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Saturday, February 2, 2013

Memories of Grandparents on the Farm

This is me in front of the farm house in about 1959-60.  
  
When I stop and recall times past spent on my grandparents farm, happy memories come in a flood.  There is just something magical about grandparents.  Ordinary things have a completely different meaning to a grandchild.
My Louthan grandparents lived on the family farm owned by my great grandmother, Emma Jennie Hurt Louthan. I never knew my great grandfather, he died before I was born.  Grandpa had a few head of cattle and one milk cow.  He worked for the Major County road and bridge department for many years.  Grandma worked in Branstetter's grocery store in Chester, OK.  I have an aunt who is 6 months older than me and we had some great times together!  I spent time during the summer with them on the farm.  Great grandma lived in town and we spent the daytime with her while Grandma was at work.

Let me paint a picture of the farm for you.  It was down a sandy road off of the highway a few miles.  The yard had elm, mulberry and cedar trees.  Very little grass grew around the house in that sandy soil and deep shade. When the mulberries were ripe, our feet were stained purple!  We almost never wore shoes in the summer. Out front of the house was a hand pump for drawing water from the well to drink, wash and cook with.  Out back was the two-seater outhouse.  There was a storm cellar where Grandma kept the electric separator for separating the cream from the milk. She kept her canned goods down there and there was one bed, just in case of a storm.  She had a crank style wringer washing machine and a close line.   There was a galvanized bathtub right up close to the back of the house.  We all shared the same bath water which had to be heated on the electric kitchen stove.  The house originally had three rooms; living room, eat in kitchen and a bedroom with two full size beds in it.  There was a sink in the kitchen with a drain, but no faucets.  Inside the front door, which opened into the kitchen, was a stand with a water pail, ladle and wash basin.  We all drank from the same ladle and we put it back in the water pail after we took a drink. After washing our hands in the basin, the dirty water was tossed out the door. They had a party line telephone.  If someone was on the line, you had to wait until they got off before you could make a call.  I remember the kitchen table, chrome with a grey marble Formica top. It is the first one I remember, they could have had one before it.  In the living room was a sofa that made out into a bed with storage underneath.  They had a wall furnace for heating and an evaporation water cooler for the summer time.  At night time, she brought in the chamber pot, a.k.a. 'Thunder Mug' as Grandpa called it.  In the summer time, my aunt and I would sleep outside on an iron bed with an open metal spring foundation that Grandma covered for us.  There was nothing like sleeping out under the stars!

I remember the holidays at the farm.  Grandma made chicken 'n' noodles, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, divinity, fudge and peanut brittle.  No one could top my grandma's cooking, especially her noodles and pecan pie, my favorites!   She made her own egg noodles and could cut them as thin as spaghetti noodles.  When we and all of my cousins were there, we numbered 10 kids and six adults.

Grandma made her own butter in a churn that belonged to her mother, Myrtle Paris Hedrick.  She always let her cream sour before she made butter, consequently, I never liked butter.  I didn't care for raw milk either, but would put it on my cereal.  To this day, I don't drink milk.

I don't remember the year, but my grandparents decided to build on to the farm house.  They built on a long room along the back that had a door from the kitchen into it and then it went across the back wall of the living room and had a door that exited to the outside.  The first Easter after they started construction, we hid the colored eggs in the stud walls which hadn't been covered yet. It was particularly cold Easter that year. One of the full-size beds was moved to this addition for my aunt.  Grandma's deep freezer was in this room as well.

There was a big elm tree next to the house and Grandpa made a tire swing for us.  We had a lot of fun on that tire swing.  We used to play a game where one of us would toss a ball over the house and  and the other one would catch it on the other side.

Grandpa had an old car that they didn't drive to town anymore.  He would load us up and head out into the pasture.  Following the two wheel trail down through the sandy hills toward a place he called "the thrill hill."  Grandpa would get going pretty fast then off the top of the hill we went!  I have no idea how steep the down side was, but it gave us quite a thrill!  My grandpa was pretty ornery.  He loved to tease us.   Grandpa had a bed time snack every night, bread and milk.  He put the bread in his glass of milk.  I don't know as I ever asked him why.  Grandma made bread, never bought it from the store.  She used to fry the dough on a hot griddle and we ate it with butter melted on it.  She called them 'fried toads.'  I should have asked her where this name originated.  I never knew anyone else who called it that.

Great grandma died in 1974 and the farm was put up for sale.  Grandma and Grandpa moved to town so my aunt finally lived in a modern house.  I know she was thrilled since no one else in her high school lived like she did on the farm.  I supposed it I had lived there all my life, I would have felt the same way.

I collected porcelain enamel ware in red and white like Grandma used on the farm.  She just couldn't believe I liked that old stuff.  It seems to me we collect things that bring back fond memories of our childhood.  I no longer have the enamel ware, I sold it during my first downsizing.  Letting go is hard.

Grandpa died in 1992 and Grandma died in 2003.  My parents made each of us kids a packet of pictures from the albums that Grandma had.  The picture at the top of this post was in that packet.  I don't know who the car belongs too.  My sister was born in Dec. 1959 in Lubbock, Texas but I cannot tell if the plates on this car are Oklahoma or Texas.  I am sure there are car aficionados out there who could identify the make and model by the style of the tail lights.

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