Thank you for visiting my blog; it is an exciting venture for me and I hope this will become a forum for moms and homemakers of all types to share stories, frustrations, and triumphs. There will be recipes, pictures of my latest and greatest soap creations, and anything I think will be interesting to Enthusiastic Homemakers.....
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Keep on the Sunny Side of Life
It was January of 1934; Rose and her brothers and sisters lived in the top floor (probably little more than an attic) of a very small house, which had only a living area and her parent's room downstairs. She didn't share with me the details of the plumbing, but based on the location, a rural state, I'm guessing there was none. It was her thirteenth birthday; and also one of the coldest days in January that anyone could remember. Rose had just received a gift from her aunt; her very first store-bought underwear; at that time, it was common for mothers to make underwear for their children from empty flour sacks; I remember my own Granny telling my mother that when she was a child, all her underwear said "Pillsbury's Best" on them! Rose was so excited by her gift, and at the dinner table, she couldn't wait to show off her gift to her father. She ran upstairs to retrieve the precious gift, and when she got upstairs had the horrifying sight of a burning chimney! She ran downstairs, calling; "Papa, Papa, the chimney is on fire!". As she told me this part of the story, she got a very far-away look in her eyes, as if she could still hear the sounds from that long-ago day, and her father's words, as if he had just spoken. Her father, thinking she was joking, said "Hush, Rose"; but then her mother saw the smoke and, alarmed; called to her father as well. Her father's words were still so fresh to her, I know she was repeating this from memory; he said, "Nell, get the children out!", as he tried in vain to put out the fire. The fire department was called, of course; but because it was such a cold day and the roads were covered in ice (and most likely dirt roads); the fire truck was unable to get to their house. The whole family stood on the side of the road and watched as their house burned to the ground; with Rose's precious gift inside.
Sad story? Yes, but when the story was retold to me, it seemed almost bittersweet to her. Did Rose and her brothers and sisters need therapy to deal with the awful trauma of losing their home? I'm almost positive not. All those decades ago, there was a sense of community support, and also an expectation of people being able to handle things themselves. The thing that most sticks out to me, was that Rose wasn't telling me an awful horror story, it was just another pearl to the story of her life. What she has told me, many times; is how lucky her family was during the Great Depression, because her father, unlike others, had a steady job; and as she said, "We never went hungry". Although she ruefully remembers the breakfast "schedule", of oatmeal, cornmeal mush, and pancakes; over and over; and that they did not get much fresh fruit, and no sugar. It doesn't seem to have harmed her, however.
Whenever I speak to her, I'm struck by how much expectations have changed since then, and I wonder; are we better off now? When not being able to buy the type of food you prefer is a hardship, and the fact that you are able to avoid being hungry means nothing? When children expect, not just their own bed, but their own room and often their own TV, Wii, and cell phone? I hope to instill in my children a sense of gratitude for the fact that we have a warm and cozy home, a daddy who comes home safe every night, and almost any food we could desire. And I hope that, should I reach the age of 90, like Rose; I will have her determination and pluck; which led her to recover from a stroke that would have felled a lesser woman, and the sense of fun which prompted her, at the age of 88; to run down the street; simply because someone told her she couldn't!
A little word about my picture; "It Happened One Night" is one of my favorite movies of all time; funny, romantic, and surprisingly current. It also came out the year of my story; 1934; and always makes me think of the era in which my Granny, and Rose grew up.
I know this post is a bit of a departure for me; I hope I haven't bored you to death!