Friday, March 15, 2013

This is Home, Part 8 - The big, big turtle, taking a bath, Charley: tricks and treats, Charley and the doll, cars and tractors, cattle, crops and food

This is part 8 of my mother's book about her life, written in 2004.

The big, big turtle

I liked to play tricks on Charley because of the way he reacted. He usually laughed. Daddy and Uncle Doc wouldn't have thought it was funny. Anyway, Daddy and Charley were cleaning out the stalls in the barn one time, and thanks to me, every time they got to the door with a shovel of manure and straw, I had closed the door. After the second or third time, Daddy said in a no-nonsense tone not to do it again. So I looked around for something else to do. I went out of the barn lot into the pasture beside it, where the pond was. I saw a huge turtle walking toward the gate from the direction of the pond. To this day, I have not seen a turtle that large. I looked around and found a stick. I poked it toward its head, trying to make the turtle tuck its head, legs and tail into its shell.

It wouldn't do it. It snapped at the stick and actually grabbed it. So I took it for a walk. When it let go, I repeated the procedure. I did it several times, then I took a good look at him. It had a face that reminded me of a snake, and taller and stronger legs than I thought possible. The shell was up quite a way from the ground and this turtle seemed to be moving pretty fast.

I was mad at Daddy and Charley, and Uncle Doc wasn't around, so there wasn't anyone to tell. I have often wondered where it went, and hoped it was far away and not in the pond across the road that the little lambs ran around in the spring and where Charley usually took a bath.

Charley was the only one of us who knew how to swim. There was a trough over in the pasture that could be used, I suppose. Just like the cowboys in the stories.

Taking a bath

When we were small children, we could take a bath in the rinse tubs, but when we got larger, it meant getting a pan of warm water and soap, setting it on the stove in the bedroom, and standing there washing from head to toe with a washcloth. One of the nurses in the hospital called that type of washing a spit bath.

We washed our hair in a wash pan. That is a pan one washes one's hands in.

Charley: Tricks and treats

I played other tricks on Charley. I used to climb up in Daddy, Uncle Doc, and Charley's lap and listen to them talk. Then I would go to sleep and whoever was holding me would carry me to the bedroom and leave me lying on the bed. Mom came in and covered me up.

Anyway, I decided to play a trick on Charley. I pretended to be asleep. He carried me in and left. I got very quietly off the bed and sneaked down right behind him. He was telling Mom, "Poor little Maudie, dead to the world. I put her on the bed." About that time, I said from behind him, "No, I'm not." He practically jumped out of his skin.

Charley used to bring me arrowheads from different places he worked on our farm. I wasn't really interested then, but now I wish I had kept them. I still have one. It looks as though they made it out of rock. Actually carved it out of rock. It has flat places on it and ridges.

He also described snakes he had killed. One of the hay fields has flat land surrounded by trees and brush. He told me one time about being chased by a blue racer in the hay field. He killed it. Sometimes, he found a rattlesnake in that field. If he killed one close to the house, unfortunately he showed it to me.

Charley bought my first wrist watch for me. It had a leather strap and lasted for years. He also bought Jean something when he bought a gift for me. One time, he went to a carnival and bought me a large red and white cow. It stood about fourteen or fifteen inches from the floor. He bought Jean a big sitting dog -- black and white with a red collar.

He also used to play ball with us. I got dragged into it -- too much action for me.

Charley and the doll

Charley gave me a little doll that his mother had given him when he was little. It had a stuffed body (straw, maybe) and white unbreakable arms and legs. I didn't know what material. It also had a white china head that looked like a cat. It had green eyes and painted ears. It was wearing a red and white striped dress and had black shoes painted on its feet.

I kept it for years, but I only have the head left. I have it in a safe place and always think of Charley when I see it. He felt like family. I miss hem, too.

This was either before school or during grade school.

Cars and tractors

Charley liked cars. He kept trading for a different one. Hood ornaments were a big thing then. So his cars had chrome or chrome-looking ornaments. Ours didn't.

Speaking of cars, I remember when Uncle Doc had to get out of the car to insert a crank in the front of it and crank it to make it start. It must have been the Model T or Model A, or something like that.

Daddy never learned to drive. He did all his farming with horses. In 1948, the Rice Bros. of Randolph County won a De Kalb corn growing contest with 141.48 bushels per acre. They received a plaque with this information on it. The plaque also had a little gold colored ear of corn with wings. There was also a certificate that I took off the wall so it wouldn't fade, and now I can't find it. It is here somewhere, though.

Practically everyone else was using tractors. Daddy and Uncle Doc bought a new tractor -- green and yellow -- only to find out that Uncle Doc couldn't take the jolting. He had nephritis the whole time I knew him and before. It is a kidney disease that causes chronically inflamed kidneys. Charley could drive the tractor, but it was also difficult to start. It was a brand that was and is well known. It was an Allis-Chalmers or a John Deere.

Anyway, they sold it later and bought a smaller one that hugged the ground more. It was a Ford.

Tractors can be hazardous to operate where the land has hills and hollows. Someone Daddy and Uncle Doc knew died when his tractor turned over and fell on him.

This was not that unusual. There were quite a few accidents reported in the paper.

Cattle, crops and food

Daddy and Uncle Doc raised black Angus cattle and sheep for sale. There were also a few hogs and maybe a couple of horses or so.

They raised crops of corn, Timothy hay, soy beans, wheat, winter wheat, oats, and alfalfa. There may have been others. They sold what wasn't needed as food for the animals.

Late each fall when the weather was cold, three of the hogs were butchered for meat. Coarse salt was rubbed into the outside of the meat to preserve it. It was cut into large parts first -- parts such as hams and bacon.

I remember when pieces of meat were fed into a meat grinder to make sausage. Salt, pepper and sage were added. Then the whole thing was mixed in a large galvanized tub. The grinder was fastened onto the side of the tub.

Mom usually cooked liver the first night. Uncle Doc liked it, but Jean and I hated it. Mom started cooking sausage, too, so we would eat some of the meat. There were huge crocks -- bucket shaped -- containing lard. Some meat was packed into large containers.

Daddy and Uncle Doc never smoked the meat. They preserved it with salt, instead. However, during one winter our whole family was sick in bed with the flu. A neighbor, Roscoe Wright, who lived two or three houses above us, came down and butchered, sugar cured and smoked the hogs for us. Every day, he fed all the animals for us, milked the cows, and did anything else that needed doing. I don't know what we would have done without him.

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