I may chat about my books, what I'm writing or reading, or just general thoughts. You may read posts about my cats or just my crazy life in general. Comments are welcome, if anyone wants to interact with me. Maybe we can share war stories, whether it's writing related or just about life in general.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Childhood Memories

I was going to post something different here today, but that can wait until next time.  I’ve been reading many of the posts by the bloggers I found on Linked In and they bring back so many childhood memories, so I thought that maybe a post on some of the wonderful, yet crazy, memories I have would be in order.  Of course I know all of us have led different lives and have lived different childhoods.

I grew up on a farm and I don’t know how many of you grew up living a farm life.  In my case that meant we were barely scraping by most of the time, especially when my parents had seven kids to worry about.  Some years it was hard to survive on a cotton farmer’s income.

We rarely, if ever, went to the doctor for anything, so if we had a mishap it was dealt with on the farm.  Between my parents and grandparents there was no end to home remedies and solutions for any trouble we might get into.

On this same farm lived my only uncle, my daddy’s brother, and his family of six kids.  All of us were subject to home remedies at one time or another.  Aside from all the bruises, cuts and scrapes and other more gory issues of breaking our heads open from some fantastic feat we were trying to accomplish, such as playing Tarzan and swinging from the trees on a ribbon, and other such things, when we had a stomach ache one of the “sure fire” remedies for getting rid of it was to lie next to a wall in the house, on our back, with our feet extended up the wall.  Now, I’m not sure if this really was a cure, or something just to take our mind off of our stomach ache, but it seemed to work every time.  In fact, my sisters and I still occasionally do this today.

There were mostly girls in our family and mostly boys in my uncle’s family.  We would get together in the summers to play baseball in the cow pasture.  There were thirteen of us in all, so not a bad number and enough players to make two teams.  Of course living on a farm, you have to be very inventive and creative with your games.  We usually didn’t have all the necessary equipment needed, so we used dried cow pies as bases.  Now, you can imagine what the baseball games were like and what shape we were in at the end of a hot, humid day in the Texas heat.  However, we always had the greatest fun while doing this.

All of us loved wading in the ditches too after a thunderstorm, which drove mama up the wall.  That muddy water sure did feel good though and was such a nice break from the heat.  We didn’t have A/C, or forced air heat in those days, so we strictly relied on the old box fans to provide some kind of air circulation and one Dearborn heater we would all crowd around in the winter time.  The only trouble with that, aside from fighting for a place among seven kids, was burning your front side and freezing your back side, or vice versa.

Another highlight for us girls was summer girl scout camp.  As brownies we were too young to go to camp, but once we became girl scouts we had weekend trips in the summers where we could work on our merit badges, as well as get out to areas of the country we had never seen.  We seldom left the farm except to attend school.

Once at the campsite, the first order of business was pitching our tents.  We always had old stuff that had been used for years and years in our family because we couldn’t afford anything new, so I always used my daddy’s old army cot to sleep on.  That was solid wood and quite an ordeal for a youngster to pack in down the trail to the campsite.  But, hey, I was excited to get off the farm and away from my siblings for awhile.  I always looked forward to the great adventure I was going to embark on.

Once the tent project was managed, we had to dig the latrine that would serve the purpose for all our personal needs during the weekend.

After that came the keyhole fireplace.  This was where we would cook all of our meals.  Does anyone remember coffee can stew?  Or did they only have that in Texas?  Before the trip we had to get prepared, so we all needed a small coffee can and ingredients to go in it that we would bring with us from home.  An old metal coffee can was saved for this purpose.  I don’t even think they make them anymore because I haven’t seen one in years.  This can was shorter than most coffee cans you see today and had a key to open it on the outside by the rim, near the top of the can.  We had to cut up carrots and potatoes and things and place them in this can.

This concoction would be prepared on a table we made by tying broomsticks together.  We each had to contribute to this by collecting broom handles throughout the year.  Once this table was assembled, we would take turns cutting up carrots and potatoes and onions and then put in whatever meat we had with us.  This mixture was put into the can, carefully replacing the lid so as not to cut ourselves on the sharp edges before wrapping the whole works in tinfoil to keep it together.  These little packages would be placed on the coals in the long portion of the keyhole fire pit.  I can honestly say that this was the best stew I’ve ever had.  Maybe that was due to the fact it was cooked outside in a coffee can, or maybe I was just starved from all the physical activity.

Other days of the trip we would have sandwiches, or try our luck catching fish at a nearby creek.

Of course there was lots of hiking and exploring too because these escapades always took place in some wooded area.  Along with this, we had archery events and other activities we would compete in.  And, as mentioned earlier, we could work on any merit badges that we lacked and that applied to this camping trip.

We all had our duties assigned to us by the scout leader, so we each knew what our job was and everything around camp ran smoothly.

At the end of the day we were all so tuckered out from all the activity that we were asleep before our heads hit the pillow.  I really doubt if we would have known if we’d been bitten by any mosquitoes until morning, but of course that’s what the mosquito nets were for.  The mosquitoes run rampant in south Texas in the summers and they are some mighty big suckers.  The only ones bigger I’ve ever seen was when I lived in Alaska, as an adult, but that’s a different story for another time.

As good as it was to leave the confines of home on the cotton farm; it was mighty good to get back too.

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