What a great story, written over at http://onetahayes.com/2016/03/10/coal-oil-lamp/comment-page-1/. You must read her story about reading by the lamp light and the glow it gave with a penny card behind it.
Do any of you know what a penny card is? It is a postcard that cost one cent. I have many old penny cards that I found in the run-down house my grandmother grew up in. I couldn’t help myself. I had to share some of my memories of an era that is nearly lost. A time, both memorable and cherished in the life of a girl who hungered to live in the years of old.
I was fortunate that my grandmother, and my mamaw gave birth to my parents late in life. Grandma didn’t even marry until she was 29 years -old. She dated my papa for nine years before they finally eloped. Why did they elope in a time when women were urged to get married? Her parents wouldn’t allow it.
Grandma was a smart woman, but she was ruled by a hard family. She taught at the local school, saved her money and bought a car -but still, she was never permitted to leave home, or drive that car without permission.
She loved my papa so much, that she always allowed him to make the decisions in their family, even though she was (how do I say this) smarter! Not that Papa was dumb -but grandma was a very, very intelligent woman.
She loved to tell me stories, and I loved to listen. I dreamed of living my life as she lived hers. Her house was heated by the old elaborately decorated coal burning stoves, that sat along one side, of the middle of the room, to help distribute the heat.
Her kitchen sink always dripped, because the water came from the spring over the hill. We drank out of a tin dipper. The water was always cold, and the tin added an extra chill. A natural ice machine.
Without a bathroom, we were offered a chamber pot. Somehow squatting on that pot just didn’t suit me. I much preferred the outdoors, hiding behind a tree. If it was dark enough, I just stepped out of the back door, walked a few feet away -and squatted.
This didn’t work, when your bowels cried out. These were the moments, I dreaded. I am scared to death of spiders -and the outhouse was full of spiders. Plus, it was far enough from the house to make it spooky.
That same outhouse sits in my cousins back yard. He came at got the thing a few years ago, cleaned it up (yuck!) and planted flowers around it. Why?
The back rooms in the house didn’t have any heat. With several feather pillows on our double bed, my sister and I would craw through the middle to fluff them up and then climb onto the end of the bed. One, two, three -flop. Whoosh! The feathers would push up all around us, and we’d be deep into the warmth of heavy quilted blankets in seconds.
We did have electricity. A single light hung from the side of our bed. A box of comic books sat on the floor. My favorites were Richie Rich, Lotta (can’t quite remember, was it Lotta Lot?), and Archie. I did read a bit of Superman, as well.
During the days, we would play in the woods, swim in the Creek and climb around in the barn. Such memories.
Grandma made everything by scratch. I especially loved watching her make yeast rolls. They way she rubbed the biscuit around in the grease, before placing them on the baking sheet -made my mouth water.
My mamaw was a lady. She gave birth to my mother at the age of 49. She could share stories of days long before cars, electricity, radio and telephones.
Her husband, my grandfather, was a gentleman like none I ‘ve met since him. He never raised his voice, and always expected a lady to be treated like a lady. Both represented themselves as distinguished, educated, and well-dressed citizens. Their children learned to play the piano, sing, join sororities, and experience the finer thing’s life offered.
Mamaw would sit out in the lawn, and together we would break beans. This means snap the green beans into smaller chunks for canning.
We would wash the clothes in her highly prized wringer washers, and then hang them out on the line to dry. Still, I love the smell of line-dried laundry.
In the days before computers, cars for every member of the family, movies at the touch of a button, video games, cell phones and a world of entertainment around every corner -life was simple, beautiful and bright. Your mind engaged in your own creativity. Your body moved to a rhythm of action. Your eyes saw, your hands felt, and your nose smelled -real life. Staying inside -forget it. Sitting all the time -boring. Staring at a box -why would you want to?
Yes, I think…I was one of the lucky ones to know life that is real and beautiful.