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.
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.
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.
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.
all night even after daddy got it burnt down enough to risk leaving it till
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.
happened and mama and daddy found out about it they put a stop to it in a big
way, or so they thought.
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.
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.
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.
always plenty to do and we never had a care in the world.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
hoping for a nice, dry day check for dew on the ground
When the dew
is on the grass
never come to pass
is dry at morning light
rain before the night
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.
means fair weather is on its way and you can look for a sunny day.
And the one
I like the most is,
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
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
I wondered how can this
Thirty one days in
unless the calendar has
and the months have
to try and figure it all
But the forty, foggy
I didn’t know where to
And then I thought to
and I came up with a
When summer’s heat
there’s forty, hot days
In January’s snowy
there’s at least forty
forty days for goodness
The wind probably blows
I just don’t count the
When thirty one days are
in a month, there’s none
So I’ll just keep on
If there’s forty, foggy
That old wooden chair was his favorite spot to
Sitting in the sunshine in the warmth of
Looking out across the land he loved so
It stirred up memories that carried him
He always took pride in those big cornfields
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
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
He always tried to share his bounty with
Everyone wasn’t fortunate to have a good
Even the stalks made for good fodder
That livestock sure did make it disappear
There was always plenty of planting going
Whether it be corn or gardens growing so
Had to eat come summer or winter
Everything was canned, nothing was left
Even before the harvest had time to come
He thought about winter and what it would
He had to keep the home fires burning, or
If the weather got to bad and firewood got
He’d been all over those mountains and
Cutting and snaking out wood, it was the
That old mule knew how to work hard
He sure could pull that sled on any given
One can never have enough wood to burn
In the winter when the sun sets low in the
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
With his sweetheart, wife and best friend
Meant more to him than anything in the
Oh how he yearned to do it all over again
There’s that pretty little grove of apple
Been there many a year, and so content
She helped to plant them, they brought a
Even with their trunks so bowed and bent
Her pretty flowers still bloomed in the
He always told her she had a green thumb
More beauty than an old man’s heart could
He’d soon see her, she was waiting for him
Awe, it sometimes brought tears knowing
Time and circumstance had left him behind
Yearning for the things he’d lost and
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
They sure knew how to lift an old man’s
From the warmth of that chair, if only for
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
Over in the corner is that little walking
The sun still shines on that little window
The little birds sing but there’s no one
So much nostalgia and loneliness left
In the heart of that old wooden chair
© Susie Swanson, 2016