Growing Up In The Country

My life in the country as a young girl growing up.

 

When I was born, we lived in a small city in Alabama. When my sister was hit by a truck after she slide off the hood of the car that was parked on the street, our parents moved to the country.

It wasn’t a town but just a small place with a lot of churches and a couple of gas stations with small grocery stores inside. I remember getting off the school bus that brought me home from about ten miles away. The school was in a small yet active town.

When the county sent a road grader out to spread new gravel on the road and smooth it out, everyone was excited as the road had holes in it sometimes. Once we turned off the main road which was a four lane later, it was a two lane road that took us to our community. Then we had to turn onto a dirt road to get to our house. The road to my house was lonely as there were not anymore houses for at least a mile.

Many, many times, I walked to see a girl friend who lived on the other end of that road as I passed trees with muscadine vines growing up in them. These were a real treat in the summer if we could get them before the animals did. One spot on the road was where chert was gotten to put on the road. It left a small pond if it had rained. In this pond would be tadpoles. My sister and I was amazed at these little creatures living in the water. We knew that later, they would become frogs.

Anyway, we would walk all the way to the end of it just because that is what little children did. We could take off to play in the pasture, wade in the creek where stones were like a play ground to my sister and me. If we didn’t have chores, we played outside all day. Mom would call us from the front porch when it was time for dinner. I can still hear my mom calling my name over and over again making sure that I heard her. I would hear her and call back to her that I was coming.

Most of the homes were small and well cared for if the people owned them. Other homes were not nice at all but people had to have a place to live. Most people had wells for water without indoor plumbing. We didn’t have indoor plumbing until I was about eleven years old.

I drew more water than any little girl that I knew. The well had a bucket attached to a rope. I would drop the bucket into the well and I always watched it as it fell into the water. I would pull on the rope to see if the pail was full and when it was, I would draw it up with a crank. Imagine all the water a family of six used each day. Mom did laundry about once a week and the washing machine had to be filled as did both of the galvanized tubs, that were used to rinse the clothes.

Plus, the family bathed each night in a tub that was used to rinse the clothes in. We had to have water to wash our hair, mop the floors, do the dishes and cook with. Just think about all that one uses water for in their homes. Then imagine all of that water coming from a well in a gallon and one half bucket one bucket at a time.

A few of my friends in the area did have indoor plumbing and I thought they were rich. Me knowing that they didn’t have to go outside to an outhouse made me think they must be rich. I remember watching cars go down the two lane paved road in the summer and if the cars had their windows rolled up, I knew they had air conditioning in them. That amazed me that people had that kind of money.

The church where we attended on Sunday sat on a hill and was made of stone. It had a tall steppe on top with a cross. One Sunday, my mother forgot to put the emergency brake on and she saw the car rolling down the hill. She was about ninety-eight pounds at five foot five and being wiry and full of adventure, she ran to stop the car. I still can’t believe she jumped inside to stop that car. Afterward, mom never drove again. I think it scared her too much. Anyway, that church split as some churches do and we started to another church. We attended meetings in a small building until the members built a new church.

All of the men gathered their tools and went to help build the church. My dad was not a member but he helped. My dad was like that. He would help anyone do anything, He enjoyed it. Mom was so proud of him. At that church, I played the piano for the first time in public. To me the woman who played the piano each Sunday was wonderful. My dream was to learn to play as well as her.

During the summer after school was out, we had vacation bible school. We always attended. It would have been unheard of not to. We would study and afterward, the ladies in the church would make cookies and we would probably have cool aide to drink. This one woman made great cookies. At least to me. The cookies had a bit of jelly right in the center. They were special and a real treat.

We had a cow that had to be milked twice a day. My dad milked the cow before going to work and again in the evening after coming home. We had butter from that milk as well as buttermilk for mom to cook delicious breads. Mom and dad enjoyed drinking it but not me.

We also had chickens. There was a chicken coop out behind our house where the chickens would go to roost in the late evenings. I suppose the chickens laid their eggs before leaving the chicken coop in the mornings. I remember going into the coop to gather the eggs when the chickens were pecking away at insects, worms or whatever pleased them during the day. The sound of a rooster crowing is still one of my favorite sounds.

Mom and dad always had a huge garden where they grew about anything one could think of. People would drive from miles around just to see their garden. It really was that pretty and nice. There were never any weeds in it. I know because I learned to use a hoe early in life. Mom would get up just at day break to poison the vegetables. She said she did then because there was no wind. She would put something over her mouth because she realized she didn’t need to breath the dust. That was back when we still used DDT. However, mom knew that she couldn’t use the poison after a certain time during the growing season or the food would be contaminated.

When the garden would be filled with beans, pens, corn, okra along with other vegetables, they would have to be picked. I enjoyed it. However, I didn’t like cutting okra because if the leaves or pods touched my skin, it would make it itch. Mom always worn long sleeved shirts to cut it.

When the beans or peas were gathered in big buckets, we children would sit with mom under a shade tree to string the green beans or shell the peas to be canned. What we didn’t eat was canned and believe me, that was a lot. One year we grew some peanuts. Our soil was sandy but rich and anything would grow nicely. It was my job to keep the weeds out. I remember when the time came to pull them up. Dad made little cuts in the ground far out from the plant and then he would pull up the entire vine. The peanuts would be left turned upside down to dry in the sun.

As y’all can see, I enjoyed my life in the country. It was a fun place to live. My wish is that every child could have a chance to live at least one year like I did back when I was just a girl.

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