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 . . .
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