would leave early morning and get there late afternoon. To me it didn’t really matter which grandmother we went to first. My grandmother Lula lived up a holler that my dad didn’t take the car up. We would park at the end of it and walk. I love the memory of that mere five to ten minute walk along the gravel path and beside the little creek to find my grandmother standing on the edge of the porch with her bright smile welcoming us. She always had a dog that would inevitably come out to great us as well. Oh how I loved those dogs too. We didn’t have a pet for a great portion of my childhood because my dad really didn’t like having them around. He didn’t feel they were clean and I suppose didn’t feel we would be responsible. When we were finally allowed to get a pet it was a cat. My grandmother, Lula’s house was small. It had a half wrap porch that was taller than I was as a child and probably would come about chest high on me now. (That is not short as in I am five foot nine inches tall.) There were two doors we primarily used when going in my grandmothers home. The first one was a side door and if entering it you would step directly into the kitchen and dining room as it was. Immediately to the left was a sink, but it did not have running water, but rather buckets with dippers for getting the water out. You see she had ‘real’ well water and many a times my brother and I have drawn buckets of water up from her well. I even recall one summer when my dad and my uncles dug her a new well. There were fish in the well and if you caught them in the bucket you had to throw them back. Immediately behind the kitchen if you went straight was a bedroom and a door leading to another bedroom which I don’t recall ever having been in. You see my uncle Paul had some issues mentally and he didn’t take visitors except small children and my grandmother. I do recall him sitting in a window where we could see him and he would watch for hours as us children played in the yard just behind the house. There was a pantry in the kitchen and then the living room was off to the right of the kitchen. There were two pull out sofas in that living room where company could sleep. There was an old dresser I would love to have had in the living room, a small television a couple of chairs and a baseboard heater. Out behind the house there were smoke houses and an outhouse out on the hill. No running water or indoor plumbing in this house. It was definitely like stepping back in time. There were chicken coops and a barn that had the creek dug through it to make watering the horses much easier. Except for late night there was no need for television to entertain adults or children either one. The adults would sit and tell stories of days gone by and every relative you could imagine would be there to see us, as well as the occasion neighbor who was just passing by, but be assured they were not strangers for in the hill country everyone knows their neighbors no matter how far apart they live. There were always plenty of cousins for us to play tag or ball with, as well as going down to the creek (Crick in the south) and fishing for craw dads. (Crayfish) -- Lord only knows what kept us from getting bit by rattle snacks and everything else. We would play up and down the hillside and we were rarely careful to watch our step. My grandmother kept corn fields and chickens and hogs. They were a small source of entertainment as well I suppose along with the dozens of cats. Some of those cats were not only house cat. They surely had to be mixed with the bob cats that did roam the hillsides because they were enormous. While south we would make our rounds and attempt to see as many relatives as possible. When we were younger we would stay a week, but as we got older it turned into a two day trip. I suppose the struggles of jobs and work and getting older on my parents behalf may have been responsible for that. We always went to my aunt Bonnie’s. She lived on the same holler as my grandmother Lula. She had these step stairs that went up to her house. She also had lots of children of her own so again we had plenty to do. That was entertaining in that you may hear a wild story from my uncle Forest or even if you were lucky you might get to hear him play some music or he’d show you his horse. My grandmother Jezzie lived a couple of different places over the years. For a while she lived up that same holler and I can remember the wondrous times we had out in the yard playing basketball, chasing the dog and running back to the little creek bed. Then there was the huge basement where we would listen to Johnny Rivers’s records and pretend we were a secret agent, just like in the song. There are so many wonderful memories of those times. It seems so many of those people are no longer with us though. It’s also unfortunately a little more up to date with the times. Relatives there are taking up the Internet and supermarkets are no longer a long journey. I rarely hear of family and friends just getting together to hang out on the porch and reminisce. I’m hopeful though that if I get to go in the spring perhaps for old time sake they will all gather and remember those gone on and times of jubilance and joy. Death is part of life, but only the body dies and the spirit moves on. The memories are always with us. So as I detest this cold weather I do owe it one semblance of gratitude in that since I can’t get outside I did have time for my mind to wonder back over the many people who still live in my heart and the time period where life was a little simpler and time seemed to stand still. This is just one more area of memories that will forever be in my mind.