Your Mother's Hands (entry 4)


1954-55

I was in the 5th grade. Mrs. Lents was my teacher. The same woman who's daughter I was named after. Classes were getting harder, but I really studied. I enjoyed being in the band.

Mike Lett was my "boyfriend". His Mom picked me up and we attended Boy Scout parties. We learned to dance the Two Step. On Sundays we would go to Dr. Gehl's and learned to square dance by records. There were usually about 30 kids. Mrs. Gehl and Mrs. Lett would furnish refreshments. Sometimes Mom sent homemade cookies. Other times we had Dixie cups. Once in awhile our class had "movies" at school. The Ritz (the theater that my Grandparent's later owned and renamed Ye Opry), showed special features and we'd walk to the theater. I wore dresses, skirts and blouses. I had a couple of cardigans I no longer had to wear socks, or "boy clothes" - and I was starting to "develop"! Oh whoopee--------Ha!

Late 40' Early 50's

During this time, when I was "little', we had a "hukster wagon" come by our house. It was an old dark blue school bus driven by Louis Lyons. Every so often we would buy a loaf of bread and, as I had a little money, I'd buy a popsicle. I'd eat half and save the rest until later. It was 5 cents. Sometimes I'd buy 5 pieces of penny candy, including a piece of BAZOOKA bubble gum. Then I got on a kick where I'd get a Drumstick. That took a dime. Once, Mr. Lyons took the ice cream out and replaced it with a corn cob. Oh, I was mad, but madder still when he laughed! I threw a HISSY FIT and almost got a "switching" to cry about. I never cared for Louis Lyons after that and I really don't think I spent any more of "my hard earned" money on anything that he had to offer!!! I really don't remember much of the hukster wagon after that incident. I do remember Mom buying some canning jar rings from him and she said they didn't seal, so she probably thought things on his wagon were "old". All I know is, even at a young age, if someone "messed me over", I wanted nothing to do with them anymore! And, I enjoyed my DRUMSTICK when I went to town and chose it at a grocery store, or from the ice cream wagon in Jasper when I stayed a few days with Larry or Twala Jean.

Raleigh Man

We had a Raleigh Man who came around several times a year. Mom bought her vanilla from him. She bought a few other flavorings , mainly vanilla. She also bought some cherry flavoring in the summertime to add to water or freeze as slushies. Then Kool-aid came out. The Raleigh Man always gave me a roll of wintergreen Lifesavers. THAT was a special treat. He drove a dark panel truck with decals on it. He wore suit pants, white shirt and tie, vest, and a snap down cap with a visor. I never knew his name. We just called him the Raleigh Man.

Fuller Brush Man

Then there was the Fuller Brush Man. He only came around about once a year. We had a certain oil mop and floor cleaner that we bought from him. He also sold a certain furniture oil that we put on flannel rags to polish furniture and to dust .Mom was a fanatic about DUSTING, and we did have dust on the farm. Oh, how I hated to DUST furniture. Oh, I might as well have gone slowly and done a "good job" the first time, as Mom always found some fault and made me do it over and over............and, over. And, in my opinion, dusting ranked right up there with a whipping. DUSTING=PUNISHMENT!

The Filter Queen

Another special item for the new house was a fancy Filter Queen vacuum sweeper. Now that was the ultimate sweeper, and "my little hands" learned REAL quickly how to run that sucker. One little attachment that I wanted to try out, was the "duster". Well, I should have know that NO attachment would EVER dust well enough to suit Emma Braun !!!!! "Get out the damn oil rag and dust it by hand!!!" The only thing the little duster was good for was to get spider webs out of corners, and even then I had to be careful.

Roller Skates

Our new house had wonderful cement floors and somehow I got a pair of roller skates that strapped on my shoes. (Even when I was a child, I always thought that all of the concrete surfaces at Grandma and Grandpa's were unlike anything I had seen before or since. The basement floors, carport base and porches were all slick as glass. The workmanship was pristine.) I spent hours skating and "twirling" around the support posts in the basement. Bernie had shown me how to fasten them on, check the wheels and to use the "skate key". When I was done skating I always had to put them in a special place, in a box, under the steps. The skate key always had to be hung, on a special nail by the steps. That was the RULE, and that is exactly what I did---NO QUESTIONS. I was NOT going to loose my skating privileges.

Later on I got to go skating at Calumet Lake Pavillion in Jasper on special Sundays with Twala Jean. I LOVED that!

Polishing Shoes

All shoes had to be polished. I'm sure that my brothers polished my baby shoes and my high tops, but I probably learned to polish my own shoes when I was in the second grade. I had black loafer shoes for band. Bernie taught me how to "spit" shine and to use black black cream polish. That was a pretty cool technique. I was later in charge of polishing Dad's dress shoes, too. Dad had two pairs of dress shoes, one for church when he wore a suit, and another when he donned a sport coat or his "casual dress". After he wore his shoes, I'd put shoe trees in them and buff them with a brush. They did not always need polishing. It was important to keep our shoes mice. ( I still use shoe trees to maintain and keep my "good" shoes like new.)

6th Grade

Mr. Howerton was my first male teacher. He was a "serious teacher" and he gave out some paddlings with a wooden paddle, right in the classroom. He made a believer out of me! Classes were getting harder. We had individual chair desks and we put our books underneath. We each had a coat hook outside our classroom in the hall. We were the last class to be downstairs of the two story building. I had nice dresses, skirts, sweaters, and several pairs of shoes. I had a beige wool coat with gray pearl buttons. I no longer played marbles with the boys. I spent my spare recess time going to the high school library to check out books to take home. I really loved to read.

Junior Church Choir

I was in Junior Choir at church. We had practice twice a month. I'd really have to hurry and get my chores done, eat supper and get my homework done so I'd get there on time. After choir practice I could get an ice cream cone at Nigg's Grocery (Haysville). Ice cream was 2 scoops for 5 cents and 3 scoops for 10. Dad and I would get two 5 cent cones to eat on our way home. Even in the wintertime, I'd want my ice cream. We had our little pick up then. In the winter, I'd take a small "throw" as our heater did not put out a lot of heat and would barely run the defroster. It was dark in the country. No security night lights. Sometimes we would be the only vehicle on the road.

1956-58

These two years of Junior High, our home rooms were on the second floor of the Loogootee High School. Mr. Frank Gates was our class sponsor. We had classes in several rooms and lockers upstairs. My favorite outfits included a rust taffeta embossed shirt, rust sweater set and a rust wool "straight skirt" (whoo hoo)!!! I had my first pair of nylons.

I also went to Confirmation School at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Haysville during this time. We went for two years. Dr. Brede was our instructor and it was quite hard, with a lot of memorization of religious and Bible versus. This was EVERY SATURDAY for 2 years. I don't remember anything special about these years, except regular class study, and I felt bored. It seemed like all I did was study, study, study.

My hormones were kicking in gear and I was letting my hair grow long again, and yes I was having LOTS of pimples! Mom bought me Clearasil.

4-H Club

Somewhere around the 5th grade, I joined 4-H. My club was "Cheerful Workers" and we met at the 4-H building east of Loogootee. Other members included Karol Kay Smith, Shirley Woods, Sharon Jones and Charlotte Kerns. There were others, but those girls I remembered the most. We had order of procedure and "program books". We'd open with the Plede to the Flag, 4-H Pledge, America and the 4-H Club song.

"Over hill

Over dale

We will run

The 4-H Trail...………………..

We took our meetings very seriously. We would have a little business meeting and collect dues, and give demonstrations. One time Charlotte showed how to make "tuna salad"., and she brought all chopped ingredients (ready premeasured). She mixed it all in a red Anchor Hocking bowl and made sandwiches which were served with chips at the end of the meeting for refreshments. She also provided the recipe! We explained how to make lots of easy snacks. Sometimes we'd bake and we used the big kitchen at the 4-H building under the supervision of Mrs. Smith. I had a hard time using a gas stove. (Mom never liked using a gas stove, and couldn't figure out why I always preferred one. She viewed an electric burner stove as perfect as you didn't have to gather wood for and it was easily regulated.)

I took clothing my first year. Mom bought me beautiful pink linen material. I trimmed it to a perfect square by "pulling threads". then I pulled threads and stitched by sewing machine along the threader lines, turning corners perfectly! Then I fringed all of the edges. Mine was JUST PERFECT and I earned a Grand Champion ribbon and got to enter it in the State Fair where I got a blue ribbon! This was the BEGINNING of my sewing career, with my "own hands". Everything I sewed was with perfection.

I looked forward to the 4-H meetings every summer and our 4-H fairs. With Clothing 1 completed, I took Clothing 2 the next year. I made an apron, which I never, ever wore, but won a blue ribbon on it. I entered Foods 1 and learned to bake the Butter Cake. Now remember, we had a wood cook stove, so I had to learn to kindle a fire and keep the oven heat regulated!!!!! Our family ate lots of Butter Cakes that year. My first entry-PERFECT-and it, too won a blue ribbon.

I also entered Gardening, kept track of seeds, fertilizer, manure, plantings, cultivating ,hoeing and hand picking. Outlines of gardening rows and crop rotation was tough. My hands did most of the gardening from then on. I kept records

I entered Poultry. Again, keeping very good records. I learned from my Dad. Clean brooder houses. Order chicks and the price paid. Count and record brooder deaths. Feed and "mediations". Hours of daily care and brooder cleanings. Moving all to "chicken houses". Numbers of chickens prepared for food. I won Grand Champiion in 1960 and entered in State Fair----BLACK MANARKAS. They were beautiful. the color of crows with absolutely gorgeous feathers.

I showed Hereford calves a couple of years, but not my favorite. I was not really comfortable showing cattle and keeping them under control.

I was in 4-H many years and won many ribbons and pins. HEAD----HANDS----HEART----HEALTH = 4-H !!!!!

My brothers had been active in 4-H, but it became larger and more attended when I participated in the 50's and early 60's. At first we had only 4-H Fair's but it soon grew in to 4-H and Martin County fair, complete with farm equipment, displays and shows, church tents with food, a Martin County Queen contest, various stage shows, and yes a HUGE carnival. My Dad was also the Perry Township Farm Bureau President and he helped with the opening ceremonies, talking from stage, over a microphone! How proud I was of him. He'd wear summer cotton slacks, white or light blue shirt and tie. He was a good looking man-----------nice hair! People respected him. I never entered the Queen contest but I "modeled " outfits I made with "my own hands', on a treadle sewing machine. The machine did nice stitching and I knew exactly how to run and maintain it.

From the time I learned to play my "uke", I sang on stage at Farm Bureau meetings, both township and district. Sometimes we'd attend district meetings by riding a school bus. We'd pack picnic baskets and have wonderful pitch-in dinners. Mom would get up VERY early and fry all the "nice" pieces of dozens of chickens and we would pack the blue roasters FULL. She'd also make Angle Food and German chocolate cakes, which I too learned to bake and make the icing for and frost. She'd make fruit salad using home canned peaches, sliced bananas, sliced oranges and candied red cherries. We'd pack this in 1/2 gallon glass jars and keep it chilled on ice cubes. It was delicious on a hot summer day. (Grandma Braun made Angel Food cakes frequently until she passed and always with fruit salad. No one has made one that tastes like it since. She always made the "confetti" type and iced it with a homemade powdered sugar and butter frosting.)

The bus rides were HOT and tiring, but we had so much fun and made so many friendships all over the state that continued over many years.

The Martin County Fair

4-H was a great activity and I worked hard on my entries to win ribbons. Dad would help me load up my exhibits and I'd work with my Club making labels for the displays. All of us had good hand writing! Neatness counted, too. There were stage shows. Jarvis Crays and the Hoosier Playboys were the hosts. By the late 50's I had a Silvertone guitar and I could strum and accompany myself. One year I sang "How Much Is That Doggie In The Window". Another year Gene Benjamin played guitar with me. I never learned to play lead guitar, but as the girl who was known to be the 'BASS DRUMMER" in the Loogootee High School Band...……...when I was still in grade school. It was great to be able to sing in front of a large audience and be able to play guitar also. I could belt out some pretty good songs.

One of the more liked shows at the fairs was Sleepy Marlin and Jack, and every year one more boy was added. Sleepy would play the fiddle and Jack the guitar. I sang with them, like I was one of the family. I was probably about 12 at the time. I kept in touch with them over the years.

Then there was the Carnival! Besides the rides, there were all these games of chance. I loved to throw, nickels at dishes for sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, relish and cheese trays and desserts. All foods look nice in a glass dish! I still have matching etched water goblets and some cake platters......pitching nickels with my own little hands.

Skating Rinks

I learned to roller skate with Bernie in our basement with the shoe skates that I buckled on. In high school (Bernie's senior year) they went to Jasper to skate and I got to go along. We rode with Dean Border. I was only 6, but I could skate well. Mom made me a little short circular skirt. I rented shoes at "The "Rink" and I loved to skate backwards. I was the youngest at The Rink. Later on Twala Jean and I went together but she did not enjoy it as much as I did. When I bacame a young teen, I was often asked to skate the couple's skate because I was so good at skating backwards. I was not in to "skate dancing" too much yet, not too boy interested. I just wanted to skate, and backwards and to have the confidence of being with another skater for security. I really didn't realize the guy had "an interest in me".....Ha.

Dad always took me to the rink and came back and picked me up, well in to my Sophomore/Junior year. I loved the music and the open air rinks in the summer! I had cute clothes, ribbons or scarves tied on my long pony tail and I was FAST! I'd beg and beg, "Just a little bit longer". I'd work my butt off with chores so I could go skating.

In the Summer time, Loogootee had an outdoor open air tent rink. Dad took me there once a week and it was fun but not as nice as Calumet. Here I did not have my skating partners. Loogootee kids were already paired up into couples and I just never really "fit in". Kids my age were more into playing around and often had the whistle blown on them and since I was in the age group, I too often had to sit down. Well, that was no fun, so I soon gave up the idea of skating at Loogootee. I only wanted to skate at Jasper!

Go-cart Racing

Go carts became an addition to the outdoor skating rink. Since skating no longer interested me as much, I'd start wandering "down to the dirt track", and finally one afternoon, I waited until Dad left to go to the feed mill, and I convinced the go-cart man that I could drive! Well, yes, I had been driving tractors around the farm for several years. but go-carts were FUN. The first time or so I just went around the track for the "feel" of it all, and it wasn't long before I was out there passing and sliding with the best of them. Like skating, I loved to go fast!

Now for the record, I had enough sense to know I had to stop racing in time so I would be waiting for my Dad to pick me up from the "roller rink".. I'm not sure how I ever pulled THAT off without a whistle being blown on me. First of all I was dirty as all get out by the time I was ready to go home. Go carting was a dusty sport compared to skating. Dad never really questioned me as why I got so dirty. Maybe he had it all figured out and wasn't going to say anything. Mom wanted to know WHY and HOW I could get so dirty. I told her it was an outside rink. With that being said, it was easier for me when I begged to go skating at Jasper. I could go home with Twala Jean after church on Sunday and get in several hours of skating. Twala Jean was always ready to go home after a couple of hours, I think I was having more fun.

After many years, I heard Dad say that he had learned from the Go-cart Man that I was one of the "best drivers out there". I think Dad never said anything and deep down inside, He was probably pretty darn proud of me. Go-cart racing only lasted one Summer for me. Thankfully I never got HURT.