Saturday, May 30, 2015

This is Home, Part 48 - Jean's driving lesson

This is part 48 of my mother's book about her life, written in 2004. The end of the second paragraph refers to a trip back to Missouri that my mother took with my brother, in October of 1997. Charley, who appears several paragraphs further on, was an old farmhand who had been with them on the farm for a long time.

Jean's driving lesson

When Jean got old enough, Uncle Doc took her out in the car to teach her how to drive, just as he had taught me. They were gone quite awhile and Mom and I were wondering where they were.

Finally, we saw Jean walking over the rise in the same pasture we saw when we were back there, David.

Mom was saying, "I wonder what happened. Where is Uncle Doc? Why do you suppose she is walking and by herself?"

Uncle Doc didn't come, so we were really worried. When we asked her, she said that he was looking at the car down close to where the mailbox used to be. The car was in the ditch.

When Uncle Doc came back he said he was going to get someone to take him to Jacksonville so he could make arrangements to have the garage there tow the car in for repair.

He said Jean had driven through Darksville at sixty miles per hour looking the other way instead of at the road. She didn't listen to him.

The Darksville-Huntsville road was also graveled and gravel can slide.

One time when I was driving, I scared Charley to pieces. I was driving on the road to Jacksonville. Charley wanted me to slow down. The bridge that rumbled was coming up and it was only wide enough to accommodate one car at a time. Besides, there was a curve just past it. There were thick trees on each side of the road and any car coming toward us could not be seen before crossing the bridge.

I told him that I wasn't going too fast to stop and anyway there wasn't another car there. About that time another car came around the curve and onto the bridge. Charley yelled and leaned to the side.

I managed to stop just short of the bridge and a little toward the side of it. I slowed down after that and I always took the bridge slowly.

Country roads are made for one car at a time. If you meet another one, you both have to move toward the ditch on your side in order to pass each other.

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Saturday, April 18, 2015

This is Home, Part 47 - For sale

This is part 47 of my mother's book about her life, written in 2004.

For sale

Daddy and Uncle Doc were getting older and the big farm was so much work. Daddy was working as hard as a young man. In fact, Daddy always worked harder than anyone I've ever known. He finally told Mom that if Jean or I had been interested in a farmer, he would have kept it, but he couldn't keep working like he had been. It was listed for sale for a few years and not much happened.

Every once in awhile, a young man would try to buy it. He couldn't get financed for the amount of money Daddy wanted. They tried to get Daddy to carry back part or all of the loan. Daddy refused.

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Friday, March 20, 2015

This is Home, Part 46 - Uncle Doc and Daddy were sued

This is part 46 of my mother's book about her life, written in 2004.

Uncle Doc and Daddy were sued

I think I must have been pre-school when this happened.

It was summer, I think, when Uncle Doc came rushing in through the living room doors. He was saying, "I've got it. It is right in here." His voice didn't sound calm like it usually did. Either Uncle Doc or Daddy had been served with a subpoena to appear in court. They were both being sued over the farm.

The spouse of a relative who had died and the children of another relative who had died were suing for part of the farm. My grandfather S.P. Rice had left the farm to Daddy and Uncle Doc and money to all of the other children. They had spent the money and now wanted part of the farm. They intended to break the will.

Uncle Doc took the will out of his lockbox, which was on the mantel by the chimney.

Everyone went to court, but the will held. The relatives were not awarded anything.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

This is Home, Part 45 - Getting help

This is part 45 of my mother's book about her life, written in 2004.

Getting help

When I was in the first year of high school, Jean and I stayed in Huntsville.

I had a teacher that threatened us with a lot of consequences if we didn't know the divisions of land, such as the SW quarter of the north section, the NW quarter of the southeast section, and so forth.

I was worried about it. Not a single student in that class knew how to do it. I tried to figure out what to do and finally got up the nerve to call Walter Wright, the County Assessor, and ask if he would explain it to me. He was one of Uncle Doc's students.

He told me he had to work late that night and that he would have his secretary explain it to me if I wanted to come over at that time.

It was night already. Aunt Edith had made Katie go to bed and had gone to take care of some old lady. I don't know how I convinced Jean to stay by herself. The house creaked at night and the old lady Aunt Edith was taking care of in her house whispered her prayers for hours. Jean and I sneaked out a lot of times and went to the movies.

Anyway, when I got to the office, the secretary Frances Werntz was waiting for me. She was all dressed up, heels, hose, pretty dress, hair curled and makeup on. Including jewelry, if I remember right. She was slightly chubby but she looked fantastic.

She was very nice. She got out a county map and spent quite a bit of time explaining it to me. I understood it perfectly.

Next morning when we had the class the teacher asked if anyone knew how to do it. No one raised their hands, so I didn't have the nerve to either. Then with an expectant look on her face, she said, "Maudie?" I shook my head. She went ahead and explained it.

I have wondered, whenever I think of it, why she looked at me like that. I think I now have the answer. Small town women spend a lot of their time gossiping. Some of what they say is true, but most of it is not. They can take a grain of truth and enlarge it until it is unrecognizable.

Anyway, apparently someone had told her. This time it was true.

The next time I saw her was when I was working for James L. Stone, Real Estate. She was Mrs. James L. Stone. They had twins and she was expecting again.

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Saturday, January 10, 2015

This is Home, Part 44 - Daddy stands by a friend, Uncle Doc

This is part 44 of my mother's book about her life, written in 2004.

Daddy stands by a friend

Daddy was a Mason at one time. Mom told me about it.

Albert Hooper was nominated for membership and was rejected. Daddy quit because he was being loyal to Albert. He said something like if Albert wasn't good enough to be a Mason, then the Masons weren't good enough for him. I think Mom said that some of them tried to change his mind.

Uncle Doc

Uncle Doc belonged to the Masons. He received his 50 year pin when he was older. I read somewhere that he belonged to the Shriners, but I don't know anything about the truth of that.

He had a more active social life than Daddy. Of course, he was single.

He used to go up to Maudie and Irvin Williams' house at night sometimes and play cards with them and talk.

Every now and then, he would also stay a few days with Albert Hooper and Zack and talk. I had the impression that Albert's farm was pretty isolated.

I think he also went to see Roscoe and Dora Mae. Mom told me that one time Roscoe was about to lose his farm and everything. It must have been around the Depression. Anyway, he asked Uncle Doc for help. Roscoe must have given someone a note, because if his things had been mortgaged, it wouldn't have helped. Everything was transferred to Uncle Doc's name. Knowing Uncle Doc, he had a lawyer do it. He always wanted everything legal.

After Roscoe paid back his debt, Uncle Doc transferred everything back to him.

I used to have different men telling me that they had gone to school to Uncle Doc. They all laughed and said he made the same speech each year at the start of school. It was something on the order of this: "I'm going to be your teacher this year. We have a great deal of work ahead of us. I'm going to help you all I can. We are going to get along just fine and you are going to do what I tell you. If you don't, I'm going to whip you."

I asked him one time if he really said that and why.

He said that he did say it. He said in those days, parents kept their children home to help with the farming. He said there were 16-year-old boys still in grade school and they were much taller and heavier than he was. He wanted them to respect him and, I think, be a little afraid of him. He said after the speech he never had any trouble with them.

I think Roscoe was one of his pupils. I seem to remember that he talked about Uncle Doc's speech.

Uncle Doc had a more serious and quiet personality than Daddy did.

I don't know how I would have gotten through grade school without him. He helped me with my lessons. I really had trouble with my arithmetic, especially with questions like this: Jack left home at 9 a.m. and drove 50 miles at 35 miles per hour, stayed three hours, then drove back home at 45 miles per hour. What time was it when Jack got home?

I hated that kind of question.

Uncle Doc helped me memorize things I had to memorize, like poetry. He listened to my spelling. Night after night, he sat at the kitchen table and helped me.

One time he was in the hospital for a week or two. Each night Daddy put his reading glasses on and sat down in his rocking chair in the living room by the lamp on the sideboard that Sharon has and helped me.

When Uncle Doc finally got out of someone's car out front, thanked the man for bringing him and started walking towards the house, Daddy breathed a very audible sigh of relief. Then he closed the book and we all went to meet Uncle Doc when he came in.

There was snow on the ground and Uncle Doc had on his heavy overcoat.

Uncle Doc was still helping me in high school. One year -- senior year maybe -- I took bookkeeping. They had us adding long columns of figures in our heads. I couldn't get the same answer twice, so Uncle Doc added them in his head. He didn't have any trouble.

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Monday, December 01, 2014

National Novel Writing Month 2014 - Winner!

I was a winner for National Novel Writing Month 2014, meaning that I managed to write a novel of at least 50,000 words during the month (November). I completed it, at least the rough draft, on November 25, 2014, about 7:42 AM, and validated it at the website later that night, about 6:35 PM. The OpenOffice word processor, which I wrote it in, put the word count at 50,508, less than last year's and relatively low compared to most of the other years. The website put the word count at one more. The book for 2014 was a sequel of the 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009 ones. I joined National Novel Writing Month [ ] on March 20, 2009, as user Stephen_M_99.

The novels' word counts, mine and the website's, and the date the novel was finished:

2014: 50,508 and 50,509, November 25, 2014
2013: 51,043 and 51,042, November 29, 2013
2012: 50,147 and 50,147, November 20, 2012
2011: 60,973 and 60,977, November 21, 2011
2010: 53,076 and 53,077, November 26, 2010
2009: 52,110 and 52,111, November 28, 2009

Below are the winner web badge images for this year. The top two were large in their original form, especially the top one, which was actually a banner, and I was not intending to include them here for that reason, but they were much reduced in size when I was looking at the preview of this post, and opening them individually in another window still showed them reduced in size. It looks like they will be safe to include without disrupting the display of the blog, and so I'm going to include them. All I can know about is how they look on my computer, and I hope it looks the same on other people's computers and devices. If forced to choose one as a favorite, it would be the second one down, the largest one with the dragon. If space did not permit for that, I would choose one of the smaller ones.

My novel is science fiction, and though I did not put a synopsis or excerpt in the Novel Info section this time, here they are for this post:

The time traveler-in-training is still trapped in another dimension where reality is more pliable, and thoughts can sometimes become real, even hidden thoughts, and even good intentions can have unforeseen consequences. In this novel he runs into more adventures and tribulations, finding out more about himself in the process, and more about the world in which he is trapped.

More days and nights passed, he couldn't say how many. Most of the time he wasn't much sure of anything, except to keep going and the direction he must go. He went on in a daze. Dark forms of trees and animals blended together without meaning.

And then, suddenly, he was in the graveyard again, looking at his grave. Or rather the gravestone. There would be no body. It was day, but a very dark day, dark clouds low overhead, and a soft rain falling. He was alone.

He looked at his gravestone. This was how all lives end, whether with a gravestone or not, or a body or not. Sooner or later, death took them all.

"So you're back."

He turned around and saw the ghost, the one that had been chained to the treasure chest.

"I wondered where you had gone," the ghost said. "Been doing some exploring, checking out the different levels, or just haunting people? I could show you a few things, if you're into poltergeist activity."

"Um ..."

"Just don't play any tricks on your mother. She's been having a real hard time of it. If all those relatives hadn't come, I don't know what she'd do."


"Sure. She's got loads of them. Her mother and father, brothers and sisters and their children, and their children's children."

"But ... how?"

"Well, you know that you gave her the special fruit and so on when she was a little girl, and she took it back to her parents after eating some. And they saved some of the seeds and planted them, and grew their own plants. And her parents stopped aging, got younger even. When your mother grew up and left for the big city, her parents found that they didn't like living alone, so they had a bunch more children. And when they grew up and left, they took seeds from the plants with them, and so on. So now we've got a whole bunch of practically immortal people around. Of course the time travel people had to give them new identities at some point. They were getting too old, chronologically. It would have been too suspicious. You've met a lot of them, in their new identities. They talked more freely when you weren't around, and I was eventually able to piece it all together."

Jack was stunned. He had thought her parents were long dead, and didn't have any other children. "I need to go to her, talk to her."

"That's a pretty common reaction to death, wanting to talk to the living. Some manage, some don't. You don't look like you're in any shape to try it, though. If anything came through from you, it would be all garbled, which would just upset her more. It might be better to go in the other direction. Accept who you are, and what you are. Maybe try to just check out some of the more spiritual levels. Maybe go looking for the light, if it doesn't come looking for you first. I've been waiting for the light a long time, myself. Hundreds of years. At first there was some indication of it, but then it went away. Since then, nothing. I've been thinking of looking for it myself, lately. There's only so much you can do around here without a body, and that isn't much. Just be sure to stay away from the lower levels. A lot of dark things in there. Some of them can eat you alive."

The ghost started to drift away and fade. Jack lunged out for it. "Wait ..." He came up hard against a tree, and tumbled to the ground, rolling in the dirt and leaves. He lay there for a while, in his pain and weariness. He could feel eyes looking at him from the darkness, waiting. After a while he got up, and continued on.

The previous years' novels:

National Novel Writing Month 2013 - Winner!
National Novel Writing Month 2012 - Winner!
National Novel Writing Month 2011 - Winner!
National Novel Writing Month 2010 - Winner!
National Novel Writing Month 2009 - Winner!

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Saturday, November 08, 2014

This is Home, Part 43 - Psychic ability

This is part 43 of my mother's book about her life, written in 2004.

Psychic ability

Some members of Mom's family have had psychic ability to one extent or another. It doesn't work on everything.

Mom, herself, was psychic. She and Aunt Gertrude had made a pact when younger and unmarried that whichever one died first would try to come back to tell the other if there was a Heaven and the things they believed were true. A few months after Aunt Gertie died, this happened.

One morning, Mom was standing in front of the dresser with the partly marble top that belongs to Stephen now. She said she was combing her hair and thinking about what she was going to fix for breakfast when Aunt Gertie appeared, behind her in the mirror. Aunt Gertie was smiling.

Mom said she was so shocked, she just stood there and stared at her. When she finally turned around, Aunt Gertie was gone.

Aunt Gertie died in Colorado from pneumonia, when I was a new baby.

Mom's sister Edith also had psychic ability. She could make a table move. Daddy and Uncle Doc asked her to come one time when a horse had got wrapped in a barbed wire fence. He was cut and bleeding a lot while still fighting to get away. Aunt Edith placed her hands on the horse and the bleeding stopped. He let himself be cut out of the fence.

Other members of the family with psychic ability that I know of so far are Jean, Stephen, David and me. But that came much later than the sale of the farm.

These psychic incidents are only for family. Mom used to say, "Don't tell anyone that." So, I'm trusting you not to tell.

There is another incident. When Uncle Elliott died on the way home, no one could find him. It sounded to me as though he had been missing for days, maybe a week. Finally, in desperation, a psychic in Macon was consulted. She described where he had fallen. Thanks to her, they found him. Mom didn't want this repeated, either.

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Saturday, October 04, 2014

This is Home, Part 42 - Edgar, Edgar and the flat, marriage and Edgar

This is part 42 of my mother's book about her life, written in 2004. The "Charley" referred to in the beginning was Charles, a young man who was also dating my mother (and later married her). The Charley several paragraphs down was the old farmhand.


When Edgar came home after Korea, he was really thin. He said the flour had bugs in it and he couldn't eat it. He was ordering milk, instead of Coke like he usually did. I remember sitting with him in a tiny eating place in Huntsville while the jukebox kept playing "Charley, My Boy" over and over. He said, "I just can't seem to get rid of that guy."

Another time when we had a date, there was ice and snow on the roads. It was afternoon when he came. He parked in the road by the mailbox so he wouldn't block the wagon road along the end of the front yard.

He reached out his hand to help me walk and get into the car when we got there. But, no, not me, I acted like an idiot and instead of letting him help me, I pulled away, then started walking down the embankment. My shoes shot out from under me and I slid down the embankment and part way under his car.

He rushed over, trying to keep from laughing (and not doing a very good job of it) and said, "Are you all right?"

This time I was happy for him to help me. I should have let him hold my hand like he usually did.

Edgar and the flat

Another time we sat in the car and talked until it was quite late. Finally, he kissed me goodnight at the porch door and left.

The next morning, Daddy, Uncle Doc and Charley came back laughing from feeding the cattle, and said they had seen Edgar since I had. He had a flat tire down where the mailbox used to be. He couldn't get the jack to work and he didn't want to wake anyone up because it was so late. So he had just stayed in his car.

They helped him change his tire.

Marriage and Edgar

Once, Edgar and I were talking about what we were going to do after we were married. I told him that I didn't want to move away from Mom, Daddy and Uncle Doc. I said they were getting old.

Edgar looked worried and said he didn't want to leave his folks. He said they were getting old, too, and they would need someone.

We decided to stay there and live close to everyone so we could help them.

Edgar got along with everyone, including Jean. He treated her like a little sister. He was a genuinely nice person. We didn't argue and our ideas were pretty close together. We had the same sense of humor.

I became good friends with his sister, Louise. We wrote to each other for years. He had two sisters and two brothers. I don't know if Louise or Howard was the oldest. Mildred was a few years older than Edgar. James was younger.

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

This is Home, Part 41 - Darksville Church, Easter Service

This is part 41 of my mother's book about her life, written in 2004.

Darksville Church

The name of the Darksville Church was Mount Shiloh Baptist Church. It was a missionary church and sent people overseas to preach.

Jean and I were going fairly regularly. Mom, too. Mom was a Methodist. There was a small Methodist church on the way to Jacksonville. Rev. Haney had services there sometimes during the summer months. I liked him because he didn't yell; he just talked.

Anyway, Jean joined the Darksville Church. When she went forward to acknowledge her belief in Jesus as the Son of God and that she wanted to be saved, they kept playing "Just As I Am" and waiting for me to go forward. I wasn't about to do that. Afterwards, several people told me they were praying for me.

Jean was baptized in Lee Webster's father's pond. I would never have done that -- for one thing I am afraid of bodies of water. I did not trust the minister not to drop me and I can't swim. Another thing, most of the skirts that I wore were wool -- they would have fit a doll after getting wet. None of them were washable.

Every time I went after that, they played "Just As I Am," over and over. Not only did everyone watch me, the people in our row moved back so I could get out easy.

I stubbornly stood there and did nothing. I don't like being pushed. Besides, I thought it had to be my feeling that made me go forward. How could I be "saved" if they pushed me into it? I stopped going after a few times of this.

I talked to Rev. Haney years later. He asked what I believed and I told him that I believed that Jesus was the Son of God who had come in order for people who believed in Him to be able to go to Heaven after they died. He said it is belief in Jesus as the Savior, the Son of God, that saves people -- not the church. He told me I was saved.

He also said I should be baptized and join a church so it would serve as a witness to others that I did believe. However, he said the church wasn't absolutely necessary. He was a Methodist.

Easter Service

Jean and I decided to go to church one Easter morning. I must have been in college at that time, because I was driving. The roads were very muddy and the East Fork may have been out, because we decided to take the road past Roscoe's, which would bring us farther north of Darksville than usual.

Anyway, there was a little church with a graveyard behind it just beyond Roscoe's. There must have been infrequent services at the church, because no one was there.

Just a little way past the church, I managed to get the car stuck with the front wheels in a muddy hole. I tried to make it jump out of it but it wasn't working.

Jean and I were all dressed up in new jackets, new Easter hats, new shoes and hose.

People always wore hats, dressy dresses, high heels and hose to church back then. If they wore coats or jackets, they also wore gloves. Our age group only wore hats on special occasions. I usually wore skirts and blouses. Sometimes I wore dresses when I had a date with Edgar.

I finally gave up with the car when it wasn't doing anything. I looked at my high heels and looked at the mud.

I don't actually remember walking in the mud, so maybe Roscoe rescued us.

Uncle Doc had to have a new clutch put in the car. I had burned it out.

I learned later that something such as parts of brush (twigs and sticks, etc.) need to be placed in front of the wheels to give them traction.

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

This is Home, Part 40 - Dead Man's Hollow, fishing in the creek, bread on the water

This is part 40 of my mother's book about her life, written in 2004.

Dead Man's Hollow

There was a friend or relative visiting Daddy and Uncle Doc one night. All four men were sitting around the kitchen stove talking and laughing. They were talking about things that had happened a long time ago.

Some of the stories were ghost ones -- at least scary ones. Mom wanted me to go to bed so I wouldn't have bad dreams. Of course, I didn't. It was interesting.

They mentioned Dead Man's Hollow and that it was called that because a dead man had been found there. I found out that it was at the back of our woods, beside Irvin's property. The man was a stranger.

Fishing in the creek

There was a creek that crossed the road a short distance past the hay field with the snakes. There was an old-fashioned bridge made of heavy boards that were bolted down. The boards weren't tight and they rumbled as the bridge was driven over. It had decorative iron sides. There was a little shack setting on the right side just past the bridge. The road turned sharply left right after the bridge.

Uncle Doc used to go fishing there and he got really large fish sometimes. The coal company had bought quite a bit of land toward Jacksonville, but they hadn't come near the road.

They were stripping the land for coal. Someone found out the creek would no longer be good for fishing, as the sulfur would kill them. So, the whole neighborhood turned out to catch fish one night. There were people all over the banks.

I don't remember if or how many fish they caught. All I remember is that Jean, Mom, and I were being eaten alive by mosquitoes. There were a lot of trees around, so the ground was probably damp. And, of course, there was the creek. Everyone was slapping at the mosquitoes, except Uncle Doc. They didn't bite him. Mom said it was probably because of the medicine he was taking.

Mom, Daddy, Jean and I started walking toward home. Jean was too little to walk. Daddy tried to carry her, but she only wanted Mom. So, we walked home through the pastures. I held Daddy's hand all the way and walked. It was one of Missouri's beautiful moonlight nights.

The fish did all die in the creek.

Bread on the water

I used to help Uncle Doc feed the fish bread in our pond by the garden with the apple tree. He kept pointing out how big some of them were getting and what good eating they would make. However, he never tried to catch them, even though they got quite large. He just fed them.

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

This is Home, Part 39 - Upstairs

This is part 39 of my mother's book about her life, written in 2004.


I loved the upstairs of the house. It had double windows on the side like the kitchen and double dormer windows with a wonderful view out front.

It had three old trunks up there. I have one that is a captain's trunk. They were filled with clothes belonging to Grandma Rice and Aunt Joann. There was a beautiful evening cape that I think was Grandma Rice's. She had a lot of nice clothes. Mom said the black ones were for wearing out and the gray ones were for wearing at home. There were black shoes in there. Very narrow ones with high heels. They fastened up about halfway to the knee, probably. They fastened with hooks that the shoe strings went around.

We also found handkerchiefs and fans. Very delicate fans -- some of them with painting on them.

We also found old pictures of the Rice family and some letters.

One other thing I really loved upstairs were the two grandfather clocks. Especially the larger one. I used to open the door and get inside when I was small. I also used to make them chime.

When fall came, Uncle Doc always put a lot of newspapers on the floor by the chimney and put pears on them. He really liked pears, but I didn't. They were not smooth like peaches or apricots.

Another thing I loved upstairs was the rain on the roof and the wind whistling around the eaves. The wind sounded almost like it had voices in it sometimes.

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

This is Home, Part 38 - Hickory school and Uncle Doc's hand, Uncle Doc, Assessor

This is part 38 of my mother's book about her life, written in 2004.

Hickory school and Uncle Doc's hand

I don't know if I mentioned this before, but Uncle Doc drove us to Hickory School each day. He picked up any children that were walking and also gave them a ride back.

He came and played with the students for a short time after school sometimes. I don't remember what we were playing, but we had to choose people for each side. Everyone called him Uncle Doc and wanted him on their side.

One time when he was getting ready to go home, he was taking the Hill children in the car with us and he said, "Now, be careful, I'm going to close the door. Keep your hands out of the way." He was leaning over and looking in with his hand on the door opening. Then he closed the door on his thumb.

His thumb was cut along the middle lengthwise. It was broken and bleeding a lot,

The teacher -- I think it was Miss Hazel -- wrapped his thumb in his red or blue handkerchief that he wore around his neck when he worked in the field, and drove really fast to Jacksonville to a doctor.

He always had a deep line where it was cut and the nail had a caved-in line after that. His thumb was thinner, also.

When the weather was bad, Charley took us to school and picked us up in the buggy. Mom used to come running out with hot wrapped bricks that she put under our feet.

When it had snowed and we went to school, I always admired the outside of the turn to go down the hill below the barn. Snow always drifted there and it looked like layers of whipped cream.

Mom used to make extremely good chocolate pudding with real whipped cream and send it in our lunch. The whipped cream had layers and tasted cool and faintly sweet. Her chocolate pudding was really good. So is Sharon's chocolate pie.

I remember a spring day when it was too muddy to drive and Uncle Doc came walking after me. He couldn't take the jolting from riding a horse.

Anyway, this particular day was nice except for the mud. Walking was fun and different. When we almost reached the road going to the house, we went through the large gate into the pasture and walked through there. Just about where the large gate was when we were there, David. However, the fence used to run along the side of the road. It was straight.

When we got home, Mom, Daddy and Charley were working in the garden behind the barn. Uncle Doc went back to helping. Someone had made a raised bed for onions to be set out. They had rows dug in the garden and they were dropping seed in them and covering it. It was interesting and fun. This was the garden where sage grew along the fence every year.

Uncle Doc nagged the county until they finally put gravel on the road to our mailbox. From the mailbox on through the neighborhood we had dirt roads.

In the spring, cars made deep ruts in the road due to trying to drive in mud. At other times of the year, also. When it dried out, if something wasn't done, cars would follow the deep ruts and scrape on the underneath side of the car.

Daddy, Uncle Doc and Charley made a drag with very thick, heavy, rough boards. They bolted them together in a rectangular shape with the same type of boards on the top. Then they put a huge rock or two on it and Daddy or Charley dragged the roads themselves with the horses. The graveled roads and up past our house.

Uncle Doc, Assessor

When Uncle Doc taught school, he had a pupil who later became the Randolph County Assessor for years. His name was Walter Wright. His secretary was Frances, who became my boss' wife. They had three children when I worked for James Stone -- real estate office. A couple of the children were twins and really fast at snatching things off the desks when Frances brought them to the office.

Anyway, Walter Wright contacted Uncle Doc and asked him if he would assess some farm property for him. Uncle Doc did this every year for maybe four or five years, maybe longer.

Farm families are different. If you are there at mealtime, they expect you to eat. Uncle Doc wound up eating with a lot of different people. Sometimes, he took lunch with him if he didn't know the people.

I think he enjoyed the work, although sometimes he looked pretty tired when he got home. He worked at this job for maybe a couple of months each year. Maybe three. I'm guessing. I remember him being gone in the summer and early fall.

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Saturday, May 31, 2014

This is Home, Part 37 - Elliott, Grandpa and Aunt Edith, Grandpa and the Salesman, Aunt Edith

This is part 37 of my mother's book about her life, written in 2004.


Mary Ellen, Bea and Katie's father died when Katie was little more than a baby. He walked to Huntsville to get a haircut and he didn't return home. A sheriff's posse tried to find him, Daddy and Uncle Doc looked for him and some organization like the Boy Scouts tried to find him. The neighbors also looked for him.

This was Elliott. Finally, he was found on ground that had been covered several times. He was lying under a bush beside a stream. There were candy bars in his pockets for his children. He had had a heart attack.

Daddy and Uncle Doc were the only members left of a large family.

Grandpa and Aunt Edith

Grandpa moved in with Aunt Edith to help her with the children and the farm. Finally, the farm was sold and Aunt Edith and the children moved to Huntsville. She started taking care of elderly ladies in her two-story home.

Grandpa and the Salesman

Grandpa came to stay with us awhile to visit.

There was a route through our area similar to the Fuller Brush Co. I usually know the name of the company, but it escapes me now.

Anyway, the salesman was a man probably in his middle thirties. He had polio when he was younger and walked with heavy metal braces on his legs and black dress boots. I think he may also have used a metal cane.

The man sold vanilla and spices, aluminum cookware, and other home products. He cooked a single layer cake on top of the stove to show Mom how easy it was in his cooking pan. She didn't buy them, but she always bought several things from him.

Grandpa and the salesman talked when he came out. Grandpa found out he was single and lived with his mother in Cairo. Also, they had a room they wanted to rent. Grandpa decided to rent it. He told Mom he would like to be close to everything, like the barbershop, and that he would run into a lot of people to talk to there. He said he would enjoy walking around the village. He said Cairo had just about anything he would need, although it was a small place.

Mom was trying to get him to stay with us, but he liked to be independent.

Aunt Edith

Aunt Edith said she would never marry and bring someone in to boss her children. She stayed single until the children were grown and married.

She bought or leased a three-story building (very large) in Huntsville and had a nursing home. I wonder if it was originally a nursing home. This was probably while I was in college. I don't know.

I admire her for making it on her own and taking good care of her children.

Later, Bea worked in the nursing home sometimes and so did Mary Ellen.

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Monday, April 28, 2014

This is Home, Part 36 - Uncle Doc's stroke

This is part 36 of my mother's book about her life, written in 2004.

Uncle Doc's stroke

There was an older, little tiny woman who chased Uncle Doc relentlessly during the spring and summer of one year when I was around high school age. She had on spike heels, a flowery summery hat and a suit. She kept finding him when he went to town. He tried to escape.

Then, during the same summer, Uncle Doc had a stroke that paralyzed one side of him. The doctor (an MD I hated) kept coming out to see him, but he said there were other blood clots and a major one that would kill him. He didn't tell us -- he told Aunt Edith. When I told Mom what the doctor had said, she said "No, Uncle Doc is going to get well," with a lot of conviction in her voice. I believed her.

The leather couch in the living room had been made into a bed so Uncle Doc would be close -- and warm when winter came.

In the fall, the little woman chasing him came out to see him. I told Uncle Doc she was getting out of the car, and he promptly closed his eyes and pretended to be asleep. She sat by him for a long time, but he just kept sleeping. She was determined to wait until he woke up, but she finally left, after a woman came back with the car and convinced her that they had to go before dark. As soon as she left, Uncle Doc opened his eyes again. I thought it was funny.

Uncle Doc kept fighting and by spring he could sit outside and enjoy the sun for awhile. Daddy and Charley carried him out and back. It wasn't very long after that, he was walking with a cane. Soon he was walking without it.

He recovered to do all the things he used to do. He drove a car until his 90th birthday, when he didn't renew his license.

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Sunday, March 30, 2014

This is Home, Part 35 - Rabies, chute and scales, corn sheller

This is part 35 of my mother's book about her life, written in 2004.


Daddy, Uncle Doc and Charley were helping a neighbor (Irwin Williams?) with his hogs one time, and a hog grabbed Daddy's thumb and chewed it. The hog tested positive for rabies. Everybody who handled them had to have a series of shots into their stomachs. The men at home lost weight and looked terrible. The shots were very hard on a person.

Chute and scales

Daddy and Uncle Doc had a built-in flat weight scale for animals and a loading chute in the barn lot. The neighbors drove the animals to our house when they sold them sometimes, since they didn't have the scales or chute.

Animals are bought at so much per pound after a visual check to determine age and health.

Corn sheller

Another thing that I liked was a corn sheller in the big barn. I used to watch Uncle Doc put ears of corn in it. Then he turned a handle. The corn poured into a bucket.

There was a room in the barn past the stalls and just off the manger. The room was lined with non-rusting metal to keep the mice away. It was quite a bit lower than the manger and pretty much filled with shelled corn. I played in it as though it was sand.

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Saturday, February 22, 2014

This is Home, Part 34 - Mom's 500 chickens, Katie Jane, Mary Ellen and the rooster

This is part 34 of my mother's book about her life, written in 2004.

Mom's 500 chickens

Mom not only raised chickens to use the eggs or have as food. She wanted spending money of her own -- that she had made. She had a checkbook or checkbooks that she could use for anything she wanted and no one ever objected to any money she spent, but this was different.

We used to have a couple of large crates made of thin light wood with wood through the center to form two divisions. Each division had a bunch of square gray division papers with egg depressions. The paper was similar in thickness and color to gray egg boxes we buy at grocery stores today. The crates were kept in the cellar and filled with eggs as they became available.

When both crates were full, Uncle Doc drove us to Stampers Feed in Moberly. Stampers candled the eggs, which was a very interesting process. They held each egg in front of a light to be sure it was good and didn't have a baby chicken in it. I'm assuming they candled each one. I watched a lady do a few, while Mom was getting paid.

Mom also sold extra roosters.

Katie Jane

Katie Jane didn't come to our house to stay, because she had a bad heart and nose bleeds that were so severe that a doctor had to be called.

Mary Ellen and the rooster

Mary Ellen didn't come to visit much that I remember. She came with Bea when they were children.

When Mary Ellen came later, she always helped Mom. I remember her ironing. She didn't do what I thought of as fun things like Bea did.

One time when she came, she was going to kill a rooster and fix fried chicken. She didn't know how to kill it. She twisted the chicken's neck. It not only didn't die, its eye kept looking at her. Mary Ellen jerked her hands away and the rooster walked off shaking his head.

Mom killed a different rooster. Mary Ellen helped fix it.

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Sunday, January 12, 2014

This is Home, Part 33 - Learning to drive

This is part 33 of my mother's book about her life, written in 2004.

Learning to drive

When I was sixteen, Uncle Doc wrote to Jefferson City and got a driver's license for me. I didn't learn to drive until I was eighteen or nineteen. Girls didn't have cars in those days. They borrowed the family car. So did boys until they could earn enough money to buy one.

Uncle Doc taught me how to drive. I remember one time he said, "Where are you looking, Maudie?" I told him I was looking right in front of the car. He said no, look ahead so you will know what the road is like and what is happening there. He told me to look straight down the middle of my side.

Of course, he also laughed when I was trying to drive up a steep hill in Huntsville. It had a stop sign part way up and after I stopped, I couldn't get the car to go forward. When I tried to go forward, it slid back. So I put one foot on the brake. Then when I pushed on the gas, the car just roared and didn't move. I still wouldn't be able to get that car up that hill.

The car had a clutch, a brake, a starter, and a gas pedal. The gear shift was on the steering wheel. I just feel like shuddering when I think of it. Uncle Doc had to drive up the hill, and he didn't have a problem.

Another time, when we drove by a telephone repairman climbing a pole, Uncle Doc laughed and said, "Look, Maudie, he saw you coming."

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This is Home, Part 32 - Jack Frost, autumn, setting up the stove

This is part 32 of my mother's book about her life, written in 2004.

Jack Frost

Something I keep forgetting to mention. When the house was warm and moist inside like the kitchen was, and it was very cold outside, water condensed on the glass -- a lot of it -- and froze at night. Then in the morning, it looked like a picture of beautiful leafy trees and woodland paths and fences.

I have no idea how it was every time transformed into a picture. Uncle Doc used to tell me every morning to come and see what "old Jack Frost has painted." It was always amazing to me to find this picture.


Everything changes in the country, or did at that time, when the seasons change. When it becomes fall, the wild geese fly South. One hears the noise -- the honking noises -- and looks up to see a V formation of geese flying overhead. I looked them up and the book said they are in a club formation with a leader out front. There are geese inside what I think of as a V. The birds leave, too.

The nuts fall off the trees and Mom used to take us and we would all gather them. There was usually a squirrel there gathering nuts, too. We left him some. That tree had hickory nuts. I missed it when lightning struck it and it burned down except for a tall, blackened stump.

We had trees with walnuts, too.

Setting up the stove

Also, in the fall, the stove in the living room had to be brought back in and put up. The metal square was put on the rug. The stove was carried back in and placed on it. The yellowish plate with the flowers painted on it was removed from the wall where the stove pipe would go in. The pipe was joined with one end in the wall and one end in the stove. It was time to build the fire.

The door from the living room to the porch was closed and locked. The old fashioned door had a rectangular metal plate on each side, with a metal part extending above it on the inside that could be pushed forward to lock the door and backwards to unlock it. Of course, the knob was there, also, and a key hole. I don't remember if all of them had a key hole. The key hole was in the metal plate, not the knob.

The couch used to be moved back against the door, but after we got the Aladdin lamp it was put in a different place so Uncle Doc could get the lamp out.

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Sunday, December 01, 2013

National Novel Writing Month 2013 - Winner!

I was a winner for National Novel Writing Month 2013, meaning that I managed to write a novel of at least 50,000 words during the month (November). I completed it, at least the rough draft, on November 29, 2013, about 6:55 PM, and validated it at the website later that night, about 10:30 PM. The Open Office word processor, which I wrote it in, put the word count at 51,043, more than last year's, but still relatively low compared to the other years. The website put the word count at one less. The book for 2013 was a sequel of the 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009 ones. I joined National Novel Writing Month [ ] on March 20, 2009, as user Stephen_M_99.

The novels' word counts, mine and the website's, and the date the novel was finished:

2013: 51,043 and 51,042, November 29, 2013
2012: 50,147 and 50,147, November 20, 2012
2011: 60,973 and 60,977, November 21, 2011
2010: 53,076 and 53,077, November 26, 2010
2009: 52,110 and 52,111, November 28, 2009

Below are the smaller winner web badge images for this year. There were two others, but they were large banners. Though the display on my computer showed them shrunk to fit when doing a preview of this post, I couldn't be sure that all browsers would do that, and thought it would be safer to leave them off. If forced to make a choice, I would probably choose one of those large banner ones, if enough space existed for them. If forced to choose from the ones below, I would probably chose either the top one or the long bottom one.

My novel is science fiction, and though I did not put a synopsis or excerpt in the Novel Info section this time, here they are for this post:

The time traveler-in-training is still trapped in another dimension where reality is more pliable, and thoughts can sometimes become real, even hidden thoughts, and even good intentions can have unforeseen consequences. In this novel he runs into more adventures and tribulations, finding out more about himself in the process, and more about the world in which he is trapped.

As night was approaching, they got to the next shelter. She slowed the car down, and instead of trying to back in went in forward, the headlights on bright. They saw in the area of the door five of those creatures, or perhaps it would be better to say five creatures that looked like each other, but it would be hard to say whether they looked like the one before, since they hadn't gotten a good view of that one. The ones here narrowed their eyes and blinked, raising their arms to try to block the light some. It was difficult to say exactly what they were. They looked somewhat like skinny man-size monkeys, but also had some wolfish features, and even looked somewhat demonic. They were covered with short dark hair, and had almost hand-like front paws, which had claws on them.

She stopped the car, staring at them. "I guess we can't get to this one, either." She started to put the car into reverse, but Jack stopped her.

"What if they're all like this? We might have to keep on driving indefinitely, never able to stop at any of them."

"What should we do then? Surely you're not suggesting that we get out and fight them?"

"Try honking the horn at them."

"Where's that?"

He paused. He hadn't had to use the horn before. He assumed that it had one, but that was just an assumption. He could be wrong. This was, after all, an alien car. "It should be somewhere on or around the steering wheel," he said lamely.

"There are some concentric circles on the hub area, but they don't look anything like horn symbols."

"Try pushing on that." He remembered seeing them, now that she mentioned it, but hadn't really paid much attention to them. He guessed he'd thought they were something like a manufacturer's logo.

She pushed, and a loud blast went out. They weren't isolated from it either, since the car had no doors. He hoped it was pointed more toward the front, so it was louder to those there. It was plenty loud enough in the car.

The creatures jumped and milled around, and made whining and chittering and growling noises, but didn't leave.

"What now?" she asked.

"I guess now we fight them."

"Not really."

"If we want to get into a shelter, we may not have a choice."

"But they're wild animals! They're as big as we are, and there are five of them!"

He turned around to rummage in the back, and after a bit resumed his former position, but this time holding the sword and a shield. "You stay in the car and honk the horn. I'll get out and wave the sword around and yell. Maybe we can scare them off."

"I don't think this is a good idea, Jack. It'll be five to one out there, and if they decide to come after you, they can get around you and there won't be much you can do. I can try to drive at them with the car, but I don't have room to get up much speed, and I'd have to actually run over them to do much damage. In the meantime they can be trying to get in at me through the doorways, and I wouldn't be able to do much to stop them."

Jack realized that all she said was true. Still, what choice did they have? "They look pretty skinny, and not too intelligent. If we can really scare them, really intimidate them, I should be able to fight them. And after one or two are killed, that should scare them off. Or at least give them a lot more caution."

"Jack, please, don't do this. The shelters don't matter, they're nice to have of course, but we're more important than they are. We don't have to do this, we've got plenty of food, enough for several days, or a week even, if we have to. Don't do it Jack. I don't want to lose you. Think of the baby, if you won't think of yourself, and if you won't think of me."

Jack paused. He turned to look at her, and saw tears running down her face. He started to say something, but she interrupted.

"You don't understand, Jack. After the motel, sure, you could have taken them all, with no problem, killed them all with one swing of the sword even, even just sent the sword out with your mind to do it. But not now. Look at you! You were struggling under the weight of them, when you dragged them from the back. You can hardly even lift them, much less fight with them! They'll tear you apart."

Jack looked down, then turned back toward the front, staring out at the creatures. They weren't milling around as much, though they still seemed bothered by the headlights. "I can do it," he said somewhat stiffly, trying to give himself confidence at the same time. "If I go out there appearing confident, that will make them believe I can do it, and belief counts for a lot." It sure did here, anyway. And did a lot in the normal world he had come from, even if it couldn't normally be used there to suddenly change the fabric of reality.

"Jack, please...."

"It will be alright. Don't worry. When I get out, start honking the horn. A lot." He paused, and took a breath, and tried to summon whatever strength he could, whatever resources he could still muster. He got out of the car, the weight of the sword and the shield pulling him down. The point of the sword dragged along the gravel. The sound of the horn was loud in his ears, but not quite enough to hide the pounding of his heart.

He took a deep breath, then another, and then swung the sword high above his head, the weight of it unbalancing him some, so that he staggered backward a bit, but then he caught himself and charged at them, roaring and waving the sword.

They shrank back from him, but the rock outcropping of the shelter was behind them, blocking them. They scattered, going in different directions. They didn't go far, though, getting out around him in a big circle. They were about ten feet or so from him, circling, slowly making their way closer. He swung his sword and yelled at them. They watched him and the sword, their eyes narrowed. This was a game they knew how to play, he felt. A game they had played many times. A game they knew the ending to.

He swung the sword and yelled some more, and the horn was blowing insistently. Still, they made their way closer. His arms ached, and he was sweating despite the coolness of the weather. The sword was feeling slippery in his grip.

Suddenly, one was coming at him from the right.

The previous years' novels:

National Novel Writing Month 2012 - Winner!
National Novel Writing Month 2011 - Winner!
National Novel Writing Month 2010 - Winner!
National Novel Writing Month 2009 - Winner!

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Saturday, November 02, 2013

This is Home, Part 31 - Missouri Hen House

This is part 31 of my mother's book about her life, written in 2004.

Missouri Hen House

A Missouri Hen House (the plan's name) was built sometime when we were in grade school. It was two story. I don't remember what the first story was like.

Upstairs over under the roof on two sides of the building was no floor, just chicken wire. There may have been wood under the nests. All I saw was straw on wire which slanted and had a sort of wire depression near the front where I stood. The hen would lay an egg and, when she moved, the egg would roll gently into the wire depression or trough.

Sometimes, the hen doesn't like it when one takes the egg away and tries to peck. This solved that problem.

The hen house was large enough to be a barn. It had a lot of nests.

It was built past the brooder house, near the fence with the woods and swing on the other side.

The hen house had a door that opened out from the upstairs. Nothing was under it. It was like the barn, but the door there is used to put bales of hay in the barn. This one was probably for straw.

Most of the hens were happy with the new hen house. Some of the older ones insisted on staying in the two old hen houses past the wash house.

I remember when Uncle Doc couldn't get one out of the yard -- it had sneaked in -- so he put corn in the back yard on the snow for it. We were looking out the window and saw a rabbit hop up to the corn and start eating it.

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This is Home, Part 30 - Lamps, the Black Forest clock

This is part 30 of my mother's book about her life, written in 2004.


Mom had a lot of beautiful lamps. One was pale pink, with embossed roses. It was glass, tall and graceful with a tall, slender chimney. She had one with brass, antique-looking feet and painted roses, and another that had gold trim and an old-fashioned picture on the side. That one was red. There was also a similar one that was pale blue. There were three plain glass ones with glass chimneys. One with a red base and a black Scotty. I loved that one. She brought them with her when she came out here.

The interesting one was the Aladdin lamp. It was metal. It gave out a white light. However, the inventor wasn't really thinking what he was doing. The flame had a small wire above it with a top and two sides. Stretched over the wire was gauze. It kept catching on fire and Uncle Doc kept rushing out and throwing it in the snow. We kept using it because it put out a lot more light than the other lamps. We could see to do lessons better. An ordinary lamp put out more light than a candle, but not a lot.

The Black Forest clock

Mom bought a Black Forest clock about the time I started high school. It had a door near the top in front. Instead of a talking bird, the children -- a boy and a girl -- came out if it was going to be a nice day. The old witch came out if we were going to have bad weather.

It really worked. I guess the extra dampness in the air made the witch come out. I remember looking at it before I left for high school. It was hanging on the wall in the kitchen, by the front door.

I remember stopping to look at the clock as I was leaving for school in the springtime when the air felt alive, heavy with moisture, and movable.

It felt wonderful and interesting, not just hot and dry like it does out here in Arizona, It made me feel alive.

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This is Home, Part 29 - Mom's Red Dress, Mom's sore throat, Mom's headaches, Mom's hives

This is part 29 of my mother's book about her life, written in 2004.

Mom's Red Dress

Mom told me that when she was young her favorite color was red. She said she wanted a red dress but in those days, a nice girl didn't wear that color. When Jean and I were grown and I lived out here in Arizona, she bought herself a red and black checked suit. So she finally got to wear red.

Mom's sore throat

Mom said when she was little and had a sore throat that needed a doctor, the doctor blew a yellow powder onto her throat through a straw. The name of the powder was something like Golden Seal. I wonder if it was sulfa?

Mom's headaches

Mom said she used to have really bad "sick headaches" and there wasn't really much anyone could do for them except put a wet cloth on her forehead and tell her to rest. She said she was so thankful when they got aspirin.

I checked and found out aspirin was invented a year before she was born. It was evidently not in common usage since doctors didn't recommend it.

I remember her having them sometimes. She took aspirin and went to bed with a wet cloth on her head. Uncle Doc took over the cooking until she felt better.

As she got past middle age they just about went away.

Mom's hives

A funny thing happened one time, although I'm not sure Mom would characterize it that way.

Mom had hives for some reason. Nothing seemed to get rid of them. They just itched and itched.

One afternoon, a car pulled up out front. I told Mom a man in a suit was getting out. Mom gave me a horrified look and said, "I don't want to talk to him. Don't answer the door. Maybe he will go away."

By that time, the man was knocking on the door. We didn't answer. He knocked some more. He was pretty plain he wasn't going anywhere.

Finally, Mom said, "Answer the door, but don't invite him in. If he wants to talk to me, tell him I'm sick."

I answered and he did ask for Mom by name. I told him that she was sick and couldn't see anyone.

He said, "I'm a doctor."

I gave up and opened the screen door. Then I told Mom, who reluctantly crept out trying not to scratch or rub.

He turned out to be Dr. Grover Cleveland Rice, Daddy and Uncle Doc's cousin. He lived in Brunswick. He gave Mom some medicine to take. A doctor used to always take his black bag along. It had instruments and medicine in it along with first aid supplies.

Mom took the medicine, but it didn't work. She was having a miserable summer.

Finally, an old Indian traveling through sold her some medicine. By that time, Mom would have taken anything. It worked.

Dr. Rice often came to visit on Sunday after that and brought his wife and little girl. Everyone always enjoyed seeing them. They came for years until the little girl got old enough to be involved in a lot of activities. She was probably around three or four when they first started coming. She used to rock in one of my little chairs.

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Friday, October 18, 2013

This is Home, Part 28 - Electricity, mail, Mom shopped, the lunch counter, crops, gardens and pesticides, no irrigation, the plane in the pasture

This is part 28 of my mother's book about her life, written in 2004.


President Roosevelt's rural electrification program worked. Somewhere around my Freshman year, we got electricity, as did our neighbors. The white light was lovely compared to the yellow lamp light.


The men had moved the mailbox up by the garage. The carrier came by in his Model A. I used to run out and get the mail and he started holding out Edgar's letter to me and saying, "He sent you a letter today."

Sometimes, when it was cold and bad, the mail carrier would come into the house, sit by the fire awhile, and have a cup of coffee and talk.

Edgar and I used air mail stamps on our letters. They were five cents. A regular stamp was three cents.

Mom shopped

Sometimes, Uncle Doc would take mom to town while we were at school. When we got home, we would find new skirts and blouses on our beds. Sometimes, we would have sweater sets instead. Socks, too, with either.

I liked -- and still like -- wool skirts because they fit well and feel good. Of course, they had to be dry cleaned.

The lunch counter

When I was in college, I had a friend, Nancy, who worked at a pharmacy. They had a lunch counter she worked behind. I used to eat there everyday. I could get a grilled pimento cheese sandwich or a ham salad for fifteen cents and a Coke for five cents. No tax. Sometimes, I would have the chicken salad sandwich for 20 cents plus a Coke for five cents.

Things were a lot cheaper then, but income was less.

Crops, gardens and pesticides

Crops and gardens were never sprayed with anything on either farm. No other farmer in our area sprayed crops, either. The noise of a plane close to the ground and a cloud of what looks like dust is not something one could hide.

The soil on the big farm was very acid. Sometimes -- years apart -- Daddy would lime the fields to improve the soil. I can only remember this happening three times, but it could have happened when I was gone.

Actually, I think the acid soil was responsible for the beautiful color of the flowers and how well everything grew.

Daddy planted more grass in the yard for several years, then waited a few years. He had a sort of sack-like thing with a strap over the opposite shoulder that he put seed in and threw it out by hand as he walked around the yard. The yard was planted with bluegrass and some other grass. I keep thinking rye, but the description in the dictionary doesn't sound anything like the grass we had. The grass was very tender, cool blades that were single. It actually felt soft. The yard was covered with grass. So were the pastures.

No irrigation

There was also no irrigation. Water was provided by the frequent rains.

We had a changeable, capricious weather pattern. There was a saying back there: "If you don't like the weather, wait a while and it will change."

The plane in the pasture

One summer day, a small private plane landed on the rise in the pasture. This was the pasture between the house and the mailbox. The side David and I saw.

The men must have seen it come down, because by the time the pilot walked to the house, they were all coming into the yard. They got the container or containers of gasoline the pilot needed and he invited all of us to come see his plane. So we all walked over in the pasture with him and admired the plane.

See, one never knows what interesting thing will happen on a farm! I must have been in late grade school or early high school at that time.

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This is Home, Part 27 - Edgar, Edgar joins the Navy, square dancing

This is part 27 of my mother's book about her life, written in 2004.


When I became a Freshman, I saw this really dreamy guy. I kept meeting him in the hall when we were going opposite directions to class. He had brown wavy hair, blue eyes, and wore glasses. He was also wearing casual dress clothes that looked really good on him. No blue jeans like everyone else. His clothes were also pressed with sharp creases. I found out he was a Junior and his name was Edgar Taylor, Jr. Bea's brother-in-law and Howard's younger brother.

Martha and I started calling him "Mr. Glasses" so hopefully the other kids wouldn't know who we were talking about if they overheard.

I had a date with Edgar during the latter part of my sophomore year. He took me to a calico hop at the school.

After school was out, we dated a lot. He gave me his class ring to signify we were going steady. I put medical tape on the inside and wore it on my ring finger.

He had graduated from high school at the end of my sophomore year.

Edgar joins the Navy

Edgar had to spend some time in the armed forces, as did all young men. So he joined the Navy for four years. He came home every chance he got. Just like in the movies, he hitched a ride. Then sometimes he got a leave.

He was stationed in San Diego finally and from there was sent in a ship with his division to patrol the waters around Korea. I didn't know where he was until later; everything was secret. I wrote to a San Diego address and the letter was sent from there to him. We tried to write every day. Sometimes, the mail didn't get through and we would not get any letters, then would get several.

We had fun when he got a leave. We went to movies, went to see Bea and Howard where we played cards and laughed, went walking in the pasture, and sometimes went to a teen hangout where we drank Coke, talked and listened to the jukebox.

Square dancing

One time we went to a square dance at Edgar's parent's home. Edgar and James tried to show me how, but it was hopeless. I couldn't understand what the caller was saying. James was Edgar's younger brother.

Funny -- Mom said she used to love to square dance. Her father fiddled for dances, sometimes.

Uncle Doc used to like to square dance, too, he said.

After we came home from a date, we used to sit in Edgar's car by the garage with the yard light blazing in and talk.

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This is Home, Part 26 - How to find a husband, a Freshman in high school, Martha, skating and Charley, Bea divorces, remarries

This is part 26 of my mother's book about her life, written in 2004.

How to find a husband

When I was in high school -- all the way through it -- the girls did not plan to work. They intended to get married, instead. Even in college, this was true. They just went to college to find someone to marry. The magazines during that time had all sorts of advice on attracting a husband. Part of the advice was listening to his opinions instead of expressing yours. Never admit that you know things he doesn't. Never beat him in any kind of game. Encourage him to talk about himself and his job. Listen and look interested. Make him feel important.

They even had advice on manners such as who walked down a movie theater aisle first behind the usher. We had ushers with flashlights who found a seat for people then.

Articles like this were in Redbook, Good Housekeeping and other magazines of this type. Even Glamour, I think it was.

A Freshman in high school

Anyway, high school was a lot of fun, except the punishment for being a Freshman girl was dressing in blue jeans for a certain time period. I didn't have jeans, so Aunt Edith or Bea borrowed a pair of Edgar's from his mother. They weren't a bad fit, except the waist was larger than mine and they were a lot too long. I wore a belt and rolled them up. We were supposed to look like boys, so no makeup. I only wore lipstick and powder anyway, so that didn't bother me too much.


I kept getting to the room I was supposed to have a class in earlier than anyone else, except this tall girl with light brown shoulder length hair and big blue eyes. After we had stood together for several classes a day waiting for the door to be opened, for maybe a couple of days, we finally started talking.

We became best friends and walked around together. We stayed all night at each other's homes and sometimes we stayed weekends.

Her name was Martha Riley. We had the same initials and our fathers were both named Ernest, so they had the same initials.

When I first told Mom about her, she said she remembered seeing her at the grade school graduation.

Skating and Charley

Martha and Jean got along well. One time they decided to see if they could skate. Mom said it would be all right if they skated along one side of the wall in the South bedroom, since the "room size" carpet left quite a bit of space along the sides. Mom was just going to redo the floor later if it needed it.

Anyway, they took turns skating along while holding onto things. I think they finally got bold enough to go outside on the walk. I don't remember them falling.

Charley, Daddy and Uncle Doc came home for dinner. Someone talked Charley into trying skating. It wasn't me -- I didn't think it looked like fun. I thought it looked like work and maybe a broken bone.

Charley put on the skates and tried to skate on the walk. The first thing that happened, his feet shot out from under him and he landed on his back. He looked so funny that everyone laughed, then asked if he was okay and helped him up. He was, but I don't think anyone skated after that. It was time for dinner, anyway.

Bea divorces, remarries

Bea and Bob were divorced after he came home. She met Howard Taylor, later, and after awhile they were married. Howard was good looking. He had dark hair and blue eyes and a nice smile. I liked him.

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Monday, September 16, 2013

This is Home, Part 25 - President Roosevelt, the war ends, the men come home

This is part 25 of my mother's book about her life, written in 2004.

President Roosevelt

President Roosevelt had led the country almost through World War II. He is the only president in history who was elected for four terms. I read that in each of those elections, he carried 31 states out of 48. He was loved in the United States and the world.

Just a few days before graduation, we were listening to the radio and heard that President Roosevelt had died. This was on April 12th. I remember telling Daddy, Uncle Doc and Charley that he had died. They were bringing the horses and wagon back from working. For the first time, I saw tears in Uncle Doc's eyes.

President Roosevelt's friends and neighbors plus thousands of others stood weeping at Warm Springs as the funeral train left for Washington, D.C. It took around twenty three hours to get there. (I hope I remembered this correctly.) His casket had been placed on something that raised it so it could be seen out of the windows. At night, the lights in the train were dimmed and the car with his casket was brightly lit. It was also brightly lit during the day. His casket could be seen for miles. The tracks were lined on both sides all the way through the countryside with thousands of people weeping. No matter what the hour there were grandparents, mothers and fathers, often holding children. Mrs. Roosevelt sat watching the continuing tribute to her husband.

On the trip from Washington to Hyde Park, N.Y., the situation was the same.

His daughter, Anna, remembers sitting on the floor and watching from her window all the people who loved him. He was buried in his rose garden at his home in Hyde Park.

There is a famous picture of a black man in a uniform crying and playing "Going Home" on his accordion. I don't know where it was taken.

When President Roosevelt died, it was similar to when President Kennedy died. The whole world mourned and everyone remembers where they were when they heard.

Newspapers published a daily list of servicemen who had died for their country. The day after Roosevelt's death, some newspapers put at the head of their casualty list Roosevelt, Franklin D., Commander-in-Chief.

The war ends

The atomic bomb had been a closely guarded secret. President Truman got the shock of his life when he was told.

First, we had the formal surrender of Germany. V-E day -- Victory in Europe -- was May 8, 1945, but I think the formal surrender was somewhat later. President Roosevelt had told someone that the war in Europe would be over by the end of May.

After calling for the Japanese surrender and receiving their refusal, Truman ordered the first atomic bomb dropped on Japan. They still refused and kept fighting. After a second atomic bomb was dropped, they wanted to stop fighting. The formal surrender was signed on September 2, 1945 (V-J Day) on board the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay. World War II was over.

The men come home

Lawrence (Mary Ellen's husband) came home. So did Bob Bolton (Bea's husband). Denver Williams came home with a bride, Caroline, from the South. So we acquired a Catholic girl in a community that was Baptist. Most of the servicemen came home, except for a military force which we maintained overseas.

The jobs that had been filled by their wives were given back to the soldiers. That sounds strange today, but in those days, women were usually housewives. However, some of them liked working and missed their jobs.

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This is Home, Part 24 - Back to Hickory, back to Darksville, the manger scene on the blackboard, Darksville community functions, cleaning the floors in school, cleaning the office, grade school graduation

This is part 24 of my mother's book about her life, written in 2004.

Back to Hickory

We went back to Hickory for my seventh grade after going to Darksville for the sixth. We got a new teacher, one that was a year or two older than Uncle Doc. Her name was Miss Gussie Eagan. I really liked her. I was the oldest student in school and the only one in my class. I don't know where Mary Hill was. Probably, she liked going to Darksville better. Her family was the next family toward the school. We must have just barely had enough children. They were all younger than I was. Jean was there, too.

During an earlier year, we went to school briefly with a girl who had TB (tuberculosis). Uncle Doc heard her cough and he talked to her parents. She had to be withdrawn from school. I don't know if they knew and sent her anyway, or if they had her checked after he talked to them. TB was called consumption then.

I got a lot of concentrated help on my math from my seventh grade teacher. And I got to do extra things like putting new numbers and letters on library books showing what type of books they were. Then I rearranged the library.

I noticed that Uncle Doc talked to Miss Eagan about the war, sometimes. I had her all picked out for an aunt, but he wouldn't listen. That was when he told me about the girl he loved who died. At the end of the year, the school closed permanently.

Back to Darksville

So, everyone went to Darksville again. Where we lived, everyone was pretty much a Baptist. This year, someone who taught a class in the Darksville Baptist Church (right next to the school) decided to teach anyone who was interested after school. So Jean and I stayed, along with some others. Mary Hill was one.

The manger scene on the blackboard

At school, the teacher had me draw the manger scene with Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus. Also, the wise men, shepherds and animals. Of course, the shining star, too. I made it with colored chalk, on the blackboard. It was up for maybe a couple of weeks before Christmas. After church, which we had started attending, everyone walked next door to see the picture that covered the blackboard. I wondered how they knew it was there.

Darksville community functions

While Jean and I were going to Darksville School for two years, we attended community functions along with our family.

I remember one time we went to a Halloween get-together. Everyone was supposed to dress up and the one who wasn't recognized or the ones who weren't recognized would get a prize or prizes.

Mom, Jean and I dressed up in costumes. This was when I was in the sixth grade. Mom said, "Let me go in first. You two girls stay here and wait for awhile before you come in. Then come in together." She couldn't convince Jean to wait and neither could I. Jean went in walking really close to Mom's side and partly behind her. Jean was very shy.

A woman -- one of the judges -- told Mom afterwards that they couldn't guess who she was until they saw Jean.

Everyone played Upset the Fruit Basket and Musical Chairs, and tried to get the bobbing apple out of the tub of water with their teeth. I hate stuff like that, so I did my usual disappearing act into the cloak room. After awhile they missed me and knew just where to look -- unfortunately.

Cleaning the floors in school

Cleaning the floors in grade school was interesting. It was swept, but every once in awhile the teachers sprinkled oily sawdust over it.

The students got to run and slide, thus cleaning the floor. The floor was made of wood.

Cleaning the office

When I was working in the real estate office, they did the same thing -- oily sawdust on the floor every so often. Joyce (W.B.'s secretary) and I either slid or rubbed it into the floor by walking; I don't remember. Mr. Stone (my boss) had three older children by a previous marriage. A couple of them may have helped. I'm pretty sure the older child, Jimmy, did help because he swept the floor every evening and emptied the trash. He was 13 years of age.

Grade school graduation

We graduated from grade school along with all the other schools around. We had to all go to the Moberly Municipal Auditorium to graduate. This was in April 1945.

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Saturday, August 03, 2013

This is Home, Part 23 - General Lee, the clay statue of the surrender, Spencer switches sides, Victor Rice, surprise cousin

This is part 23 of my mother's book about her life, written in 2004.

General Lee

I was fascinated by General Lee. The famous Southern General Robert E. Lee in the Civil War. I asked Uncle Doc one time if he had been the right age to go, which side would he have fought on. He said he thought General Lee was an honorable, upstanding man and he admired him. He also said that Missouri had good people fighting on both sides. He said he would have fought on the side of the North. He said all the states were part of a union, and without the states staying together they could be defeated by a foreign power.

The clay statue of the surrender

I admired General Lee so much that I made the scene where General Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House in Virginia to General Grant. I drew in the background inside of a box -- the courthouse, trees, etc. Then I made General Lee riding up on Traveler, his horse, out of clay. General Lee was very detailed -- his beard, his face, his horse, his uniform, his gun, and his hand holding the reins. In those days, we didn't know about the kind of clay my children and grandchildren used. This was made of clay -- a type of soil.

I think there may have been a dog or two in the scene, also.

The art teacher thought it was really good. There was some sort of contest she wanted to enter it in. She thought it had an excellent chance of winning, she said, if she could just get it there. She said the roads were really bad and her car was sliding around a lot -- that it might break on the way. She left it up to me what to do. I decided to let her take it. I couldn't keep it forever.

Next time I saw her, she told me she was sorry, but General Lee didn't make it. The roads were too bad.

Spencer switches sides

Katie Jane (my double cousin) told me a funny -- as in odd -- thing when David and I were back there in 1997. She said our grandfather, Spencer P. Rice, was in the Southern Army, but that near the end of the war, he joined the Northern Army. He wanted to protect his family and keep his home from being destroyed. His crops and animals, also.

Victor Rice, surprise cousin

Maybe the Civil War was why Victor Rice and I didn't know each other when we both rode the bus from below Darksville to Huntsville High School. I had people asking me if he was my brother.

Finally, he came over to me and said, "Is your name Maudie Rice? I keep getting asked if you are my little sister." We decided to ask our families that night. We found out we were cousins. This is all I was told by Mom. We didn't really become friends, although we continued to ride the same bus together for two years, until he graduated. We always smiled and spoke. Martha (my friend) thought Victor was cute. He was tall with brown hair and blue eyes. Actually, all the older Rices I saw had blue eyes. Uncle Doc would correct me. He said he had green eyes. Dr. Rice may have had brown. If so, he was the only one.

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Sunday, July 14, 2013

This is Home, Part 22 - Darksville school, Miss Evelyn finds her calling, the new teacher, caught by Miss Evelyn, Coal and Art

This is part 22 of my mother's book about her life, written in 2004.

Darksville school

Hickory school closed after my fifth grade because there weren't enough children. We had to attend Darksville school.

Miss Evelyn finds her calling

Miss Evelyn joined the service. Can you believe she actually tried to write to Jean and me? She probably became a sergeant and yelled at the soldiers. The idea of a gun in her hands is really frightening.

Darksville school was actually quite nice -- except for the time two of the boys chased me with a dead snake during the lunch hour.

The new teacher

The teacher was Miss Doris. She was young and pretty with dark hair. Best of all, she was nice.

She left me in charge when she went to make a phone call sometimes. She told me to write down names of students who got out of their seats or talked. I wrote down their names, but I never turned them in. The idea that I might probably subdued them some.

Schools were pretty strict in those days. No talking, no moving around, no anything without permission.

Caught by Miss Evelyn

When we were in grade school at Hickory (Miss Evelyn), the boy across the aisle asked me if he could borrow a pencil. I was reading, so I just picked up one from my pencil box and held it out to him. I finally realized that he wasn't taking it.

I looked at him and he was staring at Miss Evelyn. I looked at her and put the pencil back. She made both of us come up in front of the school, and stand with the toes of our shoes touching chalk lines facing the room. We had to stand there until noon, which was over half an hour away. It seemed longer.

I hadn't said one word. I hated standing still worse than anything, except maybe being interrogated in the cloak room.

Coal and Art

There was a coal furnace in the classroom. Miss Evelyn was trying to get it to burn one day while everyone was standing around shivering. I used to get really cold back there unless I was close to heat.

I was shivering and my teeth were practically chattering I was so cold. I said I was so cold several times before Miss Evelyn said that she had better not hear that again. I don't know why she waited until we were all there before trying to start it.

We had an Art teacher who visited all the schools. She only came once or twice a month. It was her time to come that day. She walked in and said, "It's freezing in here. I'm so cold." I really liked her anyway -- after that, I loved her.

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This is Home, Part 21 - Uncle Doc fixed tires, Mom curled our hair, Tangee, the Toni

This is part 21 of my mother's book about her life, written in 2004.

Uncle Doc fixed tires

Uncle Doc used to do some repair I thought was interesting. I don't know that this was something that would especially be done during war time. I think it was probably just something necessary when one lived out of town.

Uncle Doc used to take off the car's flat tire. Then he took the inner tube out of it. He put water in one of the large galvanized tubs and put the inner tube in it. He had to keep pushing it down; it wanted to float. When he held it down, there would be bubbles of air from the puncture.

Uncle Doc had a tire repair kit with a light weight metal thing about the size of a flash light. It had metal pieces sticking out on one end that he rubbed over the puncture, then he put glue from a tube in the kit on one of the patches and glued it on. Of course, the inner tube had to be taken out of the water and dried before it could be patched. After the glue dried, the inner tube could be put back in the tire and the tire put on.

Mom curled our hair

Sometimes Mom used to curl our hair before we went to school. She had a metal curling iron. This was before we got electricity, so it was during grade school.

The curling iron was longer than the ones used today. The curling iron had a long rounded (like a pencil) part that the lock of hair was wrapped around, then had a long curved piece that fit halfway around the rounded part. It had handles that resembled handles of scissors.

Mom would open the curling iron and put the rounded part and the part that fit over it carefully into the opposite sides of the lamp chimney. The heat from the lamp flame would heat the iron. It cooled fast, so she had to keep heating it.

My hair uncurled itself in a short time.


We had a very interesting first lipstick. It was called Tangee. It was a small tube like the ones used on the large Barbie faces by Patricia, Sharon, and Christina. However, Tangee was for girls, not dolls.

When we put it on it felt like Chapstick does and had a faint orange tint. We found out that the more we put on, the more color our lips had. However, we still had just a small amount of color.

This was in grade school. In high school I had a medium red lipstick. I think Jean had a different shade.

The Toni

There used to be an ad in magazines showing twin young women with curly hair, with the question: "Which twin has the Toni?"

A Toni was a permanent one could give oneself. Jean and I liked the twins' hair, so sometimes during the summer Mom would give each of us a Toni. We sat out on the concrete top or steps of the well from which they got drinking water, to dry our hair. We loved the soft curly hair that resulted from Mom's work.

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This is Home, Part 20 - Pearl Harbor

This is part 20 of my mother's book about her life, written in 2004.

Pearl Harbor

On December 7, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. I was ten years old. Jean was just barely eight.

Daddy and Uncle Doc had been talking about Hitler's armed forces marching through and taking over various countries. I remember the big black headlines in the Moberly Monitor-Index about him goose-stepping across Poland. There had been headlines for a long time about Hitler. But America was very isolationist then and people were saying, "Our boys will never die on foreign soil."

Uncle Doc, Daddy and Mom thought we would eventually be in the war. England was being bombed and wanted our help. I thought how awful it must be to be bombed and to have blackouts at night. Uncle Doc said if we didn't do something to help them, we would be bombed in the future -- and our allies would already be defeated.

President Roosevelt thought of something. He started a lend-lease program with England and sent them military equipment.

We heard about Pearl Harbor being bombed while we were visiting Frank and Valere Rice, at Renick, Missouri. I remember how upset everyone was. They were saying that it wouldn't take long to beat the Japanese. Thus we were at war.

Everyone really hated the Japanese. None lived around where we were. People are having a problem now with the removal of Japanese in America to special areas for security reasons. They should remember that during the time Pearl Harbor was being bombed and all the American lives lost, two representatives of Japan were in Washington talking peace. They were at the very least sneaky and untrustworthy. How were we to know that Japanese living here weren't also helping Japan? They had relatives there.

I also know of another reason they should have been moved. With so much hatred in America, I don't believe they would have been safe mixed with the general population. They should have been moved for both reasons -- especially the first.

All of a sudden, neighbor boys were joining the service. Maudie and Irwin Williams' son, Denver, joined. Mary Ellen's boyfriend, Lawrence Burris, went and Bea met and fell in love with a sailor, Bob Bolton.

Mary Ellen and Lawrence got married, and so did Bea and Bob. Bea had been saying what I thought was a strange thing. She had been saying, "I have to get married and start my family now." In view of future events, maybe she knew.

Anyway, there were a lot of war time weddings. Suddenly, the streets of Moberly had a lot of soldiers, sailors and Marines walking around.

There were military planes flying over the farm. I think there were bases at both Kansas City and St. Louis.

Movie stars toured the United States selling war bonds. Some movie stars joined the service. Others entertained. We bought war stamps at school.

Some items were rationed all of a sudden. Just off hand, I remember coffee, sugar, shoes and tires being rationed. We had to have coupons to buy them. The men gave Jean and me their shoe coupons because our feet kept growing. We couldn't get silk stockings (hose). I think silk might have been used in parachutes.

New factories were created, old ones converted into turning out military equipment. Wives and single women got jobs there to help with the war effort and to feed their families.

There was one man in our neighborhood who got a draft classification that permitted him to stay and work on his farm. Farm work was considered vital. The armed forces had to be fed. But people in our area weren't too happy with the man. They considered him a "slacker."

The man was young and had little children and might have lost his small farm if he had gone. Although, he could probably have got his father to farm for him. He had a well-known last name.

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This is Home, Part 19 - The times improve, Miss Evelyn plays detective

This is part 19 of my mother's book about her life, written in 2004.

The times improve

President Roosevelt had reopened the banks soon after he took office and instigated a number of different work programs to put people back to work. When it was time for one of his fireside chats, we were all in front of the radio listening. There were no more soup lines. The tramps stopped coming by, and business executives were no longer selling apples on street corners.

Miss Evelyn plays detective

Miss Hazel only taught during my first year at school. We managed to get through three more years of school in spite of the fact that we had Miss Evelyn as the teacher. She was absolutely unbelievable. I kept telling Uncle Doc that I wanted him to get rid of her. He just said, "I have to hire whoever has the best qualifications."

Every winter Jean and I managed to come down with bad colds, heavy croupy coughs, sore throats and sometimes lung congestion. Mom used to use something similar to Vicks on our throats and, if need be, chests. Then she tore a flannel cloth into a square, held it around the lamp chimney to heat it, and put it on us. The heat felt really good.

We even managed to get flu sometimes. Then the doctor came.

One time when we got back to school, Miss Evelyn interrogated us separately in the cloak room. I think Mom had sent a note. She wanted to know why when one got sick the other one did. She wanted to know why we had missed school. She wanted to know where the one she was talking to felt sick and where the other one felt sick. She asked what the family said about it. She also wanted to know if a doctor had been called. Those are just some of the questions. She thought of more.

We went home after school and told Mom, Daddy and Uncle Doc.

Next day, Mom and Uncle Doc went to school with us. Mom was really mad and Uncle Doc wasn't too happy. Mom told her that she (Mom) didn't understand what she had been trying to do and that when she was told that the children had been ill, she should accept that and not question them about where they had felt bad and who in the family had said what. Mom said that she had never heard of such a thing.

Uncle Doc told her that she had been hired to teach and that was what he expected her to do. He sounded quite calm and firm. He also said questioning any of the students in the cloak room was not part of her job.

I really couldn't stand that teacher. I used to have dreams that I was flying just out of her reach and she couldn't catch me. I used to swoop down toward her in the dreams and fly back up when she grabbed for me.

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