Something to hold on to...

"Today I am one day nearer home than ever before. One day nearer the dawning when the fog will lift, mysteries clear, and all question marks straighten up into exclamation points!
 I shall see the King!"     Vance Havner

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

"Aunt Silver Belle, tell me about when you were poor"

(This is the actual outhouse from my childhood.)

Many years ago, a delightful little brunette would climb on my lap and beg for stories about when I was poor. I thought it no big deal that I actually had the experience growing up of trekking to the outhouse in the middle of the night, or using the “thunder bucket” when the rain and winds prevented such a trip. I thought nothing of telling how my sister and I made our own paper dolls cut from old pattern catalogs, or that clothespins carefully placed around the perimeter of my skirt would be the perfect substitute for the fringe on a cowgirl’s costume, just like Dale Evans wore. I could see the wonder in this brunette’s eyes as I described the way I would swish that skirt back and forth to hear the clothespins dance.

This little girl would listen as I explained having to go outside to the pump and work the handle up and down to get water, and how we were fortunate to have a similar pump handle next to our kitchen sink as our only means of inside water. She loved having me describe lying in bed and watching the flames flicker inside the coal stove and seeing the glow reflected on the wall. The stories of her aunt sitting in a cold metal wash tub in the middle of the kitchen floor to take a bath and how Aunt Silver Bell’s mother would heat the water to just the right temperature would make her happy for her own warm baths.

She could not believe it when I would tell her that my family did not go out to eat, that a restaurant was for the rich, and that even the most popular fast food establishment was reserved for the rare trip to the south to visit family. That, only after begging our father to please let us have something to eat other than the cold ham sandwiches our mother had packed. Knowing his love for Coca-Cola, we were able to persuade him on a few rare occasions.

She loved the stories of how my sister and I would get excited when bags of clothes from who we thought were rich cousins would arrive. Cousins we had never really met, but whose mom was anxious to get rid of some old clothes. Clothes that we thought would elevate our standing to that of a rich kid. Clothes were magic that way.

Little brunette could not understand how my family could not afford snacks at the grocery. Basics were all my parents bought, and those only if they were on sale. My sweet tooth was satisfied by the occasional taste of powdered Jell-O, I would sneak from the cabinet. (I am convinced I should have invented Pixie-Stix)

Yes, Farm Wife, Aunt Silver Belle was poor. But I am rich in memories, which provided a vast amount of stories to tell that curious little brunette. Make memories for your own little ones; tell them all you remember about your childhood. You can even tell them about when Great Aunt Silver Belle was poor.


Anonymous said...

you made me cry Auntie Belle. Those are beautifu memories. Farm Wife and Inkling are so blessed to have you, and hear of your RICH memories of the past.

Much love to you

Farm Wife said...

Thank you so very much, Aunt Silver Belle! This brought back so many memories to me. I was so excited when I got the email of the outhouse! Someday you'll have to tell BabyGirl these stories.

lauren said...

Wow... thank you for sharing. :-)