Monday, August 28, 2006

When We Were Young....Part 2

I thought I would continue with some more of my childhood memories that I started writing about in this post.....

When we were young...that shotgun house in town that I wrote about here had wild honeybees nesting in between the clapboard siding and the inside wall. In the summertime the heat would melt the honey and it ran down the side of the house. I remember dipping my fingers into the honey and tasting that wild sweetness. Thinking back o
n it, I suppose the paint chips and assorted grit and bugs must have made it especially good, because to this day I don't recall tasting honey that was any better than that scooped off the side of our house with a grubby finger.

n we were young...Daddy put up a tire swing for me and Cecil and our nieces and nephews in that huge sycamore in the front yard. Daddy put our first swing up with rope. This memory is as much Cecil's as mine because we both figure largely in this memory. Being older than Cecil by 16 months I naturally knew much more than she and according to her, I tended to boss her around quite a bit. If you've never twisted a swing tight in one direction, then let it unwind, you haven't lived! Oh, the dizzying fun! I particularly loved that pastime, and tended to hog the swing, not taking turns like I should have with Cecil. Let me tell you something about ropes, just in case you didn't already know it: ropes tend to fray and break with repeated stress. Case in point, the repeated stress of being wound tight and then released, umpteen times a day, day in and day out. Well, that rope's number came up while I was in the throes of a doozy of a ride. Right in the middle of my hillbilly pirhouette the rope on the tire swing broke, flinging me untethered into the air. I came back to earth with a jarring thud, right in the middle of the biggest mudhole of water you've ever seen, flat of my back, my hands and legs still clutching that tire in a death-grip. It knocked the wind out of me, literally and figuratively. Cecil just stood there and hee-hawed, and by the time I got my breath back was well out of reach. I'd like to say that was the end of my bossing her around, but I can't truthfully say that. Daddy put a log chain up for the next tire swing. Seems like we broke it the same way, but I'm not sure. It's only been 35 years ago, don't know why I can't remember any better...

When we were young...Cecil and I made up our own games and played with whatever was on hand, including whatever unfortunate critters that were unlucky enough to innocently wander into our realm. To her credit, Cecil wasn't quite as fascinated with bugs and other assorted varmints as I was, but we were both totally amazed with a particular bug that inhabited our yard and the cotton fields that surrounded our yard. Red velvet ants were plentiful in our yard, and it's probably a good thing, because Cecil and I would watch them and follow them endlessly as they skittered on their way, doing whatever ants need to do. They are huge, about an inch long, and really do look like they have red and black velvet on them. We would scoop up dirt and pour on them, and watch them dig out. I seem to remember giving them a drink of water from time to time, and feeding them bread or whatever we could scavenge. I have no idea if they ate it or not, but it's just the right thing to do to take care of your pets and your toys, and the red velvet ants did double duty. I don't think I've ever seen red velvet ants since we lived there, so I hope we didn't singlehandedly wipe out the only population in Arkansas.

When we w
ere young...I remember digging for worms to go fishing and occasionally digging up a mud puppy. Mud puppies are salamanders and they are really neat. They don't bite and are perfectly harmless. They have the softest, smoothest skin I think I've ever touched. We caught toad frogs, too, and played with them, very gently, but Mama was very strict about not harming any of the critters we caught or watched. If Mama ever got wind of anybody harming a toad or any critter for that matter, look out. Somebody was about to get their seat warmed, and good. That's one quality that Mama passed on to me. I can't and won't stand for anybody being cruel to an animal just because they're bigger and stronger. It ain't right, and I ain't having it, that's all there is to it.

When we were young...Cecil and I fought like the proverbial cats and dogs at times, but
on cold winter nights a ceasefire was called. I've seen chicken coops that were more weather-tight than that old tarpaper shack we lived in, and it wasn't unusual for snow to blow in around the windows and doors. We woke up many times to find snow on our bedcovers. It was too dangerous to keep a fire going in the cast iron heating stove at night, so Daddy allowed it to go out. Mama would pile on the homemade quilts and scratchy wool army blankets until we could barely turn over at night, the covers were so heavy. Now when it gets that cold at night, it can cause temporary amnesia. Even enemies tend to forget what they were fighting about and snuggle up to each other. Of course the battle resumed in the morning when everybody thawed out.

When we were young...we roasted on one side by that wood stove, and froze on the other. You had to turn at that certain strategic moment so that you didn't burn on one si
de as the other was contracting frostbite. There's an art to it. Cecil and I wore white, hightop leather shoes when we were small, and I remember Daddy putting our shoes on the woodpile behind the stove to warm before he put them on us. Several times he got busy doing something and forgot our shoes "cooking" on the woodpile. Scorching leather has a certain aroma, you know? At least one pair of those shoes had to have white shoe polish on them to cover up the scorched spots. Looking back, I think that's one of the most endearing things my Daddy did for us. He didn't have to do that, but he loved us enough to do that little, simple thing for us. My Daddy told me he loved me one time that I can remember, in my whole life. Daddy just couldn't seem to bring himself to say the words, although he showed us in other ways that he loved us. Every day he went into that factory and worked on a hot press when the temperatures were upwards of 110 degrees, year-round, he was saying he loved us, even if we didn't know it then. Working 40-60 hour weeks to bring home less than $100 a paycheck, he was proving he loved us. My Daddy was one of a kind, and he could be an old coot, but he was OUR old coot, and we sure did love him.


Barb said...

Good morning, Miss Diane,

I love this series you're doing. It's like a wonderful trip back in time. If I recounted all the memories you've stirred up in me, this comment would be as long as your post.

But oh that tire swing. No one ever created a fancy schmancy swingset that was more fun than that old tire swing, especially if it happened to swing out over a creek. And yeah, the best part was twisting it as tight as you could and then letting it go. Fun, fun.

And I'd completely forgotten about mud puppies. I have to say your mama would have warmed my seat if she'd gotten wind of what I did to that poor old bull frog (the one I operated on)!

I've had those metal ice trays with the handles on my mind ever since I read part one of this series. Now you've crammed my head full of lots more memories.

Thank you for taking me back in time. Did we have a great childhood or what! xoxoxo

Big Mama said...

Diane, I love these stories from your childhood. You do such a great job of catching every moment perfectly. Thanks for sharing them with us!

Tammy said...

LMBO at the Hillbilly Pirhouette!!!
I always hated to get the breathe knocked out of myself!!!
But this sounded so funny!!!!!
Love your memories Diane!!

Dick said...

It is interesting how childhood memories, although different for different people, all seem to be so similar. You are bringing back wonderful memories for me, too. Thank you for creating such a fun read.

loretta said...

Oh, i so remember those morning standing by that old wood stove geting ready for school. Cold on one on the other. Daddy would get up early and get that old stove going, so we at least had one side warm. He never said "i love you" but, like your dad, he proved it.

Granny said...

I am enjoying this series so much even if I wasn't living there. Come to think of it though I was. My youngest is 33 and he was born in J'boro.

The girls like tire swings better than any of the fancy playground equipment but they've sure hard to find these days.

Sometimes I think that our lives today are almost too sanitized and cautious although I don't say that to just anybody.

Oops - I just did.

PEA said...

How I love reading about your childhood memories...I smile all through it:-) Gosh, do I remember making the swing go round and round and then letting it go...wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!! Like you, I had one break while I was on it and yup, the breath does get knocked out right outta you! lol I'd never heard of these ants...ugh, I'm not much into bugs and there was no way you'd see me touching one, let alone play with one!! However I used to love the miniature toads we had around camp and I would bring them by the box full into the camp...for some reason mom kept finding them all over the was I to know they could hop out of the box????

Sarah's In the Midst of It said...

Diane, what a sweet series you're doing! I love reading about other people's growing up days:)

And I meant to thank you earlier for your wonderful Sunday school class and the cards they sent little Miss Addison. We've kept them all for her keepsake box, and they just really touched our hearts. Thank you:)

Sue said...

My Grandpa who is 98 had a big tire swing that hung from a huge maple tree in the backyard. All the grands, greats and great greats remember swinging there.
Thanks for more of your marvelous memories! There're such fun to read...

Sister said...

I have so enjoyed reading about your childhood. Give us some more!

Naturegirl said...

I love what your mamma taught you about critters..salamander I have not seen the word or thought about them for years!!!!! Thank you for reminding me!!

Brenda said...

Where you grew up is a lot like where I spent many a weekend. My grandparents live on a farm, and most of my childhood memories involve playing in the dirt, warming ourselves by the stove, and piling up under layers of heavy quilts to keep warm on cold nights. You tell your stories a lot better than I can remember mine. Thank you for sharing!

p.s. I tagged you for a meme.

green eyed girl on planet earth said...


I love it love it love it !
I hope you continue with these stories , they are wonderful and I love the part of you flying on the end of the frayed rope ,God knew just where to pitch you !muck!!! that was for HOGGIN the swing haha
Bravo Diane as I said Ilove it your Squishy Friend

Connie and Rob said...

Dear Diane,
Your stories are so heartwarming. I love the tire swing. Being a city girl I always...wanted one. I did get to play on my cousin's.

Snuggling with your sister and then smelling your shoes burn is just so cute.

Nowadays kids have to have their own room and games and there is hardly any of those things any more to force interaction. I can't imagine what kind of stories they are going to have to pass down to their children.

Thanks for sharing,

Judith said...

Oh, Diane, Just read about your flying out of your tire swing. Oh my, oh my! How did we survive those childhood days! Thank you for sending some humor to an otherwise serious morning.

Addie said...

Diane, I just love these post you've been doing! So enjoyable to read! And the vision of you on that tire swing, is a hoot! :-)

Dawn said...

Well written memories! I have lots of memories, too, but haven't gotten around to putting them down here in cyberspace. We left Arkansas and moved to northernmost Minnesota. My sis and I shared an attic room. We thought it was awesome, because we called it our apartment. We had our own space for the first time in our lives, that we could get away from the noise of the 3 brothers! The problem was, there was no heat up there. Do you know what northern Minnesota is like in the winter? We had a kerosene stove up there until it exploded one day and ruined the few things we owned with soot. Dad then cut a square in the floor, directly over the gas heater that stood in the middle of the dining room. We raced each other to this small warm spot every morning - it was incentive to be the first one out of bed! We took turns dressing over the whole in the floor.

Mountain Mama said...

It's interesting that we grew up so far apart, in miles as well as years, but there are denfinte similarities in our lives.
I enjoyed reading part 2. Thanks for sharing your memories. It brought back some of my own.