My mother was there and my father was there. My sisters and brother were there. My family. What I remember most about growing up was not what we ate or did not eat, only that we survived. We survived and moved on to better times, but we survived. We grew up playing "Kick the Can". "Blind Man's Bluff, " and "Red Rover, Red Rover." We could always drag enough kids together to play something and when darkness fell and the streetlight came on over on the other corner, we better get for home.
Clod fights were common place and we needed to use our good common sense when choosing a clod out of a plowed field to lob at someone. If it was too soft, it fell apart in the air. If it was too hard it could do some real damage. Of course, it it was too big and too hard it could kill some one. As you see we all survived to adulthood and in that day and age, that in itself was a miracle.
I remember setting on the side of a dirt road in my little cotton dress and my bare feet trying to build an ant hill for an ant I had found that I thought was an orphan. I remember pulling dead wood off of a Cottonwood Tree and lighting it on fire and then blowing on it to keep it burning because I thought it would pass as punk for a fire cracker in case I ever found one of those.
I remember wading in the Arkansas River and the water was so clear I could watch minnows swimming. I could cup my hands and drink it. And I could lay in the cool water and then jump up and run home in the warm sun and be dry when I got there. I was brown as a berry . Of course I was barefooted! We got new shoes in the fall when school started and when we grew out of them we passed them down. I have a closet full of shoes now, but I still long for the days when shoes were an option.
I remember setting on the front yard with my brother and listening to the Grand Ole Opry from WSM in Nashville, Tennessee! I remember Minnie Pearl and Roy Acuff and a host of others. I remember stars so bright they were diamonds in a black sky and a moon that lit up the yard like a spotlight.
I remember so much that I have no words for most of it and that is what I am trying to get across here; not the poverty, but it has to be told because it was what it was. So when I tell you about something, try to see past that to the lesson that is there.
Making soap was how we got soap, Times are different. Now if you want soap, you go buy it, but it was not always that way. We rendered out fat because we needed lard. We played our little games because that is what we passed time on our way to adulthood. We had a checker board instead of an XBox. We played Dominoes instead of turning on a television or booting up the computer.
I grew up in the best of times and I am going to continue to tell you about them. There was a time that poverty was an inconvenience, but never a time it caused me to lose my zest for life. It was a time to be gotten through and a time to be thankful when it was over, but there is not a childhood memory in this head of mine that is dominated by poverty. Poverty was for the people we saw pictures of that were guant and sad looking with a look of silent pleading in thier eyes, not for those Bartholomew kids at 709 Strong Street in Nicherson< Kansas!