Julie sent these pictures to me, so I’m assuming they are from Aunt Cleo’s 80th Birthday Party, but someone else will have to fill in the details.
I can remember a time during confirmation school around the sixth or seventh grade we would have to walk all the way to school and do our chores before school. If I were running late due to being behind on my chores, I would run to school seven miles, five of which were through the woods. The school was a small one-room school located in Oak Grove, Missouri. I would cut back all of the weeds in order to create a path to walk on with Cleopha, Lolly, and Naomi. I remembers cutting holes in the barbwire and wrapping them with gunnysacks so the barbwire did not tear their clothing. The children were expected to attend no matter what the weather was like and even during the winter the girls still wore dresses. Cleopha, Beatrice, and Lolly later walked this path to school and across the creek in 2011. I also remembers a time when the creek was frozen. I saw a minnow in the creek, so I ran jumping onto the frozen creek with one foot on the creek and the other on the creek bank. The foot on the frozen creek fell through causing me to hit the ice with my bottom. Once I arrived home, my pant leg was frozen dry to my leg.
When I was small, I spent many hours sitting on Daddy’s lap combing his hair. He had lots of patience and endured a lot. He taught us to play blind pitch, and then regular pitch. He played the harmonica and I played my drum sitting by the old wood stove in the wintertime.
On cold winter weekend nights, we would run upstairs where the peanuts and popcorn were laid out to dry on papers on the floor, dip up a big pan of peanuts and grab ears of popcorn and take them to the kitchen. We put the peanuts in the oven to bake and shelled the popcorn. We would pop a big dishpan of popcorn. Then Mahlon, Cleo, Naomi and I would play cards or Monopoly till midnight.
We walked two miles to school at Oak Grove. When I was in fourth grade, the bus started picking us up. We had to walk 1/2 mile up the road to the mail box. When we walked to Oak Grove, we had two creeks to cross, and Goetz’s and Otto’s cows to worry about. We were so scared of them. We would walk miles out of our way if the cows were anywhere near our path. For some reason, they always chased us if they saw us. Our lives were never dull! If it rained and the creeks were up, we had to walk upstream about a mile before we could cross. We ate rabbit grass in the spring on the way home from school, and possum grapes, black hulls, persimmons and huckberries in the fall. Cleo and I were janitors at Oak Grove. We got_paid 10-15 dollars a month. We had to sweep the floors, clean blackboards and carry in fresh water each day. We would run all the way home then so we could listen to our soap opera “Just Plain Bill”. It came on the radio at 4:15 PM.
Bea taught me to tell time when I was small. I remember her setting with me for hours trying to get it through my head. She was patient! On the big rocks on the road to Route H, she was waiting for a ride, and I was waiting with her. She had a fork and combed my hair with a fork. Such imagination!
When I was about 6 or so Cleo went to Jeff City to live with Cousin Freida. She went to school there for a while and then came back home and went to Eugene. It was kind of dull without her at home. I remember one evening Cleo had been babysitting in Jefferson City and the family drove her home. It had rained and the road was muddy. The family’s vehicle got stuck and daddy had to pull him out with the tractor. It was good that we had a tractor. Many years before we relied on old Bert, Sally and Black Beauty! My love of singing came from singing with my sisters. I will always remember how proud I was when I first “heard” the harmony singing “Long, Long Ago.” We always sang no matter what we were doing, washing dishes, sweeping, hoeing in the garden…. etc. Cleo was always very resourceful and could get things done. I’ll never forget the mental picture of her grabbing the frying pan that was on fire and throwing it out the door so the house wouldn’t catch fire. She was very generous and thanks to her, Lolly and I had nice clothes to wear, both new and hand-me-downs. Hand-me-downs were like new to us. She gave us new clothes for Christmas, too. One year she gave Lolly and I each a beautiful store-bought skirt and sweater. We were so happy! But old or new, we were always glad to have anything!
I barely remember the siblings from Vernon on up, because they were gone from home when I was very young. It was always a celebration when they came home. For sure it was always, make homemade ice cream, have a wiener roast in the barn yard and corn on the cob. Mother would always make their favorite desserts!