Friday, August 24, 2007

The Good Old Days - You be the Judge

As a child, I remember spending the summers at my grandparent’s farm.

The first morning there, as I jumped from the feather bed, which seemed to be two foot thick, my feet would hit the cold floor, and out the door I would go. Being still only half awake, I would walk across the chicken yard to the outdoor privy and then back to the house where I would find the wash bowl, with water collected from the rain barrel which caught the water from the roof. I’d wash my face and hands before I entered the house for breakfast. Now came one of the best part of the day: breakfast.

My grandmother would awake about four o’clock and start preparing breakfast on her wood burning stove. We would sit around a large wooden table for twelve, pray, and then dig in. First there was Kellogg Corn Flakes, out of the biggest cereal box that you have ever seen, followed by eggs, biscuits and gravy, sausage, bacon, country ham and red eye gravy, fried potatoes and fresh milk from their cow, because there wasn’t a refrigerator, or electricity for that matter. After eating our fill, off to the work fields we went.

In the tobacco plot, we would hoe the weeds and pull the tobacco worms. My cousins always made me bite off the worms’ heads to kill them, because there weren’t pesticides then. Then, I had to break off the part of the plant that wasn’t wanted, called suckers. Then, on to the corn field where we did more hoeing. After that, if there was still daylight, all that was left to do was bale hay.

I can tell you that nothing is as itchy as leaves of hay on a sweaty body. In between some of this we would stop for dinner. There granny, as we called her, had prepares a feast of roast beef and potatoes, pork chops, fried chicken, and as many as six fresh vegetables from her garden. All the meat came from the smoke house where it had been hung since last fall. The chicken was fresh, usually hens that had stopped laying. The potatoes and onions came from the cellar, which was a room underground to keep them cool. They churned the butter, and my grandfather’s favorite part of the meal was buttermilk with cornbread crumbled in it. The flour and meal were ground with belts attached to the tractor. I never saw my grandparents buy anything at the store with the exception of salt, sugar and Kellogg Corn Flakes.

About one hour after dinner, back to the fields until dark. At night we would listen to the battery radio to shows such as the Shadow Knows, The Green Hornet and Roy Rogers. Then off to bed I would go, jumping back in that feather bed and sinking out of sight. The oil lamps were turned off and the pot belly stove in the middle of the room was stoked. The only day that wasn’t like this was Sunday, when we went to a one room church in Hancock County, Kentucky in a small town called Gatewood, where we spent most of the day.

You are probably asking yourself by now why is he telling us this.

Well, yesterday afternoon a storm came through Chicago knocking out the lights. My life became paralyzed. No computer, no TV, no stove, no news. Yes, the car would run but to where and for what? My son and I waited for my wife to get home, and when she did, we found a couple of small candles which we lit. Then, we ate cold cereal and sat back and stared at each other, with nothing to say. We then proceeded to spend a restless night in bed.

This life is so different than my grandparent’s life, because if they encountered a storm, they just went to the barn and worked on their equipment for the next day.

We sure handle things differently now, don’t we.

I just want to thank you for allowing me to journey back to those wonderful times, not having to think about making money, antiques or collectibles for a while. Now the lights are back on so I am sure that tomorrow I will have something more informative for you. Thanks again. Daryle

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