Sunday, August 21, 2016

Long Line Of Memories

I remember an old dial up telephone hanging on the wall, a most useful asset back when we were small.

The first time we got one oh what a joy and delight, the first time it rung what an awful sight.

So many hands reaching for it at the same time, I thought to my soul we were gonna break the corded line.

That went on for quite a while, like a bunch of kids in a toy store, we'd look at each other and smile.

Something had to give and mama knew it quite well. She had to break up a fight everytime she heard the ringing of the bell.

She told us you gotta take turns and stop sitting around the phone, get outside and play it's not like it's each your own.

Then occasionally mama would answer it a time or two, but the first time daddy answered we all came unglued.

He picked up the receiver and said "YEAH" instead of hello. We all fell over laughing, after that "YEAH "was his motto.

Then one day mama said, what if the president calls here someday, and daddy said , he's not apt to I voted the other way.

We didn't have Caller ID back then, everybody knew each other and everybody was a neighbor or friend.

But after a few years things progressed quite a bit. We got what was called "The Party Line" and we had to sit and sit.

And wait until other people on line got their business over and done. Now that's when it really started, I'm talking about the fun.

Since more than one household was on the same line, we had to jump fast or waste alot of time.

Quietly we'd ease the receiver up close to our ear, if we heard the dial tone we'd jump into high gear.

But more often than not so and so was already on, talking about their aches and pains and then they'd start to moan and groan.

About how many nosey people there were now days and how they like to listen in on other people's business, believe me there was no praise.

Then sometimes we'd pick it up and hear "MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS AND WAIT YOUR TURN". Now you talk about biting your tongue and getting a face sunburn.

The few times we finally did get through somehow, we didn't talk long before someone spoke up and said, "I NEED THE PHONE NOW"

I guarantee it was the same two people all the time, on that we could always bet our last bottom dime.

These same people when we met up with somewhere, they'd act like the best people in the world and so unaware.

By now you get the point of what I'm trying to tell. In other words I can honestly say "The Party Line" wasn't so swell.

Until one day daddy came through the door, wanting us to call his old buddy that he talked to galore.

Daddy never knew how to dial the numbers right, we always did it for him but on this day it was one more sight.

I was in a hurry and quickly dialed the phone and never took the time to listen for a dial tone.

He put it up to his ear and said "YEAH" then after a few seconds passed  he said ," MERCY ME , YOU CAN'T EVEN USE THIS PHONE IN AN EMERGENCY".

Needless to say when I picked up again, I heard a dial tone and daddy talked for quite a while to his old friend.

After that we learned a new trick to having fun, we'd get daddy to pick up the receiver and all business was done.

To think we had to go through all of that back in the day. Telephones sure have come a long ways I can honestly say.

As for that old dial up telephone with the corded line, it sure did leave a long line of good and patient memories behind.

                                        © Susie Swanson, 2016

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Best Friends Forever

Back when we were young’uns we very seldom spent the night with our friends except in the warmer months. Mama claimed we’d catch our death of cold changing houses, lying on floors, etc. but when summer came we made up for it in more ways than one.

 I had some awesome friends that I grew up with and lived in the same neighborhood. After we all got our chores done we’d get together and hit the roads or trails walking. I had three girl friends that practically stayed at my house and what time they weren’t at my house I was at theirs. We made a pack many years before when we were small to be, “best friends forever.”

Two of them were twins and some said they couldn’t tell em apart but I never had any trouble cause I was around em so much. They had a younger sister that hung with us also. Both our mama’s tried to keep plenty of koolaide on hand on those hot, summer days when they got the chance. Back then they sold it with the sugar already in it and it came in big packs. We used to slip and open a pack and pour it out in our hand and lick it. We thought we were hiding it from mama but with our colored tongues, no such luck.

I liked staying at their house on the weekends. We’d build a big, bon fire and roast marshmallows and wieners come dark. Their mama always had a pitcher of koolaide on hand as well, and the darker it got the better we liked it by the light of that big fire.
We’d play records on a little record player mama had ordered us six young’uns  from the Spiegel catalog. We all cherished that little, record player. I’d take it with me every time I got the chance with instructions from mama that it was to be brought back in the same shape it left in, for the others to enjoy as well. She ordered it for all of us to enjoy but every chance I got I claimed it the most. We saved our money and bought those little forty five records, hardly ever could afford a big thirty three.
We’d get in the dancing mood and you name em we did em. We knew how to do such dances as the jerk, twist, etc. and it was the Go, Go dancing era. Mama had ordered me a pair of those black, shiny Go Go boots one winter. I didn’t care if it was hotter than a firecracker I’d wear those boots like I was in high style when it came to Go Go dancing.
We loved dancing to the Beatles and other similar groups and of course there was Elvis.

After we’d worn our tail ends out we’d go in and make pallets on the floor with quilts from the beds. We could have slept together in a bed but oh no, we all hit that hard floor. It didn’t matter that we had two or three quilts stacked on top of each other, that floor was hard as a rock. After rolling and tumbling on that hard floor all night and so sore we couldn’t move we’d make it to the breakfast table. After I ate my belly full I’d head towards home with the little, record player and come Friday or Saturday night we already had plans for another all nighter.

When we got together at my house we’d crank up that little, record player and start dancing in the middle of the yard. I can still hear mama today, “uns young’uns don’t need to larm the whole settlement.” We larmed the whole settlement at either place plenty of times.

 The main reason I liked dancing at their house the best was the fact that my brothers made fun of us at my house. They’d laugh their selves to death and we’d throw rocks at em but it didn’t do any good.

What time we wasn’t spending the night or all day at one another’s house playing records and dancing we'd hit the trail towards the store with that little dab of money burning holes in our pockets. You talk about living in hog heaven after we bought that moon pie or candy bar and RC , there was nothing like it. Sometimes we switched it out for some peanuts poured into the RC.

We had this one little trail that led to the main store that was stomped bare to the ground. A lot of others used it as well and it was the most used community trail of all. When we’d get back on the trail home we’d sit down on an old log and feast on our treats.

Shoot, we had so many trails made we never knew which one we’d take next. I can count at least five between my house and theirs. Both our mama’s always told us to be sure and take the trails and watch for snakes. We never did look for snakes cause the trails were to clean. They never had a chance to grow up and every trail we walked was a wooded path.

Times weren’t like they are now and we did hit the roads quite often. We seldom seen a vehicle and the ones we did see, was someone we knew. They knew better than to stop and ask us if we wanted a ride cause we enjoyed walking more. They just waved and motored on down the road.

I’ll never forget the time when word got out there was an escaped convict on the loose and everybody was on high alert. Both our mama’s told us we better not walk through those woods, he could be any place but we paid them no mind till one day they were walking me back home. We’d got half way through that wooded trail when we heard something strange behind us. You talk about running we did and the faster we ran the faster that convict ran behind us. We were scared in the inch of our lives and just knew that convict had us for sure. We came outta that trail and hit that road so fast it’d make ye head swim. We didn’t stop there, just kept on running and we didn’t take time to run across the footlog, we busted that little creek wide open and kept on running till we hit the front door faster than a cat could lick. We scared mama and the rest of em to death and we were so outta breath we couldn’t talk. By the time we opened our mouths to explain our ordeal, in walked the convict and he happened to be none other than my two oldest brothers laughing their tail ends off. We took off after their hides and ran em till they couldn’t get their breath and the whole time mama was standing on the porch hollering at us to stop. We all just fell on the ground we were so tired and when we got enough muster, we got up and went back towards the house. My brothers tried to beat us there so they could tell their version but mama caught the drift and she wore their legs out with a little, keen limb. I’ll never forget that episode.

We never did find out if they ever caught the real convict and we were vigilant for a while till the talk passed. I personally think the older folks just talked it to death to keep us young’uns on our toes and it worked for a while but it didn’t stop us from hitting the trails.

What time we weren’t walking through the trails and woods we played in the creek. Another girlfriend joined us as often as she could. She’d come and visit her sister quite often that happened to live up the road from me. Little did we both know that I’d end up marrying her brother one day and she’d marry my oldest brother. The enjoyment of being a young’un was all that was on our minds at the time and we made the most of it every chance we got and that creek was our place to be on a hot, summer day.

 We’d get on that footlog and jump in that creek like it was the biggest swimming hole to come along, although the water was only ankle high. But when we got tired of jumping in there we’d wade on up the creek in deeper waters. We always had a big swimming hole up there that we called, “The Ole Mill Pond.” It’d been there for many years and named after the ole gristmill my grandpa had below it many years before. We’d jump in that big pond and play all day long and go in home starved half to death.

We all found fun any time of the year, even in the winter when the first snowflakes started falling but we wasn’t allowed to spend the night with each other due to catching our death of cold. Plus we were in school, and on school nights it was early to bed and early to rise. That’s why we made the most of the warmer months.

I can honestly say those were the best times of our lives but everything comes to an end. Even those little trails has to grow back up some day.When the world opened up and we walked in, it was a far different world to what we’d come to know. “Best Friends Forever” are hard to forget and the childhood that created em.

                                              © Susie Swanson, 2016

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Dog Days And Weather Signs

The forty dog days of summer begins in the United States on July 3rd and end August 11th according to history and The Old Farmer’s Almanac. They’re so often said to be the hot, sultry days of summer, July and August being the two hottest months of the year.

The older generation had a lot of sayings about Dog Days. One being, “it’s dog days and snakes are blind, ye better be careful cause they’ll strike at anything that moves.” We surely did listen to that one cause we were reminded enough, especially while playing outside after dark or catching lightning bugs.

Another one is getting Dew Poisoning which means if you get a cut on your finger or hand and get the morning dew in it the cut will never heal. My daddy got dew poisoning one summer. He’d cut his finger with his pocket knife and was picking beans one morning and got dew in it and he went around all summer with his finger bandaged up and it finally healed come Fall. Mama told him, “ye know what done that and ye should have bandaged it up before ye hit the dew.”

 I heard daddy and mama say it was hard for a cut or any open wound to heal during dog days many times. This pertains to anything even getting one’s ears pierced. I got mine pierced in the summer months after I got up the nerve to have it done. Mama told me, “ye shouldn’t have done that. They’ll never heal.” I can honestly say she was right about that. I had one to get infected and I thought it was going to rot off. If it hadn’t been for lots of peroxide and alcohol and babying, I would have given up and let them grow up. I still have to baby my ears and bathe them in alcohol quite often. I very seldom take my ear rings out except to change them.

There were a lot of weather sayings as well and I don’t know if any of them pertains to dog days but thought I’d add a few.

Here’s one,
If you’re hoping for a nice, dry day check for dew on the ground

When the dew is on the grass
Rain will never come to pass
When grass is dry at morning light
Look for rain before the night

There’s also one that helps to tell what the weather is going to be pertaining to cattle and horses, which means if you see a cow or horse take notice of which way the wind is blowing their tails. Cows and horses prefer not to have the wind blowing in their faces so they usually stand with their backs to the wind.

Tails pointing west
Weather’s at it’s best
Tails pointing east
Weather is least

Summer fog means fair weather is on its way and you can look for a sunny day.

Summer fog for fair
A winter fog for rain
A fact most everywhere
In valley or on plain

And the one I like the most is,

If the rooster crows at going to bed
You may rise with a watery head

I just don’t know about this one but my mama sure hated to hear one crow at bedtime. She’d throw a rock at it every time just to get it to stop. She claimed it meant bad luck.

Just a little folk lore and I hope you enjoyed. I’ll try to post more later as they come to me.

 Thought I’d add a little poem for some humor as well, concerning the fogs in August because of the most heard one of all. “For every fog in August there will be a snow come winter.” This one is kinda worrying me this August cause we’ve had fog just about every morning so far.

I counted forty, foggy mornings in August
an old lady once said
I wondered how can this be
as I scratched my head

Thirty one days in August
 is all I’ve ever known
unless the calendar has changed
and the months have grown

I worked so very hard
to try and figure it all in
But the forty, foggy mornings
I didn’t know where to begin

And then I thought to myself
and I came up with a good try
When summer’s heat lingers on
there’s forty, hot days in July

In January’s snowy weather
there’s at least forty flakes
that lies on the ground
forty days for goodness sakes

How can I forget March
with so many windy days
The wind probably blows forty
I just don’t count the days

No, that can’t be right
I thought to myself
When thirty one days are gone
in a month, there’s none left

So I’ll just keep on waiting
August has just come in
If there’s forty, foggy mornings
Will winter ever end??

© Susie Swanson, 2016

Monday, August 1, 2016

That Old Wooden Chair

 That old wooden chair was his favorite spot to be
Sitting in the sunshine in the warmth of the day
Looking out across the land he loved so much
It stirred up memories that carried him away

He always took pride in those big cornfields
 He plowed from sun up to sun down
There’s nothing left but underbrush now
Nary a stalk of corn planted in the ground

Those fields made good corn back in the day
He hauled many a load to the gristmill
Even if it took him all day in that wagon
On an old gutted out road, most of it uphill

He always tried to share his bounty with others
Everyone wasn’t fortunate to have a good year
Even the stalks made for good fodder
That livestock sure did make it disappear

There was always plenty of planting going on
Whether it be corn or gardens growing so kind
Had to eat come summer or winter
Everything was canned, nothing was left behind

Even before the harvest had time to come in
He thought about winter and what it would bring
He had to keep the home fires burning, or else
If the weather got to bad and firewood got lean

He’d been all over those mountains and hills
Cutting and snaking out wood, it was the only way
That old mule knew how to work hard
He sure could pull that sled on any given day

One can never have enough wood to burn
In the winter when the sun sets low in the sky
Back when he was young and strong
Work was a pleasure, he could never deny

He could still hear those cherished words
Come on home now, it’s suppertime
He’d grab a dipper of cold, spring water
A sure cure for a hot thirst every time

Sitting on the porch in that old wooden chair
With his sweetheart, wife and best friend
Meant more to him than anything in the world
Oh how he yearned to do it all over again

There’s that pretty little grove of apple trees
Been there many a year, and so content
She helped to plant them, they brought a smile
Even with their trunks so bowed and bent

Her pretty flowers still bloomed in the spring
He always told her she had a green thumb
More beauty than an old man’s heart could hold
He’d soon see her, she was waiting for him to come

Awe, it sometimes brought tears knowing
Time and circumstance had left him behind
Yearning for the things he’d lost and loved
 Made him feel like he wasn’t worth a dime

He knew his life’s work was over and done
Remembering those bygone days brought a smile
They sure knew how to lift an old man’s spirits
From the warmth of that chair, if only for a while

Today the old house is so empty and quiet
 Nary a sound but the mantle clock’s tick
Plenty of reminders in every nook and crack
Over in the corner is that little walking stick

The sun still shines on that little window seat
The little birds sing but there’s no one to hear
So much nostalgia and loneliness left behind
In the heart of that old wooden chair

 © Susie Swanson, 2016

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

In Memory Of My friend

Today we are mourning the loss of our dear friend and neighbor Helen Lowery.
After a four, month, courageous battle with Stage Four Lung Cancer her fight ended late yesterday evening, July 26th just two days before my birthday. Four months ago this beautiful lady was healthy as could be. She was going to the gym, walking her dogs, active in her church, on jury duty, etc.  We watched her pass by our house every day or walk in our door with that beautiful, trademark smile on her face that always cheered me up on my darkest days. She was always bringing me something or just stopping by to chat a while and it made my day. 

She’s always been one of my biggest supporters besides God and my husband throughout my long term sickness, my writing and anything else that went on in my life. She’s always been there to help in any way possible and bring sunshine to a cloudy day, even if it was to call and check on me or bring me something I could eat.

Besides my husband she was my biggest supporter when it came to my writing. Every poem or story that I’ve ever written has been passed by her after my husband read it. They were always my first two critics. She always called me the Poet Laurete of the Community, LOL. She always had so much encouragement and instilled in me that I could do anything I set my mind to do.

She taught school for 26 plus years in the state of Florida before she retired as she called it, but she never did retire. She kept on teaching all along her life’s journey. She helped many get their GED (High School Equivalency) for many years at our local community college and she even tutored others on the side and in her spare time. There’s no telling how many lives this lady has touched along the way in one way or another and all of her students including me will never forget her and the time she put forth to make us all feel worthy and deserving.

She was an avid supporter of my Blog and frequented it quite often and always sung high praises for my work. She was the one that proof read my first book and would have done the second one if I’d asked her. She always said, “I’m never to busy to help in any way I can.”

She was so active in her church and her community and gave God the Glory for everything in her life and was a huge inspiration to us all. After she found out she had Lung Cancer she encouraged us all by her words and her attitude. She told me she had laid it in God’s Hands and what would he think if she picked it back up. She put her full trust in him to handle it and that he did. The day she told me it gave me a different attitude towards my own sickness in ways I can’t explain.

She was so proud of her family and her face would light up like a Christmas tree when she talked about them. She loved all of them so much and was their biggest supporter. She loved her husband so much and stood by his side and they were like two, newlyweds. If she’d lived till September they would have celebrated their 58th Anniversary. What a blessing to have someone in your life that long.

 She talked a lot about her son Bryan and his untimely death and her daughter in law Belinda, her daughter Michelle, her granddaughter Jenny and her husband Daniel and her little, great granddaughter Zoe. Every time Jenny sent her pictures of Zoe in an email she’d forward them on to me to have copies as well. I have a whole folder of little Zoe from the time she was born till now. I’ve watched her grow so much in the almost three short years of her life and I cherish them so much. She and her husband Marvin have always said they thought of us as family and we’d tell them we felt the same. She was as close as a blood sister to me. 

We’re so used to seeing her pass by our house or knock at the door or hear her voice on the phone. It’s so sad and lonely not to have that honor anymore but we know she’s in a better place than us and her suffering and heartaches are over but our lives will never be the same without her.

Now her family needs us more than ever. She was such a loving wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother, friend, neighbor and mentor and we’ll never forget her. She left a legacy behind and some mighty, big shoes to fill.
We’re all so Blessed God placed her in our lives to bring us so many blessings and happiness if for a time. I know our hearts are saddened today but I can hear her now, “don’t cry for me, rejoice and I’ll see you soon.”

We Love You Helen and we will see you soon and we are forever grateful for your friendship, love and examples you set before us. You taught us well my friend. 

                                    With Love Always, Susie

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Down An Old Dirt Road

Old country roads remind me of walking to church come Sunday morning and walking back come Sunday night. They remind me of walking to the little country store with mama's list in hand. Those early morning walks to catch the school bus and walking back in home at end of day, stopping long enough take our shoes off and wade across the little creek come warm weather, is priceless.

The fresh morning smells of honeysuckle, wild roses, mountain laurel or crabapple blossoms drifting in the spring time air, or walking in those big snows that were knee deep in the winter, rolling in the snow and throwing snowballs at each other along the way.

Taking refuge under a big tree come a hard, summer's rain and still taking a wetting and loving it to no end. Then we ran through mud holes with our bare feet, busting em wide open, never thinking about getting the toe itch till it was to late.

Ahhhh, how can I forget the huckleberries and that sweet taste. We knew exactly where they came up and picked em fast as they ripened, along side the road.

And those delicious blackberries we picked for mama to can and looking forward to that fresh blackberry cobbler, all the while eating more than we picked. Never thinking twice about the chiggers or poison ivy till it was to late.

Climbing over barbed wire fences and ripping our clothes to pick poke salat for mama. She didn't take to kindly to the ripped clothes or the dangers of getting snake bit but the poke salat changed the subject really quick.

  Riding an ole, rusted bicycle around every curve and bend, with nary a brake knowing we'd hit the ditch or the creek. It's a wonders we hadn't broke our neck or worse.

And trying to outrun the others to get the mail every day and stumping our toes along the way. They never did have a chance to heal. When cold weather settled in and we had to wear shoes we'd still hobble down those ole roads.

I couldn’t count how many trips we made to and fro carrying gallons of milk from the neighbors when we were between cows, hungry for some good cornbread and milk to go along with supper, sometimes making a complete meal out of it.

 And how can I forget taking a few poufs off of a cigarette butt after snatchin it outta the yard when daddy threw it down. Ahhhh, the sickness and turning green that followed, I'd sure like to forget and is still a reminder today. I said then and there, "never again.” Whewww.

It didn't matter the season or the weather, we made memories to last a lifetime and those ole dirt roads paved the way.

There's so many memories that still linger. I go back quite often and listen to the echoes of a childhood full of many seeds that's been sowed. How can we ever forget an old dirt road.

                                               © Susie Swanson, 2016

Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Old Country Store

She’s seen many a season come and go
That old country store was one of a kind
Those big welcome doors were always open
It was the place to go and buy on time

A watering hole for the community
Meeting up with the locals was a daily trend
They traded many stories and bartered too
A way of life they all came to depend

A weekly, anticipated trip to the that old store
To pick up supplies or pay on a bill
Was a pleasure that could never be denied
To everyone that came, it was certainly a big deal

 Wagons carried chickens, eggs and cream
That good homemade butter was the best of all
For a pound of coffee, sugar, a sack of flour
They were all in it for the long haul

Many rabbits came straight from the traps
In exchange for tobacco or a Christmas gift
Those big bolts of yard goods looked so good
To the women folks, their spirits did lift

Oh how those candy jars stood out the most
Sitting on the counter so large and tall
That array of penny candy sure looked tasty
Plenty of children would still recall

Or those big barrels sitting in the corner
Filled with pickles, potatoes or seed
With a little extra money in the pockets
A chance for some much needed chicken feed

That old pot bellied stove sitting in the middle
 Became a familiar sight for all to see
Always surrounded by a couple of chairs
And the famous spittoon and its popularity

And that old building acquired so many names
The local post office was in the back
Many jobs for the proprietor surely did grow
Even an undertaker, nothing did he lack

That weathered old building gave so much
A useful, old place where wonders never cease
Where skills became plentiful for pulling teeth
Or when the need arose, justice of the peace

The welcome sign was always there
From the time they entered till closing of day
 A busy, old place filled with warmth and cheer
Open Monday through Saturday, closed on Sunday

Now it sits empty and feels so all alone
Knowing things will never be like it was before
Where many came and went and the living was good
And anything could be found at the old country store

© Susie Swanson 2016