Monday, August 4, 2008

When I Was Young....

I keep a few "special" children's books in the small bookcase beside my chair in the living room. Occasionally, I take out one or two--look at the pictures, go over the words and remember the days and nights I read to my children when they were little. They each had their favorites and I loved the stories, too, for their sweet messages or nostalgic content. Stories like: "Love You Forever" /"Where The Wild Things Are"/ "The Sweet Smell of Christmas"/ "Katy and the Big Snow"/ "The Patchwork Lady" /"Mrs. Gigglebelly Is Coming For Tea" and "Frog Where Are You?" never failed to hold their wide-eyed attention. One book is especially dear to me--"When I Was Young In The Mountains" by Cynthia Rylant. It reminds me so much of my own East Tennessee childhood and I enjoyed sharing it with my children.

On the first and second pages of "When I Was Young....." it tells of a grandfather coming home from the coal mines. I lived with my grandmother and grandfather (he did not work in the mines) and we lived in coal country. Coal miners, wearing their blackened pants and shirts, were a common sight in our town, so it gave me a chance to tell the children about, both, my grandfather and coal miners.

On the third and fourth pages, it tells how the grandmother would spread the table with corn bread, pinto beans and fried okra....these are some of my favorite foods, even now. They would frequently appear on our supper table when I was growing up.

Pages 5-6 : talks about the "johnny-house" which my family called our "outhouse." We didn't have an indoor bathroom, until I was a pre-teen, but we did have the prettiest and fanciest "outhouse" that I have ever seen....my family's pride and joy. Our potty was built several yards from our house, painted spotless white with a pretty green roof. Inside it, we had actual toilet seats that were pretty and could be lifted up and down....so cool.

Pages 7-8: talks about walking across cow pastures, running through the woods, the swimming hole and snakes.

Pages 9-10: Shopping at Mrs. Crawford's store.....we shopped at Mr. and Mrs. Fielden's country store, where I remember "cold cuts" being sliced for us on their big slicing machine and when we got home we would make wonderful bologna sandwiches. I would buy Cocoa Cola in ice cold bottles for a nickle and small boxes of fluffy Campfire marshmallows (my favorite confection). I remember the long glass candy counter and the excitement of picking out my favorite hard candy for a penny each. Once or twice each week, I was given a dime to spend on treats.

Pages 11-12: Pumping water from the well. We didn't pump water by hand, it came directly into the house, but Mr. and Mrs. York (my husband's grandparents, who lived across the road from us, did have an old pump and lived that way).

Pages 11-12 also talk about heating water for baths in a round tub, just like we did. A round, shiny galvanized tub was brought into the house on Saturday night, placed in the middle of the kitchen floor; water was heated on the wood-stove, poured into the tub, along with cold water and the baths were taken...first the children, then the women, and last, my grandfather. Sounds pretty icky now, but back then it was a practical way of living. After our baths, the tub was carried by two people to the outside of the house and "poured out" (recycled) into the garden area. Used water from the kitchen sink ran underground, by hose, to the outside of the house and into the garden.

Pages 13-14: making cocoa on the old black cook-stove.

Pages 15-16: baptisms in the swimming hole.

Pages 17-18: baptisms continue

Pages 19-20: listening to frogs after dark and killing snakes with a hoe.

Page 20-21: killing snakes and wearing them around the neck (a male schoolmate did this once and frightened me half to death!)

Pages 22-23: sitting on the porch in the evenings, grandfather sharpening pencils with his knife, grandmother shelling beans (which I remember very well) as the dogs lay around and "bobwhite whistled from the forest."

Page 24-25: the child expresses love for the mountains.

My personal library, today, consists of many theological, intellectual and sophisticated books, but the ones that mean the most, are those that bring back the gentle memories of our lives.

4 comments:

Patty H. said...

That sounds like such a neat book.
Thanks for the prayers

Barbara J. Kirby Davis said...

It's such a wonderful little book with great illustrations. I highly recommend it.

Linda Reznicek said...

Nice reflections--I like the way you went through it page by page. :)

Barbara J. Kirby Davis said...

Linda-Thanks for the encouragement. I need to hear what readers are thinking.