Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Not A Care In The World

Every year when fall starts coming in with that little,cool nip in the air and the skies are crystal, clear and blue as far as the eye can see, it takes me back to some good memories of those long ago falls, when we didn’t have a care in the world.

Having to hit the ole school bus after tromping through the thickets all summer wasn’t something we looked forward to but after we got back into the groove of things we found it wasn’t so bad after all, till we got the yellow bus fever. We found out the hard way after crying wolf a few times, it doesn’t work.
Mama used to say she wished school went the whole year round. But that was because we worried the daylights out of her.
I asked her one time what worrying the daylights out of her meant and she told me it meant driving her crazy as a bess bug and since we were always into one thing after the other, it was no wonders she had so many gray hairs in her head. I never did ask her what a bess bug was.

They had some funny, ole sayin’s back then but we grew up listening to em so much we took em at what they meant, not what they said.

Every year when the remnants of the garden were gone and mama had canned everything she could including the leftovers from which she made the chow chow, ( man was that stuff good with a big pot of pinto beans )  the whole family pitched in and took up all the taters and carried em to the tater hole. Daddy and the boys would get busy clearing off the patches before cold weather set in. They’d be nice and clean come spring when garden planting time came in.

They’d pile all the corn stalks, bean vines, etc. in a big pile in the middle of the patch. Sometimes they’d have to make two or three piles. Us young’uns could hardly wait till daddy decided to burn em. That’d usually come on a nice calm night or late evening when the wind was still. He always said it was better to wait till after a good rain and the ground was kinda damp. He worried about catching the woods on fire. He’d only burn one brush pile at a time and let the others go till later on.
If we were lucky we’d manage to save a little money and have some marshmallows to roast. We sure did look forward to playing in that fire and roasting marshmallows.
Mama would scold us by saying, “every one of ye is gonna wet the bed tonight, playing in that fire.” I don’t remember any of us ever wetting the bed but it sure got me to thinking sometimes. Just another ole saying to get us out of the fire .
We loved to poke at it with sticks and throw a little kindling on it as we called it. The longer that fire burned and the higher the flames, the more we liked it.
It’d smolder all night even after daddy got it burnt down enough to risk leaving it till morning.

Before we had to leave to catch the school bus come morning we’d run back out to the smoldering fire, grab a stick and poke some more till mama’d put us down the road before we missed the bus. She said, “uns are gonna ruin your clothes and they’ll smell like smoke all day long.” We were used to that since we had wood heat in the winter we smelled of smoke anyways, didn’t bother us none.

All the brush piles would be burnt by frost and we had to figure out other ways to have fun. We never did have to look far. We made up our own fun as we went along.

We always had to walk out to the main road a purty good ways to catch the school bus. We’d dare one another to stick their tongue to the mailbox on a frosty morning. It’d freeze our tongue to it and it was hard to get lose without pulling the skin off. One morning my youngest brother stuck his to it just about the time the bus came and he tried to get it lose and finally had to jerk it off. When we all got on the bus I looked at him and he was close to tears but wouldn’t let on. I knew he was hurting something fierce.
After that happened and mama and daddy found out about it they put a stop to it in a big way, or so they thought.

When the weather came in even more cold and daddy was home and not off working he’d walk out with us to the road and build us a fire so we could get warm. He’d tote a little kindling out and just enough wood to get it going good so we could warm our hands and when the bus run he’d be the one to put it out before he went back to the house.
My oldest brother kept on till he talked daddy into letting him build it and it’d save him walking out with us. Daddy didn’t take much to that idea at first but he finally gave in. I’m sure he came along behind us and checked on it after we caught the bus.

My brother was always good at building fires in the wood heater and cook stove and he could build a nice little fire, if I say so myself. The only problem was, when the bus came one or two of the other boys like to kick it and send that fire sailing.
After a couple times of doing this, it all came to a kietis and we had to do without a fire. It’s a thousand wonders it hadn’t caught the woods on fire or worse.

When the first snowflakes started falling we jumped for joy. We loved the big snows that came in knee deep. We’d get outta school quite a while. One time I remember schools shutting down for two weeks. It was all we could do to plow through it to get to the barn to feed the cow or to milk, but that didn’t stop us.
All we had to put on our hands was an ole pair of worn out socks. We were in one door and out the other. We’d throw snowballs at one another, make snowmen and slide down the hill in the cow pasture on anything we could find. Sometimes it’d be an ole piece of cardboard or if we were lucky an ole car hood. It’s a wonders we didn’t all get killed with all the chances we took.
We’d run inside long enough to warm up and eat a bite and back out we’d go. We’d eat enough snow cream to get the sore throat but as for playing outside in the cold it never hurt us none. We were used to it come spring, summer, fall or winter.

 Some of the stuff we got into and done may not seem like much fun to some but we were just a bunch of young’uns having the best of times and enjoying the simple pleasures in life and putting more and more gray hairs on our mama’s head.
There was always plenty to do and we never had a care in the world.

                                 © Susie Swanson, 2016

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