Wednesday, January 17, 2018

A Winter Day at the Ranch and an Excerpt From my Book......

It was a cold night down here in the country!
Every time I woke up through the night, I would check the weather app.
At 6:30 it was 10 degrees.
Not that I got up at 6:30!
It was closer to 10:30!

A cold morning deserves a hot breakfast!
I made a big pot of oatmeal and fried up a whole package of bacon plus six pieces of buttered toast.
We ate it all.

We pretty much stayed inside the camper until the afternoon.
I was busy with my book.
While I am not so much writing new chapters at this point, I am going back and cleaning up and adding to the ones I have already written.....13 chapters so far.

Louis Dean was working on his music as I was working on my book.
When he talked to me, I would start reading out loud where ever I was in my editing.
He gave me a wonderful compliment.
 He said, "Linda! That is GOOD!!! It makes me want to crawl into the book and see what happens!"

While this is not the chapter I was reading to him,
I'm going to take a chance and include part of.....

 Chapter Three

Summer 1956–

                Granny took care of us now and it wasn’t nearly as pleasant as when Mother was home all the time. All three of us girls slept in the same bed together and Lonnie slept with Mother and Daddy. We would wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast and then Granny ushered us to the back door and turned us out into the yard like puppies. She always locked the hook and eye latch to prevent us from coming back in. We stayed outside until lunchtime when we were allowed to come in and eat.
                We took afternoon naps on the living room floor. Granny had lace curtains on all the windows in the living room and I loved to watch them billow in the breeze since the windows were always open due to the summertime heat. Not many people had air conditioning back then. She had hung framed prints on the walls and my favorite was the one of an angel helping two small ragged, frightened children across a rickety bridge into what I assumed was heaven. As I would gaze up at it, I imagined the children to be Lloydine and myself on that bridge and found great comfort knowing that God had angels to take care of us.
                Once we all woke up it was back outside until suppertime. Then we played some more until it was time to come in and get ready for bed. Occasionally we would watch a TV program in the evenings if both Mother and Daddy were home.  The Ed Sullivan Show and The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin were two of my favorites.
                None of us can remember playing with a single toy in all those summer days we spent outside. We generally followed the shade, playing up close to the house under the seven sisters rose bushes in the mornings. We used our imaginations and dreamt up all sorts of things to do. The roses were intertwined with a huge honeysuckle vine and we loved to pick bouquets and make our own perfume. First we would pick the flowers and tear them up into tiny pieces and put them in an old tin can. We added some rain water we collected in another tin can and stirred it all up with a stick. Another thing we tried to make while we were out there by the rose bushes was glue using flour and water and mixing it together in an old can. We stirred it until it was smooth and white and LOOKED like glue to us. Papers were always flying into the yard so Lloydine and I would gather up some of them and try to glue the edges of them together to make a book so we could play school. The glue never did hold. I have no idea why. Perhaps we kept getting it too thin.
                Do you remember the first conscience sin you ever committed? I do. It was right there underneath that seven sister rose bush. One day I had got hold of some matches and I took them with me when we were shooed outside. I had them hidden in my hand and my hand behind my back so Granny didn’t notice them.  I tried and tried to burn a stick. I managed to strike the matches but the stick would never catch on fire. Even as I struck each match, I knew in my heart that it was a sin for me to be playing with them like that. No one saw what I was doing but I eventually felt so guilty I tried to go in and confess to Granny what I had done. However, the door was locked so I tucked the book of matches down beside the little step there under the door and went back to play. I didn’t forget what I had done, though, and confessed it to Mother later that evening. She didn’t seem to pay much attention to me and I didn’t even get a spanking as I was certain I would.
                As the day progressed, we would go further and further into the back of the yard. At the very back was a huge old mulberry tree. We did love those mulberries! Lloydine and I would climb up in the lower limbs and discovered two ‘seats’ where the branches curved in such a way as to form what we called our chairs. We spent many an hour up in that tree. Lanita was too little to climb since she was only two years old. She didn’t stay outside as much as Lloydine and I did. Granny had her come in for an extra nap in the mornings. Lonnie was just a baby so he got to stay in the house most of the time.
                The people next door to Granny and Granddad had chickens, roosters, pigs, why – they even had a donkey!!! They also had a boxer dog and Lloydine was so scared of it, probably because of his constant barking. She loved that old donkey, though! After supper, Lloydine and I would take the scraps that were all scraped onto one plate out to feed the chickens and the pigs. This was the highlight of our day – feeding the critters.
                While we liked the neighbor’s animals, we were a little bit afraid of their children. They were on the older side, at least a few years older than I, and they were mean to us. While we didn’t have real toys to play with – we did have good imaginations. Lloydine had a pet dog which was really an old glass pickle jar with a string tied around the neck of it. She would pull that thing all around the yard and play like it was real. She even named him Pee Wee. One day we were playing close to the fence between our yards and the boys started throwing rocks at us. One of the rocks hit ‘Pee Wee’ and killed him. She was devastated! We learned to stay more in the center of the yard after that. They couldn’t hit us from that distance. 
                A memory I have of Daddy that summer was when he would mow the grass. It was Johnson grass for the most part with Bermuda grass in the middle of the yard. It would get so high he had to use a scythe to cut it.  Standing in grass up to his waist swinging that scythe back and forth, back and forth, he would work his way up and down the yard.  We weren’t allowed to be anywhere near where he was cutting so my sister and I would stay just far enough back to be safe and watch him.
                Rain was no excuse for coming in the house that summer! That was the only time we were allowed to go in the little storage shed that was built next to the mulberry tree. It was open on one side and we would go in and find something to sit on and listen to the rain fall on the tin roof. It felt kind of like we were playing house. We would stay in there until we could hear our Granny calling us to come out, the rain had stopped.
                One afternoon, as we were trooping out after the rain was gone, Lanita tripped, lost her balance and fell against an old metal bed spring that had been leaning up against the side of the shed. It fell over on top of Lloydine and her head went right up through one of the spring coils. She was stuck and we could not get her head out! I ran for the back door – which remained locked – screaming for help all the way. Granny came to the door, listened to my story and without so much as taking one step outside to see about Lloydine, said she would call someone to come over and get her head out. She called her oldest grandson, Anthony. It took a good little while for him to get there. In the meantime, Lanita and I huddled around our sister – who was crying hysterically – and tried to comfort her until help arrived. Granny’s backyard was certainly not a child safe area and it’s a wonder we were never seriously injured while playing back there.
                                August was when we had our family reunion. It was the Carlton – Hancock reunion in Stephenville, Texas. That was the highlight of our whole summer!! Mother cooked all morning that first Saturday of the month. That afternoon we took baths and put on our pajamas. This is Lanita’s very first memory of Daddy – he gave her a bath and she remembers seeing his arms covered in thick black hair. While she can’t see his face in her memory, it doesn’t matter. She knows it was her daddy.
                 We got in the car with Daddy driving and Mother sitting in front holding Lonnie. We three sisters filled the back seat with the food securely stored in cardboard boxes in the floor board of the car. Daddy stopped for gasoline at the Texaco station and when the attendant came to the window, Daddy said, “Give me five of ethyl.” I’m thinking that must have meant five gallons. We were headed to Stephenville, Texas which was about 100 miles west of Fort Worth.
                It was nearly dark when we arrived at the Stephenville Community Center. Mother had packed a stack of quilts, blankets and pillows and Daddy made beds for us in the gymnasium.  We were so excited to be there that Mother allowed us to run around for a few minutes before we settled down and went to sleep.
                The aroma of coffee filled the air as we woke up the next morning. Mother and Daddy were already awake and sitting at one of the long tables with other relatives. She noticed we were awake and came over to help us get dressed in our Sunday clothes. Mother was already wearing her favorite dress and had on her pretty necklace and earrings. Mother always dressed so nicely. Daddy wore khaki pants and a white shirt with the sleeves rolled up. I asked him why he rolled them up like that and he said because they were torn. He wore his good white shirts to work and to church but kept the old ones until they were absolutely worn out. Everyone dressed up for the reunion in those days.
                Granny and Granddad arrived later that Sunday morning and pretty soon the parking lot was full of cars and the gym was overflowing with families. We watched and waited for our cousins to arrive!! They were all older than we were but Uncle Truman’s two youngest, Mae Ellen and her brother, Dale, were closest to our age and we were so excited when they finally got there. I looked up to Mae Ellen and tagged around behind her. We played in the gym until just before lunch was served. That’s when the photographer came and we all gathered up on the bleachers to take a group picture. I sat on the floor along with a dozen other young cousins while nine bleacher rows filled all the way up to the top behind us with 12 – 16 people on each row.
                A preacher or church deacon in the family would lead in prayer and then lunch was served. There was an enormous amount of food!! Tables were set up end to end the whole width of the building and it’s a wonder they didn’t break under the load. That food still lives in my memory! Fried chicken, roasts, hams, large platters of sliced home grown tomatoes, fried okra, corn on the cob, potatoes of every description, black eyed peas cooked with bacon, fried squash, stacks of sliced ‘light bread’ with jars of jams and jellies. There were pickles and chow - chow and pepper sauce. One table at the end was just for desserts and oh, those desserts! Pies with meringue piled high and lightly browned, cakes, cobblers, cookies of every sort and, best of all – freezer after freezer of homemade ice cream. There were huge galvanized barrels with spigots filled with cold tea and one was full of ice water. There was no air conditioning in that old stone building so it was hot as it always is in Texas during August.  Every drop of the tea and water was gone by late Sunday afternoon.
                After lunch, the mothers would put their children down for naps while the grownups played Dominoes or 42 or just sat around and talked. Daddy would get the blankets back out and we would lie there listening to the hum of voices and before we knew it we had fallen asleep. This day never lasted long enough.
                Shortly after the family reunion, Aunt Irene and Uncle PR came to see us. They lived on a farm out in West Texas. I remember that visit for two reasons - one – Uncle PR taught me an easier way to make up the beds. That was kind of him to pay attention to me and help simplify one of my chores. The second reason is that they took me home with them! I got to spend a whole week in the country. My cousins, Shirley and Jerry, still lived at home but they were nearly grown up by then. I loved being the center of attention and seeing all the exciting things there was to see on a farm. I would only get homesick at night when I would gaze off into the distance and see tiny lights from a faraway town and think, “My mother is where one of those lights are.” While I loved being there, I was ready to go home when the time came. I missed my sisters and brother and my mother and daddy.
                Another good adventure that year was visiting our Aunt Alice and Uncle Truman. It was every bit as much fun to visit them in the summer as it was at Christmas time.  I believe it was Labor Day 1955 when Daddy drove us all out to their place. Mae Ellen was all agitated over an incident that had happened just a few days earlier. Air conditioning was not all that common back then. Everyone left their windows open to let in what small breeze might be blowing. In the early evening, Mae Ellen noticed someone peeking into her bedroom window. She didn’t scream or call for help. Instead, she very quietly slipped out of her room and went to get her mother. Now our Aunt Alice was an amazing woman – hardworking, feisty and fearless! She marched herself in there and slammed down that window, trying to catch the peeping tom’s hands under it. He barely jerked them out in time! He took off running and Aunt Alice went flying out the front door after him. Their yard had a tall cyclone fence around it and that fellow was headed straight for it! He pulled himself up and was trying to jump over it when his feet got tangled up.  He did not make a clean getaway, but cut himself up pretty badly on the sharp wire and they had to cut him down from there and take him to the emergency room!
                We listened to the story and even Mother and Daddy were hanging on every word. Then we were shooed out to play while the adults visited. I confess to being envious of my cousins and their family. Aunt Alice and Uncle Truman didn’t fuss with each other as Mother and Daddy did. Uncle Truman was Granny and Granddad’s only son so he was treated special.  We later learned Granny and Granddad lost their first son when he was three years old so this made Truman even more special. He was a man’s man and was usually building something. He liked to fish and they always managed to live near a lake.

                The summer ended and it was time for me to start second grade. "

It's scary to share life and words.
I think this is something I need to get used to doing.
This is not a finished piece of work.
As a matter of fact - my editor hasn't even seen this.

Still, I am moving on in this book writing process and intend to see it through.
You know, we ALL have a story to tell. Every single one of us.....YOU included.

This afternoon warmed up to above freezing and I went down to feed the goats and check on the critters - mainly Rufus.

Thumper was happy to get some of our 'table scraps.' Otherwise known as FOOD!

So was BBQ! I gave him the citrus peels because he likes them so much!

Pretty birds!
They thought I was bringing THEM something!

They kept prancing up to me and pecking at the bag I had laid on the ground.

I love this bird! It looks like I feel sometimes!

Cluck! Cluck!!

I made my way down to Dean and Sherry's to check on Rufus.

This is Blue - Sherry's dog.
 I had checked on Rufus but he was resting and I didn't want to disturb him.

 I went back down later to take a shower......
and Rufus was awake. He even ate some of the ham I had saved for him.
We think he will be okay.
I whispered in his ear that he should leave that girl dog alone.
She's trouble, I said!

Tonight we had a souped up version of last night's stew.

I added a can of mixed vegetables and a can of diced tomatoes I borrowed from Sherry.

Along with a batch of Red Lobster's Cheddar Cheese Biscuits - that made for a good supper!

Louis Dean was playing and singing tonight!
I caught one song on video.

He's so handsome and charming.
Being holed up for two days in a 31 foot camper hasn't been so bad!!
Better weather is coming!


Joy@aVintageGreen said...

Oh Linda, I have tears - you write so clearly that I could see your 1956 memories through your words. It is so important that you keep writing your book. You pull the reader right into your writing. Hugs.

Deanna Rabe said...

You are a very engaging writer! I’m enjoying you story.

Glad it’s warming up!

Kathy said...

I love your book, Linda. I so want to know what happens next. You write so well that I could picture everything that was happening.

Glad you are enjoying your time at the ranch. Now I understand why you love the animals so much. Hope that Rufus recovers quickly.

Linda said...

Wow Linda, you have found your calling, writing. Excellent excerpt. Did you go through Benbrook, Cresson, Granbury, Tolar, and Bluffdale to get to Stephenville? CPS removed Bob and his twin from a foster home because the woman locked them out of the house during the day. Every word was interesting. It was sad but I was fascinated reading about the glass jar dog and the neighbor kids killing it. Super good stuff.

Ginny Hartzler said...

I am listening to Louis Dean sing. The song is new to me and, so pretty. Sounds like it is in a minor key. He has the most lovely voice, and he controls it well. Knowing when to sing up, and which parts to get quieter. That takes a long time to do right. Your book excerpt; I feel like Louis Dean said. You are such a good writer and story teller. I feel so sorry for that little girl, locked out of so much. But now I know that she is fine and has the love of her life. I imagine you could not write a lot of this without crying.

Ginny Hartzler said...

You know, a similar thing happened to us when I was about five. A peeper right at our bedroom window. My mom screamed, slammed the window down, and called our uncle over.

Bluebird49 said...

It's so very interesting hearing your childhood. There are so many questions I want to ask you. You're making it hard to wait to hear more!!
I feel like the poor chicken looks most of the time, too! Lol.
Please ask Louis Dean of he's ever heard The Country Gentlemen do "The Rebel Soldier"?! My husband and our group of pickin' buddies have done that so many places and times, and everyone loves that song! Please ask him to listen to it on to see what he thinks. The four of us seem to have so many things in common--I think our two guys would play all day and night together! 💗💗

When I was 14, one night I saw a face at my window, too! I flew out to get Daddy, but he was gone before Daddy could get his clothes on. I wonder did that happen everywhere?! Does it still? Yes.

BeachGypsy said...

that stew and biscuits looks SO GOOD! yum! I'm real glad to hear Rufus is doing better, poor doggie! Ya'll are making some great memories there and you're making lots of progress on your book!

NanaDiana said...

I love your story, Linda!!! We used to have big family reunions like that, too, and it was so much fun to play with cousins we never saw otherwise. There were about 5 or 6 of us that were the 'babies' of the group because our fathers had started their families late. You are doing a wonderful job--and yes--it is scary to share our 'real selves' on paper for the world to read. That is the way I felt writing my book, too.

Hope you and LD have a wonderful upcoming weekend. xo Diana

Sandra said...

i could write my entire childhood in about 20 minutes because i have no childhood memories. i share a few that you shared, like the peeper at the bathroom window while mother was in the shower, daddy chased him with a shot gun and it turned out to be a preacher that was in the school daddy was in. you have a wonderful memory to be able to remember all this. I also share the memory of loaded tables full of all those foods.. of course i can remember FOOD. ha ha.. love the chicks and dog picks and glad Rufus is better. both dogs are so sweet i want to hug them.

Miss Dishywoo said...

Your story kept me hanging on every word. From just this little bit you shared today and the parts you've shared in the past, it is evident that God had his hand on your life. I want more!! Your writing is mesmerizing. Thank you for sharing. I know without a doubt that many people will be encouraged from your story.

Arlene Grimm said...

Linda, now I know why you are such a good grandmother! My mother sent us outside but we could come in and out as we pleased. If we hung around in the house, she found us some chore to do so ourtise was One thing that struck me was talking about imagination. My sisters and I were big on Play Houses...we would outline them with rocks, make rooms, visit each other etc. Do children today have the capacity to do that? I look forward to reading more of your book....I am so glad that from the time you were a little girl you felt God's presence in your life. It must have been a great comfort to you. Who is Lloydine? is that Deanie?

Anonymous said...

this was wonderful, I could read your stories all day!!!

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

What a good memory you have of those days. I don't remember a lot of when I was that young. I do remember though that like you we spent a lot more time outdoors and didn't have as many toys as the kids do today. Maybe it was good for us...we certainly did use our imaginations more. Glad you are warming up, we are too. A heat wave at almost 30 degrees today!

Joyce F said...

Great job writing, Linda. Both your book and your daily posts.

Estelle's said...

Clearly your singing handsome husband loves the time spent on the ranch...glad to hear things are going well down there and a warm up is on the way. Your writing is so intriguing made it through the rain.....warm hugs!

Susie said...

Linda, I love when LD sings to you. Yes, He is very handsome and so very kind. Linda, I cried when I read the piece of your book. Maybe feeding critters back when you were a child is one reason you love feeding Dean and Sherry's animals. My heart was broken over the loss of Pee Wee, Deanie's dog. I read that p[art to Ted...he said see many other children lived as we did. Blessings to you and LD. Love you, xoxo, Susie

Mary said...

Linda, I will be first in line to purchase your book. Please keep on writing. I can't wait to read what happens next. Will you include some old photos?
Mary from Quincy, MA

Vee said...

Loved reading your story. The details are so good. Your grandmother! Well that’s all I’ll say about that. 😏 Hope you have a chance to get out in the next day or two...cooped up is only fun for a while.

Teacup in Tokyo said...

I'm with Louis Dean...what happens next? You have a way with words.

Rebecca A. Maynard said...

It's with pride I will hang this new quilt on my wall and be inspired by this great lady.
(I found my old research paper and will keep it handy to be inspired by her story).
electric driveway gates

photowannabe said...

Hi, I'm visiting via Got a Minute or Two and Mad Snapper blogs.
I truly loved the excerpt from your life story. I could vividly picture everything. Can't wait to read more.

photowannabe said...

Thanks for following me too. We have a mutual admiration for Wanda, Sandra and Ginny.
Nice to see new faces.

Carole said...

Linda, enjoyed that bit of your story. One comment - your spirit shines through in your writing on the blog - maybe you could add even more of that into your book. Even though it was long ago, I imagine you reacted to things much the same way you do now... Cheers

Lisa said...

You had me at the “Camper” part. I would love to be stuck in a camper for days! Days at the beach though.
Your story writing is aweswome. Ill be back for more.

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

I feel so honored that you shared this part of your book with all of us. You are something else my friend. What amazing writing...interesting from start to finish! Keep up the good work! Hugs, Diane