Friday, November 25, 2005

An Off-the-cuff Serial Autobiography


Chapter the First:
1947-1954

I was born in 1947 to a mill worker and his wife in a very small mill town near Atlanta. My two older sisters had been born before the war. I came along after my Marine daddy got back from the South Pacific. A little sister was born in ‘49.
All I remember from those first three years in Georgia are my best next door neighbor friend, and vague images of taking my Daddy his lunch at the mill with my older sisters, and the surreal sight of a truck loaded with dead dogs during a rabies epidemic.

Daddy accepted a call to ministry and moved us up highways 41 and 27 to Wilmore, Ky, in 1950, so he could finish college at Asbury and begin his career as a Methodist minister. We lived first in “GI Barracks” near the campus where I had my fifth birthday party but was too sick with a bad cold to enjoy it. We had to ford a creek in the car to visit some of Daddy’s church members.

There another sister was born. Daddy served little churches in southern Ohio and central Kentucky during his college days. I started school in little Mackville, Ky. I remember the story of one of my little classmates, a girl, falling into the outhouse pit. I wonder where that woman is now.

I remember walking to school that first day holding on to my mother’s hand. I remember going to the county seat to get my smallpox vaccination.

I learned some cuss words at school and brought them home to the consternation of my parents. Daddy killed big snakes in the furnace room of the church one morning... to the consternation of his farmer parishioners who said the big rat snakes would have been welcomed around their barns.
Sometime during this period we spent the summer in Georgia. We rented a little house in the middle of big cotton fields. I remember a board swing in a big tree that went really high. I remember Mama drying apples and peaches in the sun to preserve them for fried pies and such during later months.
I loved my Daddy’s parents and brothers. They came to Kentucky to visit once or twice. They always made a point of bringing me a big jar of Bama Apple Butter. That was special. Daddy Shaw and the whole bunch came down with food poisoning on one trip. Daddy Shaw loved to regale us with stories. When he talked about that trip he’d always say that he finally just pulled up a bush and took it in the car with him so he wouldn’t be caught without one when the need arose.
Dinners on the grounds at church included a strange dish called “cushaw” that I haven’t run into since 1954. According to online dictionaries it’s a crook necked pumpkin or squash. Anyway, I didn’t like it. I did like “banana croquettes” banana halves rolled in mayonnaise and crushed peanuts -- yum!

From the Fifties Forever website:

BANANA CROQUETTES
Chop or blend: 3 parts peanuts to one part saltine crackers
Cut bananas in half;
totally coat bananas with mayonnaise or salad dressing;
then lightly roll in peanut mixture.
Serve on a leaf of lettuce.


Another treat for the preacher’s kid was the monthly Men’s Club meeting at the little country church where a pot of hotdogs were heated on the potbellied stove. I remember Vacation Bible School when my Dad pulled a trailer slowly around the farm roads collecting children for a hayride to VBS. That was many years before seat-belts and car seats.

And I remember a special lady friend at Antioch church who invited me to sit with her in church. I loved to sing “When the Roll is Call Up Yonder”.

My two older sisters were beautiful and popular. Janice played the piano and was a cheerleader. Joan was quieter and intellectual. They baby-sat me and my two younger sisters. I worshipped them.
As for my younger sisters, I was proud of saving Carol’s life. I bravely slew an evil spider that was aiming to do her in. It was, no doubt, a deadly black widow. I then assumed the role of guardian knight to my younger sisters and have been appalled to discover that they did not always view me in that light.
When we packed the trailer to move back to Georgia there was no room for my sled and, given Georgia weather, my parents decided to give it away. I never forgave them. (j/k!)

1 comment:

  1. I absolutely love reading about your memories. It has always been fascinating to me to listen to my aunts and uncles - raised by the same 2 wonderful parents - tell stories of their childhood. Even though you all share family history, you all gained different things from that history. Thanks for writing about it, so I can learn more about my rich family heritage.

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