Thursday, February 9, 2006

My Feet Are Cold But My Heart Is Warm

Yes, I know, it's cheesy, but for those of you who don't blog, YOU try coming up with stellar titles and posts day after Besides, it is feet are absolutely frozen. The thermostat is set on 70, but I may have to actually get up from in front of the puter and physically walk in the front room and turn my dainty, lily white hand to crankin' that sucker up, lol. Now for you city folks and priviledged country folks, I will now ramble on for a while about my childhood in rural Northeast Arkansas......No, I won't be offended at those of you who suddenly feel the need to go clean your attics or clean around the commode with a toothbrush, lol.

First of all, I was born in October 1963, so I am 42 years old, and I really did live like this growing up in the late 60's and through the 70's.We moved from Town (Trumann, Arkansas, population maybe 4500 at that time) to the Country ( 2 miles outside of Town), when I was 4 years old. We went from a shotgun house, (so called because they were built one room room behind the other, like a trailer, only with the doors on the short ends, and you could theoretically shoot a shotgun straight through; you could stand in the front door and look straight through the house out the back door) to a shack on a gravel road. I loved it. We had a storm house, a chicken coop and chickens, and a dog adopted us almost immediately. A little cypress one-holer came with the place. For the city folks, again, that was an outhouse, or toilet. The indoor facilities consisted of a pot, or slop jar as many people called them, for at night and inclement weather, and a bucket and communal dipper for drinking water, wash pan for obvious uses, and dish pans for dishes. We had a hand pump and a wringer washing machine and wash tubs. The wash tubs served as bathing facilities too, and I took a many a bath in the rinse water after washing and rinsing clothes. Said clothes were hung on clotheslines stretched between tame mulberry trees and a post or two. The water for the washing had to be hand pumped, a bucket at a time, for each load of clothes, and carried and dumped into the wringer washer and wash tubs. Not too long before this, Mom still washed for 7 or 8 people on a rub board. There were 5 of us girls, Mom and Dad and whoever happened to be visiting at the time. Can you imagine having to wash diapers and baby clothes by hand on a rub board? I thought it was bad enough to have to wash them in the machine in the back yard. In summer time it wasn't too bad, but in winter it was something else. Your hand would freeze to the pump handle, and you had to pour water over it to thaw it, and you had to drain the dirty water from the washer onto the ground with the rubber hose attached for that purpose so you could refill it for the next load. The hose was only 3 or 4 feet long, so you were always standing in water, winter or summer--Wheee, yee, lol. After the joy of washing, rinsing and then putting everything through the wringer on the washing machine (that's where the expression " put through the wringer" came from), you had the unequalled joy of hanging heavy, dripping wet clothes on a galvanized steel clothesline........Think about it.......It's below freezing, the wind is blowing a moderate gale, and you are already wet from all the pumping, pouring, rinsing, etc, and now you have wet, drippy clothes slapping you in the face as you attempt, with numb, frostbitten fingers to attach them to the clothesline with either peg or spring-type clothespins......Oh, the joy, the unspeakable Everybody should try it at least once or twice. A personal favorite is having your fingers freeze to the galvanized clothesline and leaving skin behind when you pull them loose, and also, the heavy, dripping, clean clothes breaking the clothesline.........All that work, wasted. It can make a person want to sob her heart out. We also were priviledged to live in a four room house there, with a 12x12 linoleum rug in each room. Sounds luxurious, huh? Only one problem---the rooms were 16x14..........So there was room all around the walls with no linoleum over them, just bare floor boards. That wouldn't be so bad, but you see, there were large cracks between the boards----I used to literally lay on the floor and watch the chickens scratching under the house. It was just a tad airish in the winter-time. In the summer-time we had the skeeters and flies coming in not only through the holey screens but also through said cracks the floor. I also loved it when the wind would blow up under the house and raise the rug up from the bottom. The only place the rug was flat was where furniture held it down. In the center of the rooms, when you walked across the floor, every step you took, your feet pushed the rug down because the wind was lifting it up from the bottom. For some reason, this fascinated me........Go figure. I didn't know at the time we were pretty much dirt poor--Daddy worked at the Singer sewing machine and furniture plant in Town, and Mama kept the house and us kids. It was just how it was--this was just comforting, everyday normalcy to me.

Now, I summoned up all those old memories to compare to current modern times. I have mentioned several times in the last few days that my bed is in desperate need of changing. I wanted to have a pretty day to hang out my handmade quilt that I use as a bedspread. I love the smell of clothes that have been dried on the clothesline. However, it is currently 37 frigid degrees, and the wind is blowing to the strength of the aforementioned moderate gale. I have come to the conclusion that for all the problems this modern age has accrued, I for one am most thankful for modern washers and dryers. In other words, I will settle for washing and drying my bedclothes in the house, thank you very much, because it is dang cold out there!! I am so grateful I don't HAVE to hang out wet clothes in Arctic weather unless I want to. I don't feel the urge to revisit the "good ol' days" in this case, I can assure you. I can speak with confidence on the matter, because I lived it----A lot of the things experienced in the "Good 'ol Days" ain't what they're cracked up to be. Memory seems to dull and fade some of those not-so-grand memories in favor of the happier moments. Just a natural process, I guess. And there were good, happy times. It takes all our past experiences to make us the sum total of what we are today, and sometimes it's FAMILY that is all that makes it bearable, or even vaguely enjoyable. Like I mentioned about going North---Those memories are a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there again. Does that make sense to anyone but me?

Jessica has to go to work at 4 today, and she always comes in hungry enough to eat a horse and chase the I am beginning to get a mite peckish, too. I will close for now and try to post again later, if the mood strikes me. Have no idea what's for supper, yet, hope inspiration strikes there, too.




Sister said...

I left a comment on BooMama's blog inviting others to come over here and read your post. Thank you so much for sharing your memories with us!
Have a great weekend...and let us know what you fixed for supper! :)

Diane@Diane's Place said...

I was lazy today. I waited so late to start supper today (I was posting on my blog and visiting boomama's blog to keep abreast on developing situations!!) that I just fixed some burger helper beef stroganoff, garden purple-hull peas from the freezer, turnip greens seasoned with bacon grease, salt and sugar, and canned biscuits. It was quick and filled us up, though. What's for supper at your house? I've got memories I haven't even begun to tap, yet. More as the muse prompts me. I'd like to hear yours and sisters', and also any of your friends who visit. Feel free to post on here, or I will visit boomama's blog often and check on the progress. Thanks for the kind words.


Sister said...

Hope your supper was good...mine consisted of peanuts/diet coke, as we were not at home last night. However, I just can't/don't whip up a fine meal like you and BooMama do! :)

At some point, when my page is ready, I'd love for you to read some of my (crazy) thoughts and life as I knew it growing up in the Deep South.

I have several commitments this weekend and will probably not be as active on the computer. I hope you have a restful and productive weekend!