When I was growing up I loved to roam through the neighborhood and visit the neighbors, especially the older folks. Walking by myself down an old road was safe back then. I never had any worries or fret about anything happening. It was a very different time, unlike today. Everybody walked everywhere they went. There wasn’t many vehicles on the roads and the few that we saw were people we’d known all of our life.
There was this one older lady we called Miss Maude and I loved to visit her every chance I got. She lived by herself and loved to see me coming. She wore her hair up in a little bun in the back and always had on a little apron like both my grandma’s wore.
She always saved me the Funny Papers out of her Sunday newspapers. She subscribed to every newspaper there was and they only put the funny papers in the Sunday editions.
For the ones that don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s the comic strips. We always called them funny papers.
She found out early on that I loved to read em cause when I’d visit her and we’d sit on her little porch and I’d pick up her newspapers that she’d laid down and start reading em. I loved sitting in that little porch swing, swinging back and forth, listening to her talk while she rocked in her rocking chair.
She’d tell me about how it was when she grew up and I could see the sparkle in her eyes when she got in a big way of talking. I kinda figured it out that she got lonesome and that’s one of the reasons I loved to visit. The other reason was to listen to her tell about her memories. That always intrigued me so much. I loved to listen to the older folks talk about the way it was for em in their childhood and the things that happened way back then. They lived in a very different time and saw so many things, stuff that I could only see through their eyes and relive in their heart.
It’d be close to suppertime before I’d leave for home. She’d say, don’t forget your funny papers and I’ll have you some more in a few days if you’ll come on back and see me. I’d tell her that I’d try. I’d head towards home cause mama always told me not to stay so late and be back by suppertime. I’d wear those funny papers out reading em so much.
Then one day she told me to ask my mama if I could help her do some house cleaning chores. That tickled me to death and I asked mama if it’d be alright and she said as long as I wasn’t so late getting in. I never neglected my chores at home. We all knew what needed to be done and we did it without being told.
I’d help Miss Maude put out her wash and hang it on the line. She’d wash one day out of the week and even then she only had an armful compared to what me and mama had. I knew all about washing clothes in the wringer washing machine cause I’d helped mama enough. Sometimes I did her dishes, dusting, etc. She’d give me a quarter or fifty cents for helping her. That was big money to a kid back then. It burnt holes in my pockets till I could get to the store.
She then told me to ask my mama and daddy if one of my brothers could come and mow her yard occasionally. Mama said it’d be alright but she’d only let my oldest brother. He was the only one she trusted to run that push mower. It was the kind of mower that didn’t use gas and ye had to really push. Since her yard was small, flat and not big, it didn’t take him long to do it. I’d be doing something else in the house for Miss Maude while he was busy mowing. She’d give us a little money and we’d run to get home and show it to mama and daddy. It made us feel so big and proud that we’d earned it on our own. I’d put a little back and save it for Christmas, just waiting for the chance to go to the Dime Store in town. I knew mama and grandma tried to go just before Christmas each year. I always had in mind to at least get mama and daddy a present since they hardly ever got anything. Of course, they always said if we had food on the table and a place to lay our head we had plenty.
That would always be in the summer. When school started in the fall we’d try to go in the evenings as much as we could and we’d sit on that little porch and listen to the crickets and katydids and Miss Maude talk about her memories. It’d be dusky dark when we left for home.
I miss those days and all of the older generation that lived around us. I loved visiting with em and listening to what they had to say. It was a goldmine of wisdom and knowledge.
Today the little house is gone, along with so many more. They’ve all been replaced by new ones. But every time I pass by I can see Miss Maude sitting in that rocking chair and me in the porch swing, swinging back and forth. I can still hear her talking and see her eyes light up when she tells how she walked to that one room school where they said a prayer each morning and the Pledge of Allegiance and how they got by during the Depression. My daddy had told some of the same but it never got old. It always brought sunshine to my heart and food for my soul.
Back when times were simple people enjoyed life more, and oh how I miss those funny papers.
© Susie Swanson 2019