I learned a long time ago the little things are the most important in life and can’t compare to wealth of money or material things. When I was growing up we didn’t have much material things and sure didn’t have any money but we made do with what we had and was so grateful and blessed beyond measure.
We turned little things into big ones in so many ways. We never had fancy, store bought toys to play with. We made our own play things with a lot of imagination and a whole lot of ingenuity.
We built playhouses all over the mountain side and we never stopped till we had a grand little playhouse. We’d use old pots and pans that mama had discarded due to the holes in em or she’d let us have an old worn out bed sheet, etc. We used anything we could get our hands on when our imaginations kicked into high gear. We’d play all day if we had our chores done and didn’t realize how hungry we really were till mama hollered, “supper time.”
My brothers made their own cars and trucks out of shoe polish bottles, matchboxes, etc. When they’d get tired of playing house with us girls they could be found playing on the red, clay bank over from the house. They’d play for hours pushing that dirt and using their imagination on that bank. Mama grumbled a lot over the dirty britches and knees that were worn out but she kept em washed and clean. Clorox was her best friend and soap was our best friend, according to mama.
On Sunday afternoons we’d get a treat and we looked forward to that. In the afternoon the whole family would go on a picnic, especially in the warmer months. Daddy always planted watermelons every year and when one got ripe we’d stick it in the spring to get cold. Mama would cook a meal fit for a king and we’d carry our food in boxes, etc. and grab a watermelon out of the spring and start out walking. We’d walk way back in the woods till we found the right spot to eat. We’d spread out our food on an old blanket or sheet and we’d eat till we popped. That was the best eating anywhere. It tasted so much better on the outside surrounded by nature than at the table.
We’d explore every little hole and corner and mama would tell us not to wander off to far and step on a snake. Daddy loved to explore as much as we did and we’d all spread out in different directions and knowing those woods like we did we never had any trouble finding our way back. We always made the whole evening out of it and by the time we’d walk back home it was sundown and the animals had to be fed.
If daddy took a notion to go another direction the next Sunday afternoon we’d all jump on the back of his old truck and ride the backroads till we’d find the perfect place to stop and rest a while, as daddy called it. He’d park the old truck under a big, shade tree and search till we found the right spot to spread out our food, even if it was in a cow pasture under a big shade tree. If it was early spring we’d pick a bunch of poke salat and if we found a creek or branch somewhere we’d pick some creasy greens to take home and cook. There’s different types of creasy greens but mama always said the ones that grow near water are the best.
When it came time to head in home we’d jump on the back of that old truck and it felt like heaven with the wind blowing against our face and skin and we savored every minute of every mile.
We’d hurry and do our chores when we got home so we could watch Wild Kingdom on our little black and white TV. It came on every Sunday evening and we looked forward to it so much. Of course, this was after we got a TV. After it was over we’d go outside and play till mama hollered, “young’uns ye better get in this house before ye get a snake wrapped around ye legs.”
And then there was the little creek and all its glory. We had one particular spot that made for a big pond and it was called The Old Mill Pond. It was named after the gristmill my grandpa, daddy and uncle had operated so many years earlier and was located just up the creek a piece from where the gristmill sit, or what was left of it. You talk about having a blast, we did. We’d play at that pond till sundown and we got so hungry and tired we’d almost crawl in home for supper. Mama would give us a good going over for laying in the creek so long, as she called it. But you talk about cooling off on a hot, summer day, there was no better place to be found than that cold, icy creek. The water stayed just as cold in the summer as the winter. We made many happy memories there and till this day when I step in that cold creek that happens to be located behind my house It takes me back to my childhood and those long ago days we all enjoyed so much.
We had the best time of our lives running through the thickets, woods or playing in the creek. It’s a wonder we didn’t get snake bit but snakes never crossed our mind. We were to busy being a young’un and living the good life and loving every minute of it.
I loved it when families all came together and something as small but yet so big like sitting down at the table come mealtime was the natural thing to do. I can’t remember a time we didn’t all sit down together to eat and that table full of a delicious bounty we grew in the gardens or big bowls of gravy and hot biscuits hitting the spot each morning. Mama always took time to cook a big breakfast for us before we went to school each morning even after she went to work on a public job.
I miss those days even more now since I’m grown. In this fast, paced life we’re living in, folks ain’t got time for nothing anymore. It makes me sad knowing all those little things are still there wasting away.
Our childhood and imagination was our best friend and the little things were big things in that long ago place where time stood still and all was right within a childhood world. I just wish I could ride the back of that ole truck one more time with daddy going five miles an hour, what joy it’d bring.
© Susie Swanson, 2019