Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Growing Up - Ages 3-6 - Part One

I will start by telling some of the things that happened in my life between ages three and six. I hung around the house most of the time but other times, especially as I got older, I found myself hanging around the barn doing chores. It was my job to feed the chickens every morning and to gather the egg every evening. It was a good job but sometimes I would collect so many eggs that I would have to put some in my pockets to carry them back to the house. A few times I forgot they were there or would miss emptying one of my pockets and would end up crushing them by accident. Now that made for a gooey mess because I might have some worms, a toad or frog, or some other critter I had found in the woods in the same pocket. During the day I would help mother in the house. She would let me try to cook and clean the house. When she worked out in the garden I would help her plant, work the soil, and harvest the vegetables. The job I disliked the most was picking the bugs off the potato plants. I would pick them off the plants and put them in a bucket. When I was finished, I would pour some kerosene on them and ignite the liquid with a match to burn them up. For a little boy that was a little mean to do to any creatures but I got use to it.

As time passed I got to go to the barn and feed the cows and carry the feed to the hogs. That was fun for a few days until I realized that it was my job to do it all the time. I would get up before daylight and go feed the animals. By the time I got back to the house, Mother would have breakfast which normally consisted of country ham, eggs, corn meal mush, and good ol’ hot biscuits. We always had fresh butter, homemade blackberry jelly, molasses, and jams of all sorts.

Time went very slowly for a little boy on the farm and it seemed that it was five years between one Christmas and the next. We never received much knowing that Santa just had a small sled and could not bring much. We always had the Christmas spirit and knew we were celebrating the birth of Jesus. Yes indeed, we all knew what Christmas was all about. Each December we would go out into the woods and cut down a pretty pine tree. We would bring it home and put it in the living room; back then we called it the fire room because we only had heat in one room. Our heating unit was an open fire place but it would not heat the entire house. I remember one night when I left the bucket full of water out in the hall over night, it froze over and we could not get the dipper out the next morning! I am sure I got into a lot of trouble over that because I still remember that I cried from the punishment. Listen to me tell this story.

There was one time I REALLY got cold. Since we were share cropping, we had to move from one farm to another for different reasons and we always moved in mid winter. We moved to the Oswalt Farm which was five miles west of Statesville, NC. We moved in wagons so we had to pack the dishes in something that would keep them from breaking during the rough ride. I remember that we would save the pea hulls and use them to protect the dishes. The house we were moving into had a big back porch and a rain barrel at the corner. As the dishes were unpacked, guess where the pea hulls ended up? In the rain barrel! I saw that big wooden barrel full of pea hulls and I just had to jump in. It only had about two inches of pea hulls floating on top and the rest of the barrel was filled with ice water due to wintry temperatures. I found myself up to my neck in three feet of ice water and just a couple of inches of pea hulls. My clothes were soaked and I nearly froze to death before I could get warm again! Listen as I tell this story.

That old house was two stories with the upper floor unfinished. I was told that it was haunted so I wanted to sleep in the fire room with mother. I was told that I was too old to sleep with her so I did the best I could sleeping with my brother Mark. He was two years older than me did not believe in ghost so that helped a little. At least I was able to sleep at nights.
That winter was the first time that I realized that we were having a hard time. We had an old pump that would freeze up so we could not get any water from it. We did not have much food but God took care of us. We discovered that the people that lived on the farm before us had to move away without plowing up the potato. They were still in the ground! We gathered them to eat throughout the winter along with what little other food we had.

In a creek about two miles behind our house on the Cook's Farm, all of my brothers with the help from boys from other farms around built a dam across that little creek. We made a pond that was about four feet deep and about fifteen feet across which was later called the Cook's Pond. The Cook's lived a couple miles behind us on the other side of the woods on Wooten Farm Road. I hate to say this but the whole bunch was so lazy that they did not do much farming. They were on what we called relief. The county would bring them a truck load of can goods. Sometime they would give us some and we would take the big tin cans and use them for drinking cups and also bowls for eating corn bread and milk, soup, and beans. I don't think we ever had a set of dishes that matched and made do with what we had. Mother would never let us eat any thing while we were at the Cook’s house because they were not very clean. In fact, I thought of them when I saw Ma and Pa Kettle on television which I thought was a story about the Cook's.

1 comment:

Mike said...

I am really enjoying your life's story, looking forward to more