The front of our house faced east toward town and the back faced west toward the cemetery. The front of the house was the "front room" and Dad's bedroom was on the south with 2 beds. One was for him and the other was for all of us kids except the 2 little ones and mother. The next 2 rooms were the dining room and on the right was Mom's bedroom. The dining room had a built in cupboard and yellow glass dishes were there. We had a whole set. They may have come from the oatmeal and corn meal we bought. I wish I had a set of those dishes today. I would sell them and retire on a tropical island some where.
The kitchen ran the whole length of the house on the back. Well, that is not quite true. The back door of the kitchen led to a back porch. One side of the porch was for stacking wood and on the other side was a door that lay at about a 30 degree angle and covered the steps down to the dreaded cellar. I am sorry, there is no pretty way to put this, but that cellar was the scariest place in the whole world and we lived about a quarter of a mile from the cemetery. Mother stored sweet potatoes, apples, white potatoes and canned fruits and vegetables down there. There were spiders down in that hell hole bigger than I was and deadly as shit. Black widows loved that place. One of the first lessons I learned was how to take a stick and poke a spider web. Usually it just broke loose and floated off, but if it were the web of the deadly black widow, it was shiny and crackled when you pulled. When that happened we were to get the hell out of wherever we were at. Being a good daughter, I did just that. It was called a black widow because after breeding and to provide nourishment for the babies, mother black widow killed and ate her husband. Praying Mantis's do the same thing. I guess the kid's dad was lucky, huh?
The kitchen was one step down and could be accessed either through the dining room or mom's bedroom. The floor was concrete, which was one step above a dirt floor. The wood cook stove took up the whole corner. Of course we had a wood box, and an ash bucket there by the stove. Very little cooking took place through the week. Mostly we ate cereal, raw potatoes, apples, sweet potatoes or a bread sandwich. Sundays we cooked. We had either fried chicken or roast beef. Supper was stuff like scrapple if mother was lucky enough to score a hogshead. Fried carp was regular fare and apples in about any method were an everyday occurrence. I ate raw apples, fried apples, baked apple, boiled apples, sliced apples, dehydrated apples and rehydrated apples. I made up my mind that when I grew up I would never eat another damn cooked apple and I have managed to keep that vow. Marriage vows were easily broken, but the vow to never eat a cooked apple has been respected and never broken. For the record, I do not eat Carp either, but that is just because I never ran across one since mother used to seine for them in Nickerson.
I started this to tell you about how hard the winters were back home. Our walls had cracks where the boards came together and some times when the wind blew snow came in. Not very often because mother did paper the walls, but sometimes the paper cracked. I can remember once when we drove to Hutchinson to have Thanksgiving with my half brother, Earl and his wife and kids. It took us most of the day to go and come back. The roads were very snowy, but the cars back in those days were very heavy and pretty much mashed the snow. If we slid off the road, sooner or later someone would come along and help us out of our dilemma. We were in turn supposed to do the same for anyone we found in a predicament like that. That was the good thing about the good old day. We helped each other. The "haves and the have nots" were not so far apart as they are today.
The thing about going to Earl's was that he had a house with a furnace. It was an actual furnace and blew hot air through a grate in the floor. We were amazed at how hot the grate was and Gertie showed us one of the boys leg where he had been burned by it before he learned. He had a series of little squares on his leg and we "oohed and aahed" at how lucky he was to be alive. We then ate whatever we ate and after a little small talk dad "allowed as how we ought to get on the road for the long drive back." ( I made the drive in later years and it took about 20 minutes and that was driving slow and gawking at everything." Of course that was not in the old Studebaker now was it?)
Thanksgiving had been great that year. I do need to tell you that back in those days at the family dinners the order of plates being filled was different than it is today. First the men filled their plates. Then the older kids. Then the mothers fixed plates for the young kids. At that time it was time for the women to get their food. When the meal was over, the women folk washed the dishes, dried them and put them away. Floors were swept and the kitchen "redded up" for the next meal.
I wonder if the kids today know how Thanksgiving came to be a national holiday? It is this time of year that I pause to think about how the people who were living here in America and surviving for so many years welcomed the newcomers and brought them food. Guess they kind of thought these people needed help to survive. I am betting that if they had known then what they know now, there sure as hell would not be any Thanksgiving dinner on the horizon. But here we are in 2017 in the land of the free because of the brave with racial bias and hate swirling like snowflakes looking for something to be thankful for and coming way short of the goal.
Damn, I wish I could go back to that little shack on Strong Street and get my tongue stuck to the flagpole just one more time.