Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Making Do





My mama came from a family of ten kids, two girls and eight boys. She grew up in a close, knit family that believed in working fer ye keep and learning early on how to survive and get by. Many times she told how they survived the depression and made do with whatever they had.

Back then everybody grew their own food but the basics were hard to come by. During the depression they gave out coupons and they’d pick em up at the little local store. The storekeeper would hand em out each month according to how many was in a family. He always had to keep records of what he handed out fer the government. He helped people out a lot too. They’d bring their canned goods in and exchange em for something they needed. There was always someone in need and he knew he would be able to get rid of it all.

Mama said most of the time they’d just get a couple pounds of coffee to do a month or five or ten pounds of flour, and a bucket of lard with their coupons. If they were lucky to get an extra coupon they’d get a small bag of sugar or an extra five pounds of flour. The flour came in cloth sacks and their mother saved them up and sewed them into dresses and shirts.

 Mama said that grandma would boil the same coffee grounds over and over till that coffee was so thin ye could see through it. Even after the depression started easing up and grandpa went to work fer the WPA and they had a little more to live on grandma was still in the saving mode and kept boiling the coffee grounds over and over. My grandpa got tired of it and told her one day, now Sarie (Sarah) stop boiling them coffee grounds over so much. What ye doing, straining it through a white rag, you can stop now I want some real coffee not stained water. It was hard for grandma to change, she’d been in the saving business to long.

They always had plenty of cornmeal for bread since they grew the corn and grandpa carried big toe sacks to my other grandpa’s old grist mill every week. She said they only used the flour for breakfast cause they sure did love them cathead biscuits and gravy. There was many a morning they had to eat cornbread with their gravy cause they didn’t have any flour. Of course, cornmeal gravy and cornbread is the best eatin around.

She and her brothers used to trap rabbits and take them to the little country store in exchange for some of the basics they needed. This was after they cleaned the rabbits up good and the head had to stay on them. My grandma knew exactly what the rabbits were worth by how many they had caught. He paid by the pound and she knew it. She’d make out a list of what she needed and send them to the store to fill it.

One time she and one of her brother’s that was the closest to her in age caught ten rabbits and took off towards the store with the rabbits on a stick and grandma’s list. On the way to the store her brother told her we’re gonna get us somethin good today. Mama told him, no we can’t cause mommy knows exactly how many rabbits we got, she’s made her list. He stuck his hand up under his coat and pulled out another rabbit. He said, I told you we’re gonna get us somethin good today. The only problem was the rabbit didn’t have a head. Apparently, while they were cleaning them one lost its head someway and he’d stuck it under his coat. The storekeeper always wanted them with their heads intact. He had a little shed over to the side of the store building that people hung their rabbits in.

When they got to the store and hung their rabbits they went in and told him how many they had and gave him their list. He walked outside and went in and looked at the rabbits from the door and counted them. He said, somebody’s counted wrong this time, you’ve got eleven instead of ten.
 Mama said her brother spoke up and said alrighty, we got enough to get us somethin good this time. The storekeeper told him ye sure do, so pick out what ye want. Her brother pointed to a big jar of candy sitting on the counter and said we want a whole, paper bag of that candy. He filled their list and the bag of candy and they headed home. The candy was chocolate drops and can still be bought today, especially around Christmas time and they’re rich as can be.

On the way home they eat the whole bag of chocolate drops and by the time they got home they were sicker than a buzzard. They started puking and they puked all night. My grandma didn’t know what in the world to think. She was up with em all night trying to clean up the messes and do what she could fer em.
The next morning they felt and looked like death warmed over. When grandma seen they were on the mend she asked em what did they eat to get so sick. They’d been taught all of their life not to lie and knew if they did they’d be in worse shape than they already were so they told her the truth. She marched them back over the road to the store and made em tell the storekeeper what they’d done. He just stood there and looked at em fer a bit and then he spoke up and said, well I guess they’ve been punished enough this time but it better not happen again.
From that day forward they didn’t take another rabbit without its head and they never eat another chocolate drop as long as they lived.


To say times were rough is an understatement but they survived the best way they knew how and mama said they never went to bed hungry a night in their life. They always had something to eat even if it was an old possum baked in the oven. I guess that’s why she hated the sight of an ole possum. Back then times were so hard they had to make do.

                                          © Susie Swanson, 2015

The picture above is my mom, her daddy and mama back when she was young. 
Notice how tall the corn is. Blessings, ~Susie

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Finest I've Ever Seen





                                          We no longer raise gardens, chickens and hogs
                                          No more smoking chimneys, we now use gas logs

                                          There's no more hog killings on Thanksgiving Day
                                          Only turkeys and hams grace the tables today

                                          We no longer carry water in for the night
                                          There's plenty of running water and baths delight

                                          There's no more sitting by an old oil lamp
                                          A light hangs from the ceiling, an electric revamp

                                          No more traveling preachers, a thing of the past
                                          Big new churches, log churches are in the past

                                          There's no more Store Truck making its way through
                                          Like kids in a candy store, we stood like a statue

                                          An orange and an apple used to be a Christmas treat
                                          Now days electronics are the only thing that's neat

                                         Keeping a milk cow and churning our own buttermilk
                                         They now snarl their nose if its not store bought milk

                                         There's not many clothes now blowing in the wind
                                         We now have clothes dryers and washers that spin

                                         No one takes time to visit their neighbors or the sick
                                         My daddy's not here with his big walking stick

                                        The canning and jelly making days are almost gone
                                         Just a few old timers left to carry on

                                        There's no one left to cure the thrash (Thrush) anymore
                                        My mama's gone and her cure is no more

                                        There's no more prayer and recess in school
                                        It seems everything now has become man's rule

                                        Those old aporns they wore with money tucked away
                                        Is gone too, like their hair tucked in buns of gray

                                        And those old time zinnas my grandma so loved
                                        They now grace heaven with beauty and love

                                        There's no more plowing with an old mule now
                                        They use big tractors but that old mule sure could plow

                                        There's no more hunting foxes, possums and coons
                                        And sitting by a campfire listening to the dogs croon

                                        That good squirrel gravy and dumplins I still smell
                                        My mama sure could make them so yummy and swell

                                        There's no more sleeping with six in the bed
                                        With three at the foot and three at the head

                                        And sweeping the yard with a worn out broom
                                        Praying for some grass to grow really soon

                                        There's no more swinging on those old grapevines
                                        Or playing hopscotch in the sand with hand drawn lines

                                        There's no more crawling through the barbed wire fence
                                        Trying to escape the bull, we didn't have any sense

                                        Playing in the cold creek was a summer time game
                                        Claiming to fall in on a winter's morning wasn't the same

                                        Going fishing at the old mill pond with fishing pole in hand
                                        Losing track of time, the fishing was so grand

                                        Helping mama find Poke Salad in the early spring
                                        Climbing through the briars and snakes was her thing

                                        Or picking creesy greens from the creek bank each year
                                        Not knowing the difference with mama not here

                                        Going to bed with the chickens on hot summer days
                                        No time change did we have, we got used to the same ways

                                        There's no more robbing the hen's nest in the early morn
                                        Those old hens sure could lay, fed good with corn

                                        Those wonderful old days I loved and once knew
                                         Is now gone and the old ways too

                                        The living was so good, the finest I've ever seen 
                                         I love to go back it makes my heart sing

                                            © Susie Swanson, 2015

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Mama's Gift







I remember while growing up my mama doing some heroic and awesome things that I couldn't quite understand at the time. But as I grew older and learned from watching her it came to me so clear that she knew what she was doing without a doubt. She taught me so much over the years and set examples for all of us to live by. Like so many others she knew and used a lot of home remedies that still sticks in my mind today but there's one thing she could do that I never could do is cure the Thrash (Thrush). It’s a fungal infection of the mouth that can be caused by many things. It comes with blisters on the tongue, inside the lips and can spread to the outside of the mouth on the lips and all around it.

 I remember so many people coming to our house for the much needed cure. Some were young'uns at the time or they brought their young'uns, and there's lots of grownups out there as well that still to this day remembers mama’s cure very well. It was always a secret on how she performed the actual cure and mama always said if anyone knew it wouldn’t work.

A lot of the people that came had been to the doctor to no avail. Mama would look in their mouth and be able to tell them what kind it was by what color the blisters were. There's three types, red, white and yellow. Daddy had the job of bringing in the medicine but like everyone else he never knew what she did. He knew where it grew and how much to get but he played shut mouth his whole life and mama wouldn’t have it any other way.
I saw her carry many a baby in the bedroom and bring it back out and it'd be smiling cause mama always had a way of pacifying young'uns. When it came to treating the grownups she’d put a blindfold on them so they couldn't see and I can attest to that cause one evening we were out in my back yard and I told her my mouth was sore and had been getting worse by the day. She looked in my mouth and slipped across the creek on our little foot log and came back and blindfolded me and I never felt or seen anything and needless to say, it got better. Shucks, I remember her taking my son when he was a toddler into the corn patch one day and treating him. 

She always told everyone that on the third day after she did it, it would get worse but should get better, if not come back and she'd do it again. I know one older lady that came three times cause it had went all the way through her and she'd wore herself out running to the doctors, then she heard about mama. It finally worked and she praised mama till the day she died.

 Mama even went to them when they were to sick to come to her due to other ailments. There were a couple of ladies that had just got through with chemo treatments and their mouths were turned wrong side out. She treated them and they got better. Mama was so honored to help them and anyone else that came along.
 Mama's cure became so popular her own doctor started sending his Thrash (Thrush) patients to her after he learned about it. But unlike him, she never charged a dime cause she said if she did it wouldn't work.

Yes, it got mighty tiring for her but she never complained or turned anyone down till she got down so sick herself with cancer. It hurt her so bad not to not be able to do the things she loved and had done all of her life. It's so sad that there wasn't a cure to be found for her but mama is now healed and living in a new, pain, free body. When mama left us she left some mighty, big shoes to fill and we may not be able to do all the things she did but her Legacy of love and giving will go with us the rest of our days.

Genuine faith is the faith that works by love and purifies the soul. A living faith will be a working faith.


                                            © Susie Swanson, 2015

Monday, August 3, 2015

Reminiscing






When I look at these beautiful mountains surrounding me and these old roads I've traveled down, I think of the many memories made every time my feet hit the ground.

It may not mean much to some but it's worth more than money can buy. An old country girl having lived the good life and praising God until I die.

So many paths I've taken, my yearning heart has always brought me back, to this grand old place where the simple life is still intact.

Walking down a little trail to my grandparents house many a yesterday. Helping grandma with her canning, peeling peaches, apples and anything else I could get into made my day.

Slipping down below their house to the little plum tree. My goodness those plums were sweet as could be even when I had to shake the tree.

Even after I became a teenager I walked that little trail many a time. Just to sit, talk and listen awhile, brought so much joy to my heart and peace to my mind.

Sitting in that little porch swing listening to them talk about their yesterdays, really stuck with me and shaped me in so many ways.

Then after I went to work and had a little money to spend, I couldn't wait to take them a present every now and then.

One Christmas in particular I bought Pa a brand new pair of Hush Puppy Shoes. Christmas Eve was his birthday and it was even more special. He sure did love those shoes.

Of course I never did leave grandma out, she always thought of me. I sure did love those cathead biscuits she kept in the little cabinet, I ate one everytime I got the opportunity.

Me and my girlfriends flattened out many a trail, since we walked quite often to the store. We surely did enjoy it when we got a little money, we let the hammer down even more.

A few pennies in our pockets, burning the most you ever seen. That RC and Moon pie sure did taste good when you save your money by working in between.

There wasn't many hills and trails we didn't manage to find, and plenty of trails that wasn't there until we made our own kind.

And the pleasure of walking down an old dirt road, picking wildflowers and the smell of honeysuckles and looking at my other Little Ma's roses that she planted and growed.

She planted those roses clear across the country side, a legacy that keeps on giving. Every spring when I see those roses I think of her and it feels like a part of her is still living.

And my other grandpa I never had the privilege to know. He died before I was born but there's a big part of him that I see everywhere I go.

I can hear his voice and see his face in that little gristmill he owned. Today I live on the very spot where all the gristmill commotion went on.

My grandpa's not gone, I've wrote about him before. He's still alive today in my heart and the echoes I hear everytime I walk out the door.

And his blood and grit will always run through my veins. His strength and determination became what I am today. I can still see him down every road, trail and lane.

There's so many places I've walked, especially to church with a whole gang tagging along. Made me feel quite big, brave and strong.

Oh how I loved those night time revivals, they made me happy as a lark. Even though I was scared to death of those haints that everyone told about lurking around after dark.

So many scary stories were told by so many older folks around. A headless woman, a crying baby, it's no wonder we thought the booger man was after us everytime our feet hit the ground.

One would think after coming straight from church after being renewed we wouldn't have been so scared of the booger man waiting to perch.

We were all scared of our shadow if the truth be told. But it didn't stop us one bit from being out after dark, we acted really grown up and bold.

Even on Halloween we'd walk a mile or two for one piece of candy. Now days kids doesn't think walking is much fun and to be honest it ain't to smart and dandy.

And playing outside was the only video games we knew. Sometimes our imagination got the best of us and we got into trouble a time or two.

Throwing rocks and accidentlly hitting one another in the head. Knowing fully well we could have killed someone, we paid the price when we hit the bed .

It's like the old saying, I threw a rock at my brother and I got there first and so did my mother.

And we rode an old bicycle without any brakes, flying through the air, briars brambles and snakes.

It's a wonder we ain't all dead but it was not meant to be. Kids being kids, curious and free. But our daddy and mama didn't agree.

My mama bless her heart we just about drove her crazy sometimes. She once said, we wouldn't have made it if The Good Lord hadn't been watching over us all the time.

But now when I look back upon it all and remember when, I wish a thousand times I could do it all over again.

Well most of it anyway, some I'd rather forget. Like the time I almost died trying out my grandma's sweet snuff, I might as well have been dead.

And maybe all the times I hit my brothers over the head with a broom. Nay, They deserved it and so much more, that's certainly a presume.

But that was just our way of showing that we loved one another. It may sound odd to some but it was our way of looking out for one another. Of course we tried to convince our mother.

In all honesty, our daddy and mama taught us right from wrong. We may not have had many material things but in our house God and Love was mighty strong.

Our clothes may have looked ragged and worn but mama always said, rags are honorable as long as they're clean and she made sure of that every wash day morn.

I carried many buckets of water from that little spring, filling up those big wash tubs on wash day and taking baths to keep clean.

Those big wash tubs had two handles, one on each side and we'd set them in the sun. It was a sure way of having warm water to take baths when the day was done.

We considered ourselves lucky since the spring was close by in the back yard. Some had to carry their water a lot farther and up hills, bound to been hard.

I'll never forget the little dipper that hung up above the spring on a limb. Nothing like a drink of cold, spring water on a hot, summer day from the little dipper, it sure was a gem.

Especially after hoeing in the garden since the break of dawn. Running for that dipper of water and going inside for dinner (lunch) eating them fresh veggies, fresh grown.

After a long day at school, a piece of cornbread and a little green onion tasted really good. All part of an old country girl's life and childhood.

Carrying milk home from the neighbors when we got without a cow. We could drink a gallon a day and buttermilk to, if mama would allow.

I remember churning that buttermilk all day in that churn jar. Thought to my soul my arms were gonna fall off. It took that butter a long time to come to the top of that jar.

Awe, there's so many things I could write about. I feel like a queen sitting on her throne, without a doubt.

And when the echoes start calling me back to my past, I listen and tell my stories , fresh as the morning dew on the green grass. It rekindles my heart to go back to that wonderful, old past.

And there's nothing that I'll ever forget or leave behind. An old country girl living in a country world where God hung the moon, stars, and sun out to shine

                                                        © Susie Swanson, 2015

Monday, July 27, 2015

Old Barns and Old People



I hope ya'll enjoy this video as much as I do.. Be sure your Speakers are on before you click it..

Thanks, ~Susie

Grandpa, Ole Buddy and Me




Time moved much slower back then
Me and grandpa made sure of that
There was always plenty of time for a nap
When summer turned up the thermostat

The leaves rustling in the warm breeze
Laying in the shade of that old oak tree
We spent many a warm summer afternoon
Resting up for the next fishing spree

Chomping at the bits we could hardly wait
To dig those worms and grab that pole
The best memories were surely made
Sitting on the bank of that old fishing hole

Grandpa would use his old hat for a fan
All the while, telling his stories and tales
He taught me a lot about life in general
While fishing and walking down those pig trails

Awe, our ole dog Buddy, I’ll never forget
Every now and then he’d breakaway
On most days, he wore himself plum out
Oh how he loved to run and play

Running through those thickets and briars
He’d chase those rabbits all day long
Then he’d come and lay down beside us
Those rabbits knew how to string him along

So many things to do and places to be
And we never missed an opportunity
To explore the world and lay in the shade
Grandpa, Ole Buddy and me

© Susie Swanson,2015

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Old Barn






                                                 There's an old barn
                                                 sitting all silent and still
                                                 what a story it could tell
                                                 out there in that big, open field

                                                 Back when times were different
                                                 there were alot of things going on
                                                 to look at the old barn today
                                                 no one would never have known

                                                 It was very fond of the cows
                                                 that used to all gather in
                                                 when it came milking time
                                                 and the milk they were willing to lend

                                                 Oh those pesky chickens
                                                 they were always running around
                                                 looking to build their nests
                                                 for then they were homeward bound

                                                 It could never forget the horses
                                                 that each evening had to be fed
                                                 especially during the winter
                                                 before they were put to bed

                                                 Oh how it loved the children
                                                 when they used to come and play
                                                 up in that big, old hayloft
                                                 each and everyday

                                                 There the old rope is still hanging
                                                  they used to swing on that old thing
                                                  with all their child-like noise
                                                  what joy it did bring

                                                  The old barn surely did feel needed
                                                   in that other place and time
                                                   it seems so sad today
                                                   just to walk away and leave it behind
       
                                                   In my mind I'll hold on to the picture
                                                   when I walk through that big, old door
                                                   then it'll stay with me forever
                                                   and never be forgotten anymore

                                                    © Susie Swanson, 2015

This is one I wrote and published in my first book, "Rhymes Of My life" back in 2010.. I know alot of you have read this but it came to mind when I posted the video up at the very top on the right.. You will see it just above my Book info.. If ya'll would like to watch it just click on it and it should pop up... It's called, "Old Barns and Old People"  It brings tears to my eyes every time I watch it.. I hope you enjoy .. God Bless, ~Susie