Saturday, May 04, 2013

This is Home, Part 14 - Hot dogs, the little monkey, the puppy in the pocket

This is part 14 of my mother's book about her life, written in 2004.

Hot dogs

We used to shop sometimes in Macon instead of Moberly when I was small. They had really good franks at Macon. They were a lot better than what can be bought today. They were large and I loved the skin. It was greasy. It could actually be browned.

The little monkey

I got out of actual shopping for anything if I could. While Mom was shopping one time, Daddy and I made a lovely discovery. There was a man with a monkey just off the main street. It had a little collar around its neck and a tiny chain kept him from disappearing. I'm not sure if he had on a little jacket and cap or not. He was a capuchin monkey. His owner may have had an accordion or something similar. Something attracted our attention.

Anyway, he was such a cute, friendly little monkey. Daddy gave him coins and he bit each one to see if it was good before he put it in a purse. He was in or on some sort of cart. Daddy asked what he could eat. One thing was coconut candy. There used to be candy that was about the size of and shaped like candy made with maraschino cherries in it. Coconut candy had a pale coating of one of these: white, pink, yellow, brown, or green candy. Inside was coconut candy. It could be bought in bulk at grocery stores. The store would put it in a small white sack.

We always fed the monkey coconut candy and gave him coins. I remember him holding out his tiny little hands. He was so cute.

The puppy in the pocket

Jean always stayed with Mom and missed all the fun. She never got into things like I did. One time Daddy and I were walking along a street in Moberly. A man stepped forward and fished this cute little puppy out of his coat pocket. It had huge eyes and a little blunt face and was furry. I really wanted that pup. I petted him. Daddy admired him. I wanted him, but Daddy wouldn't get him. He said that kind of dog belonged in town, not on a farm.

It was a Pekingese and looked like Bandit.

So far I have had three Pekingese since living out here. Sharon bought me two of them. They were all pure bred. Bandit was born in Phoenix, but Wojo came from Kansas and Mizzou came from Missouri.

Sharon also bought me a pure bred Boston terrier named Lady Bug. We used to have a book with a Boston terrier in it and I wanted one.

Daddy, Uncle Doc, and Charley always bought us a candy bar or an ice cream cone each when we all went to town. The candy bars were all chocolate and all different. Mom finally said that was too much.

Daddy and Uncle Doc always met a lot of men they knew to talk with. They were lawyers, judges, politicians, Democratic Committee members, farmers and others. They stood around in groups and talked.

The family I grew up in were staunch Democrats, as I am today.

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This is Home, Part 13 - The seasons change: Colored leaves and holidays, autumn in Missouri, Thanksgiving and snow, Mom sewed, Christmas

This is part 13 of my mother's book about her life, written in 2004.

The seasons change: Colored leaves and holidays

Summer had drifted by. It was autumn or fall. In Missouri, autumn is a spectacular time of year. Very beautiful -- with trees of red and trees of gold. There was a vine that had dark red leaves. There were a lot of trees. There was a wooded area between us and Wayman Hill. It was on the side of a larger hill and very spectacular when all the trees were dressed for autumn. We also had at least ten trees in our yard, but only some changed color. Four were cedars.

In school for years, we were supposed to bring in different kinds of leaves and trace around them and fill in the veins. Then write the name underneath. I also remember vases of colored leaves. Mom used to also send a bouquet of autumn flowers.

For just about every holiday -- major -- we made booklets of pictures related to that holiday. For some holidays, we gave plays. I remember the windows being decorated with witches on brooms for Halloween. Uncle Doc or Daddy actually brought a shock of corn with pumpkins (they raised a few pumpkins, too) that were put around it.

Autumn in Missouri

Autumn back home is like no other place I have lived. There are certain days with a pale drift of sun, a gentle breeze, and a feeling of something lost just beyond the reach of memory. Slightly sad days with something long forgotten that can not be remembered. A drifting kind of a day. I could almost hear voices in the wind. Strange. I never thought that I would ever live any place but there.

Thanksgiving and snow

November and Thanksgiving. I don't remember about what Miss Hazel taught or did but usually there was the mandatory play and the whole neighborhood came.

Finally I was out of school for a few days. Jean and I watched Mom make pumpkin pies by the double kitchen windows while big flakes of snow came down outside. Soon the fence posts were wearing little caps of snow and the bare branches of the trees were wearing snow. The whole scene looked like a winter wonderland. It was beautiful and cold.

The men weren't that thrilled. They swept the snow off their gum boots outside when they got back and headed straight for the stove in the living room. After awhile they took off the mittens Mom had made them, their lined blue jean coats, their sweaters, and caps. They took off their boots and stretched their stocking feet toward the fire. There were always chairs setting around the stove waiting for them.

Frankie headed behind the kitchen stove. The stove set out quite far from the wall because of the stove pipe. It was a nice warm stop. Frankie slept there all year around. Sometimes the men sat around the kitchen stove when Mom wasn't working in there. Frankie sometimes moved his legs and feet when he was asleep. Uncle Doc smiled and told me Frankie was chasing rabbits in his sleep.

Back in those days, dogs were fed scraps from the table. Mom used to tell Daddy not to feed Frankie when we were at the table eating. But Frankie always got under the table and waited. Pretty soon, with a guilty little grin, Daddy would be holding a bite of meat out to him. It was only the first.

Mom sewed

The mittens mentioned above were the only thing the men wanted to wear on their hands. Daddy said Mom's mittens were the only thing that would keep his hands warm. The outside of the mitten was made with what I think was called feather tick. It was the dark gray and white striped material that was commonly used on pillows. Then another material or two was placed inside the feather tick, and finally a soft white material that was called a sheet blanket was placed on the inside. Mom made them on her sewing machine. She brought the edge of the sheet blanket forward, folded it on the outside of the gloves and sewed it down.

They looked good and they did feel warm. She always made them each several pairs a year. The gloves also resisted dampness.

Mom's sewing machine came in handy. She used to make us skirts and dresses when we were little. She also made dresses for herself. She recovered chairs and they looked professional. She made drapes and contains for the windows. She also made cloth dolls to entertain us on gloomy days. they had yellow yarn hair. She also made clothes for our dolls.

She "pieced together" (made) a lot of quilts also. Our pillows were white ones with embroidered flowers on them and sometimes lace along the opening. She made the cases and did the embroidery and lace. She hooked rag rugs in her spare time. They were round and used to be tightly put together. They were throw rugs. They were made from left-over material torn into stripes and sometimes from unfaded material from clothes. Even pajamas.

Mom also made and embroidered dresser scarves and scarves for the lamp tables. She often edged them with lace.

She also made herself new aprons.

Another thing that she made was footstools. She used to buy coffee in tall, wide metal cans. I know each can was at least two pounds, but it could have been more. When she got enough cans -- maybe eight or nine -- she put sand in each can, fastened the lid on, wrapped them in upholstery cotton and tied them together. Put cotton in any vacant space between them. She also cut two solid pieces of cotton the same size as the top and bottom of the foot stool. She had made a pattern that had the top and bottom separate from the sides. She sewed it on the sewing machine as much as she could, then put the fastened together cans in and finished it. When she finished, it was a footstool covered with cotton inside. Nothing ever shifted in it, and one never felt the edge of the cans. The outside covering was a heavy cotton material that didn't seem to wear. I have one somewhere.


Since today is Christmas, I am thinking about Christmas on the farm.

We usually had the tree up about two weeks before Christmas and we took it down the day before New Year's day.

When it was time to get the tree, Mom would always say, "Now Ernest, we don't need a great big tree this year. Just a small one." Daddy would smile sheepishly and drive off with the horses and sleigh to get the tree. He loved Christmas just as much as we did. Frankie always went with him.

Sometime later Daddy came back with the cedar tree and yes, he did it again. It was too tall to stand up in the living room. So he had to saw part of it off. It smelled so fresh and wonderful. Of course, it should. It had just been chopped down over in the pasture. Jean and I -- and Daddy -- could hardly wait to get it up. Sometimes he shook snow off it. He always swept the snow off his gum boots before he came in. Gum boots were rubber boots that came up to a few inches below the knee. A couple of pairs of heavy, tall socks were worn with them, but no shoes. They were not made for shoes.

Finally, he had the tree up. We already had the decorations out. No electricity, no electric lights. We had beautiful breakable ornaments to put on it. Some of them were partly frosted. A few had Christmas scenes, a few were half an ornament with a deepening color and design. We also put foil icicles and a garland on it. It always had a silver star on top. Mom helped us decorate.

We knew Christmas was the birthday of Jesus and that he came so we could go to Heaven someday by believing in him. It was fun and exciting waiting for Santa, but still that period of time felt holy. The silence of the snow covered countryside probably contributed to this feeling. There was a peace not found today.

On Christmas morning, there were oranges, apples, nuts and candy for everyone. Two pairs of new overalls for Zack. Plus a sack of all the treats. He was a neighbor who was in college with Daddy and Uncle Doc. Zack got measles or something similar that caused him to run a very high temperature. He never recovered -- he became like a child of probably nine or so years.

He always came to our house to see what Santa had brought him. He ate Christmas dinner with us. His brother Albert was probably enjoying the quiet. Albert stayed a bachelor and spent his life farming and taking care of Zack.

Daddy, Uncle Doc and Charley got new mittens sometimes. I don't remember what Mom got.

When Jean and I were small, we found dolls, stuffed toys like bears, little rocking chairs sometimes, slates and chalk and other things. Plus all the food.

The bears that we had were different than the bears that children play with today. The ones we had were stiff, not soft like the ones today. Their faces were different and they had heavy wires in the legs and arms. The legs and arms were movable. Sometimes the heads were, too. They could sit, stand and walk with help.

As we got older, we found sweater sets, skirts, pen and pencil sets. Also a huge dark blue box for each with powder, perfume, toilet water set on a white silk interior. It was called Evening in Paris and was in dark blue containers. The scent of the perfume "Intimate" that I used to buy reminded me of it.

Back to Christmas. We never had turkey; we had pork roasts, usually. Mom always fixed a fantastic dinner with different kinds of pie. One of them was usually mince pie. At that time it was called mincemeat and actually had bits of meat in it.

One time on Christmas, when I was in early grade school, I followed Daddy outside in the snow. There were sleigh tracks near the yard fence but in the sheep pasture. I showed them to Daddy and told him I thought they were from the night before when Santa brought the presents. He agreed that it sure looked like it. Jean and I were delighted.

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This is Home, Part 12 - School, Uncle Doc and school, chores and school, Mom at school, school, box suppers

This is part 12 of my mother's book about her life, written in 2004.


All of a sudden the unbelievable happened. School was starting and I was expected to go. I felt like a queen who had just been dethroned.

Daddy and Uncle Doc had a cousin who taught school. He was young and his last name was Sears. He had come by every once in a while and taught me how to say the alphabet and read some. I could also count some.

When I started to school, I started in the second grade at the age of seven. You wouldn't believe how much I hated school.

To add insult to injury, Mom invited the teacher, Miss Hazel, to stay with us for awhile! She thought it would make it easier if I knew her. However, it just meant I could never escape her.

After a short time, I decided I couldn't stand the idea of going to school. I refused to go and I ran out of the house and under the honeysuckle bushes. They were like shorter trees and were quite wide.

I ran under one of the bushes and Mom and Miss Hazel tried to surround me and grab me. The bush was too wide and too low. They couldn't reach me. I just kept zooming from one to another. They tried for awhile longer, then finally gave up.

Miss Hazel went to school, but I stayed home.

No one yelled at me or spanked me. They didn't do that type of thing. They just went on with their work and ignored me somewhat. They answered questions, but just didn't engage in a conversation as they usually did. They made it clear they disapproved, without a word.

Next day I went back to school. I didn't do that particular thing again. I thought of others.

I went to school in a one room school house. There was a little room we entered first. It was a cloak room, but one wall was covered with books. It also served as a library. It also had a front porch before the cloak room. The front porch had a concrete floor and a roof over it.

Toys consisted of a ball and bat, chalk to play hopscotch on the porch, and a rope to jump while two other children turned it.

I don't know how many kids were necessary to have a school, but I do know there had to be a certain number. We probably had around fifteen or sixteen my first year. I found a picture of a year where I was probably around the fifth grade and there were sixteen children. The school had windows down one side and one in the library. I don't remember windows on the other side of the school room. We had to depend on the windows for light. No electricity. This teacher and the ones following made us go outside at noon and the two recesses. They also wanted us to join in playing. I wanted to stay inside and look at the books and later, I wanted to read and draw pictures. I hated baseball. It was so boring. I didn't mind playing hopscotch, tag, or jumping rope.

Uncle Doc and school

I asked Uncle Doc one time what he played when he went to school. He chuckled and looked like he was remembering. He said there was nothing to play with when he went to school. However, he said, there was a big tree with long branches. So, a bunch of the boys grabbed a branch and pulled it down. One of the boys got on it and they released it. The branch went back up in the air and the boy on it shot up even higher.

They also took hold of each others' hands and formed a long line, then they started running in a circle with the one on the inner end hardly moving. They kept going faster and faster. The ones on the outer end started being flung off. I think it was called Crack the Whip.

Chores and school

Uncle Doc told me one time that when they were in school, they had to get up early and do all the chores each morning before they left home. On a farm, this would mean milking the cows, feeding and watering all the animals, and maybe letting some out. I hope they weren't expected to cut out holes in the ice so a herd of cattle could drink. I'm thinking of farm chores.

No matter what the weather was, they had to walk to school. I don't know what school they went to -- maybe Darksville. Hickory didn't look that old.

At night they did the chores again.

Mom at school

Mom told me one time that she could run faster than anyone at her school. She also said she could climb trees. I guess this is what her school did.


When the East Fork got out, there was no way for us to get to school. I don't think it affected any other family.

Miss Hazel moved to Elmo Hudson's house beside the school while the weather was still good. Elmo and his wife had no children, but the teachers always stayed at their house thereafter.

I'm suspicious that the school board or just Daddy and Uncle Doc may have given them money to keep the teachers. Elmo Hudson and his wife were not known for their generosity. They were also a pain in the neck. Especially Elmo.

Mom bought blinds and curtains for all the windows at school. She bought a rod to run along the stage which covered one end of the room. Then she bought material for stage curtains. She sewed them and put gold colored rings on them so they could be drawn open and shut. Our family contributed all this.

There was no water, so a large water container (cooler) was bought.

Miss Hazel was young. She was tall with red shoulder length hair. She was actually a pretty nice teacher. I just did not want to be told what to do or to spend time away from home.

The sideboard at Sharon's house used to be in the living room on the farm. It had a square mirror on top. Miss Hazel used to come down, get on her knees in front of it and comb her hair. I have no idea why. She had a perfectly good mirror on top of a dresser in her room. Also, a very tall mirror on a dresser in the hall next to her room.

Box suppers

In the spring or fall, grade schools back home had a unique way of raising money. They had box suppers.

Each girl student had a box full of food that she shared with the person who bought it. The boxes had lids that were beautifully decorated with ribbons, flowers, anything that looked good. Parents and anyone else who was interested came, and the boxes were auctioned off and sold to the highest bidder.

Jean and I were in a panic even sharing a box with Roscoe. So Mom pointed out the boxes that Jean and I were taking to Daddy, Uncle Doc and Charley. They outbid anyone else.

The women who came also brought boxes. So did the teacher.

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