October 28, 2009

If someone needed help, there was a special ringing combination, and everybody would pick up their kitchen phones to see who needed help, and respond if they could.  We knew the Operator, who was a neighbor, not a computer machine.  We would tell the operator who we wanted to talk to, and she would ring their number – if we couldn’t remember it, and sometimes she would say, “Oh, she is over at Mabel’s, I think, I will try that number for you!”  (Justin Case you love Cell Phones so much, and use them in public places where I am sitting quietly, nearby!)

Once, at 11 o’clock, when I couldn’t catch a ride home from a movie at the county seat, seven miles from home, I called my Dad asking if he would mind coming to bring me home, fully aware that he got up at 5 a.m.  every morning to turn on the lights in our hen houses so they could get a good day’s egg production.  He came, as I expected, but the next week it seemed every one of our adult neighbors had heard my plea, and his response, and mentioned it disdainfully to me.  Dad never spoke of it again – nor did I ever call him again late at night, for a ride or a loan!  I am so glad I grew up then, in the country! 

We had less fortunate friends.  One family couldn’t afford winter coats, and their sons walked proudly, coatless, while I was freezing in my long winter underwear and thick coat.  I asked my best friend from my family, in spite of him accusing me of being too fat, why he didn’t wear a coat, and he told me his family couldn’t afford boys winter coats, they should walk around acting warm and proud, and they did.  When I got bigger than clothing was available for, I wore clothes that were too small, and acted proud and disdainful, too.  Today I am so proud of living on a farm like place, I wear clothing dirtier than Judy can stand without washing, and I am ashamed of embarrassing her – so I am dumping them more frequently into her laundry basket.  She seems pleased, in spite of more work! 

We burned wood in the kitchen and living room to cook meals and warm the house and water.  The wood was cut from the trees on the steep hillsides of our farm, but we never noticed a failure in anything my Mother cooked or baked, and there was not a temperature setting for the oven!  My first assigned chore was to bring wood into the house from the woodshed in the attached shed, next to our outhouse.  Mother started the fire in the kitchen range, Dad either started or maintained the fire in the big stove in the living room.  There was no heat upstairs where my two brothers, my sister, and I slept, and in the winter we would leap out of bed, race downstairs with our clothes in our hands, to hold them up near the stove to warm so we could put them on, comfortably. 

I loved cutting and burning wood in our present house.  My favorite neighbor, Bon Zumbrun drove his pickup into my driveway soon after I bought my country paradise, got out, looked at  me atop my shop, repairing a leak, and said, “Do you drink beer?”  I said I had, but didn’t have any.  He said, “Come down, I have a cold six pack!”, and we sat in the shop and drank one can apiece.

Later he asked me to help him cut wood, and taught me the secrets, on his trees, on his land.  Soon we took two pickups, two chain saws, used his splitter attached to a huge tractor, and sawed, split, and filled both pickup beds.  He then told me to take my wood home to my house!  I thought him nuts, but you can see why he quickly became, and endures to this day, my favorite neighbor!  Due to my advanced age, and inability to stand back up when down, we gave our wood-burner to Judy’s oldest son, whose family enjoys its wonderful warming smoky addition to their household, and we burn propane!  How we miss it!  We even have trouble finding spider webs now!  But – it is easier!  .  .  . good gardening    

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