‘We had it all’
Last spring my friend, Wanda Boyce Garland, a contributor to a book, suggested I should submit a story to Hometown Memories Publishing. They advertised for old timers and not so old folks all over Southwestern Indiana who remember what life was like back in the early days of the 20th century. They sought those stories from the right area. We tell it like it was, the good and the bad and everything in between. Several folks from our area submitted their stories, including my sister Sandra. Two hundred and forty stories were chosen to be included in history book titled “Kick Start Warshers and Window Iceboxes.” Some of you might be too young to remember facts in our stories or how we talked or the wholesome subjects we wished to write about of some of the best days and worse times of our lives, as we reflect back. Through this beautiful hard covered book some of the not so perfect happenings that we endured seems to soften.
I selected family from a list subjects to write about. I hope it is a good read for you.
“We HAD It All!”
By Mary Lou Lynch Sartor
If my father were living, he would be working his gardens today, regardless of the heat. He never allowed holidays to slow him down. During the planting and growing seasons of his life he became an avid gardener, a master of his game. Every unspoken for day was spent gardening , including his special day. Our dad did not expect gifts from his children, but we always put our artistic abilities into action and created simple but beautiful cards. We added warm sentiments inside that went straight from our hearts to his.
He would never say much, though; his broad smile spoke louder than words. More than often ,during those early years of our childhood, we had few coins to spare of our own ,therefore ;the cards and extra help fine-tuning the garden took care of things. We hoed, raked, weeded and more to prove what we meant in those make-do cards. Mom would yell-out at us “Dinner is ready or ‘supper’ if that were to be the meal. Come in ; take off your dirty shoes and wash your hands well. ” We knew the routine by heart , but, we listened to her repetitious words, because we loved her. The apple of our eyes cooked a thresher’ feast on the old coal range for five of us. I do not know why mother did not joined us at the table. We certainly did gather-up enough rickety chairs. Maybe she wanted to eat in peace. Almost , everything she cooked was awesome belly pleasing delights. Sometimes the food items were far out fare that Dad requested. That rascal was like the guy on the travel channel named Andy. He would eat most anything sitting before him , gross or not. He dug fried squirrel. I guess you could say he doubly dug them. Our dad extracted the fully cooked brains from their tiny skulls with a round wooden toothpick. The matter looked like a white gob on a kabob. Years ago, my dad judged field trials in Southern Indiana and the Kentucky area. Those old boys introduced him to that regional comfort food. The little spongy half-drained pan-fried brains are still considered by many, a delicacy. We did not wait to get chicken on Sunday or turkey, duck or greasy goose and dressing on Thanksgiving or Christmas. We were picking pins and grinning all the time. Eggs figured into every meal, in pairs to heaping platters of hen fruit. More pigeons landed on our table than ever landed on lit on the roof of the old summer kitchen loft, it seemed. We owned the largest flock of fancy breeds, commons and prized traveling Homers around.
We ate lot of squab and the local trap shoots to thank for gunnysacks more to deal with as a team.
Mother cooked my sister’s pet crow one day, reluctantly. Dad said our pet pair of crows had to go to go, because meat rabbits were moving into the holding pens. The crippled crow that I claimed, no doubt escaped the pen the day of the kill. He did not appreciate being in captivity for good reason. The Scot told mom to mix Herkel’s body parts in with the fried chicken and none of us would know the difference but I did. Let’s face it , the chicken’s legs were so skinny it looked like he may have purged many meals, a dead giveaway. Neither did the thighs or breast match up to other fleshy poultry parts, either. Think about it, my sister would have croaked like a frog if I would have spouted, “Pass the crow’s gizzard please!” Instead I licked my lips with my tongue and drooled. There the bird’s well tanned legs were sprawled out with that fryer chicken and tamed body parts on that huge ironstone platter for us to see. It was too late for prayers. So, I grabbed a breast of the old tough bird, gave it a workout and a proper burial, down the shoot. I thought of a happier time, the summer when she showed her ‘Herkel’ at the pet contest , in the park. Folks strutted around showing the many entrants the bird that hot day. Well groom pink poodles with bows on their noodles and more. The bird that my little sister entered in the contest wasn’t much on looks but he was a charmer. The entirely black passerine bird made his presence known. The ’caw’ of the wild ruffled some feathers, other than, for the most part, pleased the crowd and judges. Sandra and the crow went home with a shiny ribbon and a silver dollar. I do remember that the cute picky eater passed up the poultry that day. The rest of us crowed about the what we stripped from the pile of bones. It would be years before she found out about the crow that went down on Elm Street one sad day so long ago. I could neither hold the truth from her any longer, nor take it to my grave. Therefore, a cold case was opened and more guts were spilled.
Many times we laugh until we cry when we reflect back to when and where we enjoyed those good old days and the simple pleasures of life. We were poor , but rich in so many ways. We had our parents and our precious brother, Johnny Wayne and with God watching over us , I’d say, we had it all! I can be reached at 317-286 -7352 or drop me a line to 649 South Grant Street, Brownsburg , In, 46112.