If You Don't Laugh, You'll Cry - Laughing's Better!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Memories of Childhood

My sister in law often says that Don, my older brother, gets a kick out of reading my memories about our family. These are not in any order, just as I remembered them..

I remember:

·         Don teaching some expensive, finely trained hunting dogs to chase rabbits.

·         Our pretty little mare, Molly, actually Don’s horse, biting Don’s back, leaving teeth marks. Dad was so angry, he was ready to sell her but Don insisted she was just trying to bite a fly that had landed on him. He rarely wore a shirt, outside, during the summer. 

·         When I was about five, I went complaining to Mom because the boys would never play what I wanted to play. She agreed and told the boys I could pick the next game. I chose dolls. Next thing I knew, they’d lined up my babies, outside, and were shooting them with rubber guns. I think they had made the guns from old inner tubes…. Slingshots?

·         One Thanksgiving, we spent the day just riding through the Smoky Mountains. Dad found a country hotel serving dinner with all the trimmings. We were the last diners of the day so were encouraged to eat a lot. Later, we stopped on the side of the winding road so Dad and the boys could cut a Christmas tree. They tied it on top of the car for its ride home. To me, nothing smells as good as a freshly cut pine tree.

·         Both our parents loved the mountains and as far as I know all their kids do too. Mother used to say, sometimes, that she just had to get to the mountains so that she could breathe better.

·         During most of the WW2 years, we lived on a farm --- so many of our memories stem from there, for lots of reasons. Our house, new I guess, lacked running water, gas, and electricity. There was a wartime shortage of pipes, wire etc. One had to get on a list and wait. There was a bathroom, but no running water etc. At first, we had to haul water from a well and heat it on top of the wood range. I still have burn scars on my arms from that stove. Our best source of heat was the dining room fireplace so that was mostly where we lived. Dad placed 3 or 4 big, oil lamps in the middle of our dining room table. We ate there, did homework, read the newspaper there.

·         We saved our pennies, them together, and bought “funny books” (comic books) and little cars [about the size of matchbox cars now]. I think the cars were 5 or 10 cents. 

·         The boys had elaborate tree houses in a big, old apple tree in our backyard. While they were at school one day, I climbed to Bobby’s treehouse, way high up, When I looked down, I had my first awful fear of heights…. Still have it. Finally, Mom came looking for me. She must have been worried because she said, “If you don’t come down right now I’m going to break a switch and wear you out!” I quickly scuttled down, never stopping to wonder how she was going to manage to climb that tree and spank me. (Thankfully, I thought of that, years later, when I found 2 yr old Bruce on top of our house, afraid to come back down the ladder. I was so pregnant with Dee, I couldn’t see my feet. Some workman had left the ladder propped against the house and I told Bruce to get down “If you don’t come down right now you’re going to get a spanking.” He was more afraid of the spanking than being up that high.)

·         Our last family dog was Pete, a big Staffordshire Terrier [pit bull]. They ordered him from a kennel up north , pure bred and exceedingly intelligent. He was always a house dog and had to be walked. He was about the size of a one lb roll of sausage when he arrived. Bobby did not like the dog in the room he shared with Don. However, Bob came to bed later so Pete went to bed with Don. When they heard Bob coming, Pete would dive under the cover and flatten himself against Don, hardly breathing. Years later, Bobby and I had a good laugh about it. Bob said he never let on that he knew Pete was there – just too funny!

·         The summer that I was15years old, Dad and Mom took Don and me on a wonderful trip to Washington, D.C. for a few days then on to New York City. We saw most of the tourist places in D.C. and took a guided tour of New York. One great memory is going to the Diamond Horseshoe nightclub. Some of the waiters recognized Dad, so they sent out for a case of baseballs for him to autograph. When we first went in, we were seated almost to the door, sorry seats. When they recognized Dad, we were moved almost to the stage.

·         When we first moved back to Atlanta, finding a place to live was a nightmare. Don spotted a moving van in front of a big old white frame house, on 9th Street. The house was just down the street from his school. He got to a phone, called Dad, and I think we had a house by night fall. I loved that house. 

·         The house was just one block from Piedmont Park, an easy walk. Our family and Mom’s liked to picnic and we had lots of picnics there. I took my kids there to feed the ducks and walk around the lake. One picnic tho, we met Dad’s brother and family at North Fulton Park [now Chastain Park]. After lunch, Don, Frank and I were allowed to walk to another section with fish ponds and a tunnel. This was pre WW2. I was about 5 maybe, Frank 7, Don 8. Well, Frank leaned too far over a pond and fell in. He came up and went back down. I guess we’d have just left him but Bobby came to check on us and pulled him out.

·         Bobby and Don were Baptized together on Pastor Awtrey’s arm, at First Baptist Church, Smyrna,Ga. Our Grandfather Hasty, along with our Cousin Patricia’s husband’s grandfather, donated the original land for that church.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Memories - Dang Old Ones, Too!

Recently , daughter Dee wrote a cute blog about how she grew up. Since I was there too, I’d say her memories were mostly accurate.Then I started thinking about my own childhood [1930’s and 40’s] and all the many‘’ likes and differences’’. So we decided I’d give it a shot.

Well, my goodness, everyone loved clowns ! Down deep, I knew they were just people, in funny clothes. Why even oldest brother Bobby had a clown costume and carried a small pig on a leash, at brother Don’s 6th birthday party. It was a circus party, held in our big front yard.I was not quite 3 yrs old so that’s about all I remember. Later years, it was great fun to watch all the clowns pile out of the tiny car at the big Barnum and Bailey circus.

Halloween was no big deal, at all.I am certain that my mom never spent a red cent on candy to give away nor do I recall anyone at the door asking for any. She might have made a pumpkin pie but that was more for Thanksgiving.The1930’s were post Depression years and money was tight.

There was one Halloween that really stands out. We had neighbors, the Cooks, who were good friends.Mother and Mrs. Cook dressed up in their husband’s old work clothes and old felt hats to cover their hair.Don’t recall much about makeup except eyebrow pencil freckles. Mr.Cook and my dad were tall men with five ft.tall, little plump wives.Dad had to work that night so our house was the base of operations. After dinner it was dark enough for 5 boys and one little girl … and 2 very odd looking Charlie Chaplin tramps to walk around and pull tricks on folks. I do remember one where they filled an old, long stocking with sand. We got behind bushes and pulled the fat snake across the sidewalk just as people got to it. Another trick was to knock on front doors and ask people for food. There were plenty of tramps roaming around in those days so this was not so unusual.No one recognized the tramps and they only knocked on doors where they knew folks.Some shared apples, etc. and some threatened with shot guns.

The greatest story of the night tho’ was at the Cooks’ house. Mrs. Cook rang the doorbell at her own home and her husband came to the door. Changing her voice, she asked for food. He went back to the kitchen and returned with sandwiches, fruit etc., very kind.He did not recognize his own clothes!

Christmas was about the Baby Jesus, a real pine tree, mostly homemade decorations, and mostly mom-made presents which we wrapped in thin, colored tissue stuck together with seals of Santa and angels. [The seals had a heavy glue on the backs that I got to lick.] We sang carols and had a big meal and lots of cakes. I got one of the last baby dolls made during WW2 ,which Dee keeps in a glass case, so beautiful.

Both my parents came from huge families so my brothers and cousins were my playmates. I had one girl cousin, Judy , who was 18 mos older, my favorite and, often only playmate. Most of the time, I was the boys’ tag-a-long. I played cowboys and Indians, army, little cars, and board games. I can neither throw or catch very well. As time went on, I had my music, my books, and my dog but neither dog nor I ever had a cotton picking Play Date!

I ate peanuts and peanut butter all my life and like all nuts actually, even a few human ones. My aunt Hazel and Uncle Gan [Orlando] Awtrey pretty much kept me alive with their CARE boxes when I was at UGA. They always sent soups, peanut butter, jelly, tuna fish, coffee etc.

We said, Sir and Mam. and Mr. or Mrs. or sometimes, Sister, Aunt or Uncle. I called the dear, family friend for whom I am named, Mrs. Elva MacEachern, “Sister.” Dad called her Mrs. Mac. The folks, going back to the grandparents, were long time Marietta friends.

Not sure but think I was in college before my parents bought a secondhand, small TV that my uncle got rid of.

We did have a radio that I listened to a lot. There were some great programs and excellent music and later WW2 news [our man in London], Mayor of the Town, Judy Canova, Hit Parade, Bell Telephone Hour, Henry Aldrich, Lone Ranger etc etc…

Of course they played records. Dad loved Bing Crosby and we listened to Gene Awtrey, and rarely The Grand Ol' Opry [mother didn’t care for that] on Sat. night.

It was a different world, seems like. We minded our parents, teachers and other adults. We did not "talk back’’ and telling a “bad story” [lie] was a sin. Dad gave the spankings tho’ I only got one which was well deserved. He only used the “hand to bottom” method but Mother preferred switches.

We each had a 6th birthday party as did my two kids. Other times, birthdays were just family and a delicious cake. Also, we sometimes got socks and undies. Toys were for Santa to bring.

Yes, our growing up years were different but all things considered, we had good parents who loved us and we all turned out just fine.