The first time I ever spent the night away from family was at Alene’s. She invited every girl in the class, about 9 or 10 except one girl. We walked to her house that afternoon. She lived over at Sheffer’s place. I didn’t think much about it then, but later I thought it wasn’t very nice of her not to invite her. She said something about that not being a very nice family. I am sorry I went and I was sorry before the night was over too, cause one of her brothers got in bed with one of the girls. Thank goodness he didn’t try that with me. I never went back again.
It was common to walk places and especially on Sunday afternoons. I would walk down to Mrs. Polk’s house and back. Sometimes to the bridge on Belmont Rd. Evenings I’d walk in the woods back of the house. No one thought anything about going in the wood or really anywhere. It was safe and I felt very comfortable going by myself. Often I’d go to the springs where Dess would go sometimes to get white clay. She used that to white wash the hearth where we had a fire. A “good housekeeper” kept a good white hearth. You mixed the clay with water and took a rag and washed the hearth with it until it was white. She did that at least once a week. But the creek was pretty and with the spring the water was clear and cold and ferns and flowers and pretty rocks made a serene setting. Before my time (the icebox) they kept milk and other things in the spring to make it keep longer. Caroline was one of the springs. I’ve often wondered who it was named after and who she was and what her life was like.
I loved walking in the woods and kicking the leaves and hearing the russel they made. I always found something I considered a “good find” on these treks. An especially pretty leaf or rock or maybe a stick with moss growing on it. The woods were beautiful and so peaceful. I think it was like music is today to people. There was no music unlimited like it is today. The radio had some but I really don’t remember back then hearing music at all very much. Mama Dess did have a victroler and lots of records, maybe 20 in all. You could wind it up, put on a record and listen. I did that pretty often. It was in the front living room and they never went in there to listen to it, but she said when they were younger they enjoyed it a lot. She later sold it to I think and black fellow that wanted it for a few dollars. She felt she needed the money more than she needed the victroller.
Dess did a lot of sewing, mostly she made dresses for folks in those early days. For a long time she made them by hand by Uncle Harry saw her doing that and one day here he came with a peddel sewing machine. She was so happy. Years later she made slip covers, drapes, bedspreads, and all kinds of things for the homes of many well to do people in town. I know it was the main income for them.
Fess did patch farming and had cows and hogs those early years. At one time they had about 5 or 6 mules, a good number of cows and hogs. He always planted a huge garden. The big garden was fenced in and had flowers also. I thought that was the prettiest garden I’d ever seen. It had sage and dill and things I’d never seen before. Dess always had baby chicks coming on. The brooder was built up high so animals couldn’t bother them. The floor was a think tin and she had is covered about two inches with sand and in the bottom a kerosene lamp to keep the sand warm so the chicks would live. We keep water and food (chick mash) in special containers. In cold weather we had to watch carefully to make sure they stayed warm enough. The large chickens ran loose. In the evening we would sprinkle corn and grain out in the yard for them. I would sometimes help gather the eggs. Fess had a long row of boxes build for the chickens to lay in. These were filled with wheat straw. Sometimes a hen would peck you as you gathered the eggs.
I felt like we were really well off, we had eggs, milk, mean from the pigs, and vegetables from the garden. Dess canned everything. I don’t think anything ever went to waste. It was all good too. I never had the feeling that we were poor or lacked having things. Of course you didn’t sit around then and wish for stuff. You didn’t even think that way, or maybe I didn’t know enough to think that way. I had the best clothes I’d ever had. Dess made me some but most she remade from her dresses. Aunt Mae always worked in a dress shop where real nice clothes were sold. She had lots of good clothes and she would wear something a while and then give them to her family. Dess recieved many of these and so in turn she would remake some, that were suitable, for me.