Monday, August 20, 2018

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 for 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 for 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 for 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 eating 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 for 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 for 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, 2018

The above pic is one of my mom and her dad and mom (my grandparents) back when she was a young woman. ~Susie~

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Memories Never Age

From the time she was a little sprout
She walked with a happy song
Old dirt roads were the common route
Where so many feet traveled upon

Walking hand and hand together
Her little grandma by her side
Eight short years seemed forever
A happy little girl with joy and pride

She came to learn so much more
As she listened along the way
Visiting many, walking to the store
Was the usual routine each day

Or sitting upon an old fence rail
Eating an apple under the tree
Grandma gathering apples in her apron tail
The taste of that apple, what a memory

Skipping along, looking for a pretty rock
Running through the creek, busting it wide
Hardly a shoe, never a sock
Stumping her toes, she never cried

Her mouth running ninety miles an hour
Asking questions, curious as could be
Grabbing a crabapple, oh how sour
Her grandma warned her aimlessly

Walking to church many a time
Decoration day was an annual event
Dinner on the ground, a sure fire sign
The whole day they rejoiced and spent

So proud of her pretty, little, church dress
Her mama made, especially for the day
And those pretty roses, were the best
Sitting on the graves in a big bouquet

Carrying that little doll her grandma gave
With piercing eyes, blue as the sky
The smallest things are worth the save
Worth more than money can buy

So many memories for a small girl
Tucked away of a few short years
Her grandma was short for this world
Golden memories wipe away the tears

In her mind, she’ll never lose sight
Of her grandma on that distant shore
Her voice she still hears each night
Go to sleep, tomorrow we’ll do even more

Today she smiles with a happy heart
Turning back time and each cherished page
She and her grandma will never part
Although she’s grown, memories never age

© Susie Swanson, 2018

Just a little update. Please continue to keep me in your prayers. I'm having a very hard time and trying to get the right dose of steroids daily in me. They may have to change them to another kind since these are not picking me up at all. This is the life of an Addison's Disease Patient. They're also running other tests to try and find out about my other glands also. I'm waiting on the results of a CT Scan to come back to see if my pituitary gland is damaged or if I might have Hypoptituitaryism which means my gland is not working at all. I'm trying to keep my spirits up and leaning more on God every day. I get out of breath easily when I walk to the restroom and very weak. God has a plan and I'm clinging to his promises. What I'd give to be able to go back to that little girl again that I've wrote about for so long but I cling to my memories more each day. Thanks so much for the prayers and I'm praying for you all as well. I miss visiting with you all and hopefully soon I can more often. May God Bless each one of you.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

I'm From Appalachia

I’m from Appalachia where the mountains are home
And the land is pregnant with age old meaning
The gardens are planted by the wisdom of the signs
The corn grows tall with jointed stalks bending

Fresh winds sweep across these ancient hills
The echoes evoke like fragrant honeysuckle vine
The stars are more nearer and the sun shines brighter
On those old familiar pathways that were left behind

One can never know what lies beyond a hilltop
Clothes on clotheslines blowing in the wind
That dear, sweet voice calling, come to supper
Gathering around the table, where love is akin

Learning very early how to cook, can and preserve
From the rich earth that many wise have laid feet upon
Given freely and worth more than wealth of money
Such joy, knowing that now it has become my own

Such a rich heritage passed down through the years
Sweet as the apples, pears and each juicy plum
A way of life that no one can ever lose, take or break
Fine as that childhood wagon made from a black gum

And those spirit filled churches, oh what joy to be had
Plenty of preaching and shouting echoes across time
Age old faith handed down through the generations
God surely did design it all with his grace in mind

Wonders never cease across this beautiful Blue Ridge
The water runs crystal, clear down every hill and trail
Sweet as molasses from sugar cane stripped at the mill
Such a treat and humbly I accept, this life is so swell

These mountains I call home just beyond the horizon
My spirit dwells and in tranquil peace does shine
I will plant it firmly for those who follow after
In hopes they’ll never leave the chimney smoke behind

© Susie Swanson, 2018

Just a quick update, I got a diagnosis this past week that I didn't expect and sure didn't want to hear. I've told before about having Adrenal Gland Fatigue, well they run a Test on my Adrenal Glands this week and they're barely putting out any cortisol at all which is a very important hormone that keeps the body functioning and our defense against stress. The Endocrinoligist said I had Addison's Disease and I'm having a hard time accepting it but God is in control and he will help me through this like he always has. It'll be Steroid city for me the rest of my life and those things are hard to live through. I'm having a very hard time with them now and I'm just starting out on a child's dose, can't even imagine the how's or what's that's to come. I'm depending on God for that cause he holds the future. I wanted so much to get better news cause I'm not getting any younger. I just want to live my life again and do the things I love to do. Just keep me in y'alls  prayers and I'm praying for you all as well. May God Bless!!  ~Susie~