Growing up during World War II wasn't the easiest way of life for most citizens of America. Our family was no different in many ways. The main sacrifice was the absence of my daddy, who joined The Marine Corp the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed by the Japanese.

I was too young to remember very much about those months after daddy left. Oh, but I DO remember the nights brother and I slept with mother; the three of us crying until sleep overcame us. Mother began trying to sort out just how things would be in our family with daddy away. It was decided that brother and I would go to live with grandmother and grandpa.

Although we missed our daddy and mother terribly, especially the first few months; life on the farm was DELIGHTFUL. There was no electricity, no indoor plumbing (if you catch my drift:-), cooking and heating was on an old black iron wood~burning stove. We used kerosene lamps for lighting. Bath water had to be heated on that old stove, too. Grandmother bathed us in a number two washtub which was no small feat. Because of these circumstances, brother and I had only about two "real" baths a week. The other evenings we'd just get "wash~offs".

On the days we'd find an old cardboard box ~ flatten it out to make a sled . . . there you'd find us flying down the hill on our make-shift sleds having the time of our lives. Quite some years before television, but, we did have one of those old~ fashioned radios. It was battery~operated, therefore, time~ rationing was very important to grandmother. Grandpa loved to listen to The Grand Ole' Opry on Saturday night and there was preaching both of them enjoyed hearing.

In preparation for a Saturday night's funtime, grandmother always provided delicious treats upon which to feast: caramel popcorn balls, apple fritters, roasted candied pecans and home~made cookies of all sorts. WHAT A FEAST!!! After radio-time, we'd gather around her upright piano for a sing~a~ long. I recall Christmases she allowed us to help her make decorations for the Christmas tree. We strung popcorn, painted pine cones, dressed a cardboard angel for the tree top and grandmother would place a few candles upon the branches. What PRECIOUS memories.

Warm, fuzzy feelings also often return to me when I think of those marvelous feather mattresses piled high with grandma's quilts and feather comforters in the wintertime. Cozy and snuggly were we as we enjoyed hot chocolate and home~made goodies with which grandmother tucked us in at night. Ohhhh, we had our share of sulfur and molasses, too, when that was called for plus a number of other good ole' "home~remedies". Our grandmother just KNEW how to make an ailing child WELL! Even THOSE times are remembered dearly.

In the summertime, grandmother thoughtfully sprinkled the beds with fragrance enhanced water to cool the sheets. After prayers, Brother and I drifted off to dreamland with the fragrance of heather, lavender, rose, rosemary, cinnamon filling our noses. Ahhhhhhhh, sweet memories.

I remember how grandmother and grandpa would "wake up with the chickens" ~ literally. They raised chickens, turkey, guinea, a few cattle, ducks and PIGS. Also, they farmed vegetables and operated a small dairy.

It was at the age of eight I fell madly in love with PIGS. The sows had several litters during our time on the farm. The hogs were OIC breed ~ totally white with pink noses and ears. I remember holding each little piglet ~ I was literally in "HOG'S HEAVEN." I named each one and grandpa would allow me to tag along with him down to the sty to tend the hogs. Even in his busyness . . he would take time for me to hold the baby piglets (against their mother's better judgment, may I add. Nonetheless, this was a childhood delight and very special time for me.

Brother had his chores ~ I had mine. Brother usually helped grandpa in the fields (although sometime I would get to tag along there, as well. Sugar cane ~ watermelon ~ cantaloupe and every kind of vegetable you can think of ~ they raised. Row after row of corn ~ peanuts ~ potatoes ~ onions ~ beans and peas are just some of grandpa's crops. Grandmother also planted and tended her own "Victory" garden.

Churning was one of "my" chores ~ what a laugh ~ for I dearly LOVED IT. It surely was NEVER a chore to me. I loved the sweet, creamy butter we received from my "labours". Also, delicious buttermilk with which grandmother taught me to bake buttermilk biscuits ~ not to mention cornbread. I helped grandmother can whatever vegetables and fruit were in season. I remember the rows of brightly colored jars lining the shelves in the cellar. Not only were they lovely, but DELICIOUS. We also had a root cellar ~ home of onions, potatoes and such. Also, a smoke house for the meats.

One of my fonder memories was grandmother's brass bell. She'd get out on that back porch and begin ringing that bell ~ calling grandpa in from the fields. He would be dragging from hours spent plowing. Here he'd come with brother bringing up the rear. Grandpa'd be awhistlin'. How grandpa loved to whistle. Chores were long from over though . . . off he went to call up the cows and herd them into the barn for milking. Cows had to be milked morning and evening along with all the other routine for dairying. Everyone pitched in on the milking in the evening 'cause it was near supper~time.

We LOVED suppertime. Grandmother knew how to prepare food fit for a king. Her meals were never hap~hazardly prepared. Grandmother took pride in everything she did. She was a wonderful cook ~ a fabulous seamstress ~ artful gardener ~ supreme homemaker!!! Not only that . . . she was so well respected by everyone in that community. Her advice was often sought for all manner of things. Grandmother wasn't "educated" in college (few women were at that time) . . . but she had WISDOM. God~given wisdom and good common sense gave grandmother gifts and talents for which she was greatly admired. Grandmother must have been kissed by angels.

Grandmother would have quilting bees, in which several of our neighbor~ladies would participate. I recall the quilting frame was suspended from the ceiling and the ladies gathered round to fellowship and quilt. Grandmother would prepare "special" treats to serve during "quilting" and taught me the finer points of "serving" guests. What a special time this was for all of us. I can almost smell the fragrance of fresh apple, cherry and blackberry pies baking in that old iron wood~burning stove . . . YUMMY !!!

Blackberry pickin' was on the list of "favorite~things~to~do", as well. Brother and I carried our pails and off we'd go into the woods in search of those tasty blackberries. To this day blackberry jam is my favorite biscuit and toast topper.

I shall never forget one disaster that occurred during our blackberry picking. There we were . . . just minding our own business, filling our pails with luscious berries, when to our horror, hornets began swarming all over brother (he'd inadvertently stepped upon a hornet's nest). Of all the hootin' ~ hollerin' ~ screaming and crying that went on as pails went flying one way and brother and I running the other as fast as our legs could carry us ~ hornets giving chase!!! Brother was stung quite a few places and in MUCH pain by the time we arrived at the house. I've often wondered why the hornets did not sting me. I thank the Lord they didn't!

Our darlin' grandmother "took the bull by the horns" and immediately began doctorin' brother. I shall never forget what she used to take the pain out of those stings. Of all things ~ grandpa's earwax ~ can you believe it? And what is even MORE shocking ~ IT WORKED. She told grandpa to dig out some of his earwax and he accommodated her. It seemed to immediately begin soothing those stings, for which brother was SO grateful. Blackberry pickin' would have to wait for another day.

Church is another very fond and sweet memory for me. Grandpa would hitch up the mules to the wagon and off we'd go dressed in our Sunday best. We were there every time the doors opened. Grandmother played piano for both The Methodists and Baptists (shared the same church building). She also taught Sunday School. It was an ole' wooden country church with wooden benches for pews. Ladies carried those old~fashioned fans and made good use of them throughout services.

I suppose there just WERE NOT any BAD cooks in that little country community. Sometimes we'd have all~day~singings with dinner~on~the~ground. My, my, my ~ what cherished memories are stored in my treasure~chest. The tables would be set up with white tablecloths filled up with the most delicious soul~ food anyone can imagine. Fried chicken was always my favorite of the meats. Potatoes have always been my favorite tubers. One just can't ruin a potato as far as I'm concerned. Then every kind of vegetable cooked in a variety of ways ~ ALL just mouth~watering ~ not to mention DESSERTS ~ NOTHING store~bought for SURE !!!

Praying~ preaching~singing~then outside to the other "goodies"!!! Babies tucked away in cradles with teens left to fan them to sleep ~ menfolk taking their plates to sit under a spreading oak tree to settle the problems of the world. Ladies fussing around with the food making sure everyone had a plate. Then and only then would their plates be filled and a time to visit with one another talking over the sermon (and lady~talk) while the children feasted and frolicked. Beautiful moments ~ beautiful memories that shall last me a lifetime.

Dedicated to my loving grandparents:
Oscar L. and Mary J. Bowlin
now making their Home in Heaven

©Mary Carter Mizrany
Used With Permission
All Rights Reserved By Author


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