Your Mother's Hands (entry 14)


Summer of 1964

We were friends with Bill and Barb Carrico. Their daughter Rhonda was just a few months older than you. We would put both of you in a tub of water and let you play and play. Then we would put you in the crib on the front porch and you would play and often wear yourselves out and take a nap.

Sometimes Barb and I would make supper and have it ready when the "Dad's" got off work. We'd always have farm meat and fresh garden veggies. Barb made awesome Mac & Cheese! We would play euchre after we ate and many times Kenny and Bill would work on cars or equipment.

We had a nice porch swing on the open "front" porch that faced west and a screened in and windowed porch on the east side of the house where we entered the kitchen. When we kept both doors open, a nice breeze usually cooled the house. On really hot days, we used an exhaust window fan. We never locked a door!!!

When it rained REALLY hard, the near by creek which fed into White River would overflow into the bottom land. It would cover our lower lane with water. Sometimes the "back" water would be up and flooded for days. We often drove our car through the water, but if it was too deep, we would drive a farm tractor through it and leave our cars at the top of the hill.

At first I was a little afraid of driving through the water, but I got used to judging how deep it was, and decided it if was OK or if I would have to use the tractor. You had to be cautious and aware as the "head water" came fast and could wash out entire roads and bridges.

I had learned to listen to the weather report and know when to expect "high water". We would head to the store as we did not want to be without milk, bread, PEPSI's and "cigarettes" for your Dad.

The same was true in the Winter-time. I'd listen to the local news on the radio and the TV news at night.

Channel 4, Bloomington

Channel 10, Terre Haute

Channel 7, Evansville

We had a TV antenna , however, we had to go outside to turn the pole by hand. It was several years before we we got a directional motorized one. There were no remote controls and you had to GET UP to change the channels, then GO OUTSIDE and change the direction of the antenna.

TV went off the air at about midnight!!! Stations played the Star Spangled Banner" and the screen would turn to "snow".

Bernie, Marvel, Mark and Dale came for a two week visit. We all had such a good time together. They came "down to the farm" and I would spend the day time with them at my Mom and Dad's. We would see each other rarely over the years, but I always felt so close to them both. Our time together was very special. We would occasionally talk of moving closer to Bernie and Marvel that eventually relocated in southern California and leaving our "smaller" life behind. Wouldn't that have changed the trajectory of our lives?

By this time, your Dad had gone to work at US Gypsum in Shoals. He was a "wet line lead man" and would come home PLASTERED....! Then your Mother's hands would have to take a knife and scrape the hardened gypsum off his work clothes "before" I could wash them. This was before permanent press anything and I put his pants into "pants stretchers" to get a nice crease in them. He wore a nice clean pair everyday, and that kept me busy!.

Your Dad worked a swing shift, flipping every week and it seemed like he was always very tired.

For our rent on the Kieffner Place, we were to take care of the cattle. Since your Dad worked, I did a lot of the feeding, but I didn't mind.

Bill Kieffner came by a lot and I think he really felt good about someone living in "his house". He enjoyed eating his lunch at the kitchen table and knowing there was always ice cream in the freezer. His favorite was butter pecan.

Fall came, our gardening was done and it was pretty good for our first year. We had a little Halloween Party. Friends came and we had a bonfire, roasting weiners and marshmallows. We were still just 19, but felt so grown up.

Then came Winter time and your 1st Birthday. You were starting to walk. Clyde Brown and his family gave me corduroy overalls for you and I bought matching long sleeved knit shirts and new socks to match. You wore high top gray shoes from Reeney's Shoe Store in Washington.

Your Dad wanted to make your first Birthday cake, and we put it on a foil lined cardboard. It had white and blue icing. Your Dad was always a very good and willing cook. I bought you a blue knit shirt to match. Everything you wore was always color co-ordinated. Even your hand me downs. You were so well dressed!

Hog and Doughnuts

The Ellises fed many hogs and they got day old bread form the Bedford Bread Store by the truck loads. Now this bread was still edible and they selected out items for our usage and we kept some frozen in the freezer all of the time. It was great for toast, French toast, dressing and garlic bread. There were also sweet rolls, honey buns and doughnuts. These were good for dunking in coffee.

Aleva often gave bread to the people who came to their house to pick up their commodity food. Jesse was the Rutherford Township Trustee. (As a child I would go on the "commodity runs" with my Grandpa Ellis. Nearly all of the stops we made were familiar faces and often fellow church members. I knew the "drill" and that these people needed, as Grandpa would say, "a little help from time to time". There was a concrete block building just to the south of their house where the "pantry" food was kept and always looked like a small grocery store. Grandma was frequently welcoming someone into the home and giving them food, clothes or something of need, and often they as a payback or gesture, or to pass to another would bring things to her. I believe this was my first understanding that poor did not necessarily mean lazy and one could be proud and yet hungry. "Fellowship" was a word used frequently in their home and to give when able was a wonderful "prosperity" to share. It was a blessing to be multiplied much as a tithing. We were all of the same people, The same world. The same Maker. It was not just our responsibility, but our gift to care for our Brother. From a young age, this was engrained in me, and to this day, social injustices of any kind disturbs me.)

As I was not working in an office at the time, a few times I drove the truck to Bedford to pick up the bread. When I got home, we would pick out all we wanted, then would pack the truck in the "barn" and feed the hogs from there. They loved it most when it was mixed with mash/slop. We had to "rip" open the bread loaves so the hogs did not eat any plastic bags. I would often go over to do this. I did not take you with me to the hog lots. That was too dangerous and "stinky".

That gave your aunt Betsy and you time to play together. I'd stay for a meal if your Dad was at work and he'd stop on his way home.

I did not have a sewing machine, so I'd use your Grandma Ellises to mend your Dad's work clothes. It seemed like his work clothes always had little tears in them.

Since Jesse was Township Trustee, he was responsible for keeping the county's cemetery's mowed. I helped do it several times. I certainly had "no problem" using a power lawn mower and I trimmed around the tomb stones by hand. He wanted to have all the cemeterys looking nice for Memorial Day, as that day Veterans from the American Legion came around and put flags on the Veteran's grave sites.

Aleva and Vernelta Lingenfelter would always make lemonade, coffee and cookies in the church basement for the men when they were finished placing the flags. There were always others that helped as it was community respect and just something that you DID.

When you were very small, I would put your baby crib in the back of the pick-up and set it up with a few toys. You were always happy just being outside as long as you could SEE US. I'd pack a little lunch for Jesse and me. I did not mind mowing, and made a few dollars, paid out by the Trustee Fund. I've never been afraid to have WORKING HANDS.

I had another "brain storm" while living on the Kieffner Place. There were many clumps of daffodils all around the hillside, which never bloomed because they had always been mowed off , and not allowed to "die back" to nourish the bulbs. So I dug these all up and replanted them down the long lane that led up to the house. All with instruction from Bill Kieffner NOT to mow them off after they bloomed, and all the reasons why!

Mr. Kieffner promised me he would not mow them off!! He thought the world of me, especially since I took such an interest in taking care of "his place".

When he came by, everything was CLEAN. The grass was mowed, garden was growing, flowers were blooming, clothes were on the line flapping in the wind, something was cooking or baking and David and "his dog" were HAPPY!!! Plus, the cattle were well fed, watered and so cared for that they were tame. We petted and "loved on them" all the time and they licked salt from our hands.

January 1965

A girl from Loogootee, Mary Ann Zinkan, also went to Wood Dental Assisting School. She had taken a job after graduation in Washington with Carl O'Connor DDS. She phoned me one evening telling me a friend of Dr. O'Connor needed a "substitute" dental assistant for a few weeks and she told him about me.

At first I wasn't interested, mainly because I did NOT wanto to leave MY BABY. You were 13 months old. Finally she convinced me, and after talking it over and making baby sitting arrangements, etc., I decided to go for the interview. Those weeks changed my life!

James E. Krause, DDS

He was a wonderful and kind man. He was a respected dentist and had a very busy dental office. His wife was Betty Jane, David age 7 and Bobby,6. After a couple of weeks, $1.25 per hour. He asked me to go full time for $1.50/hr. We worked half days on Thursday and all day on Saturdays!

OMG, I had a full-time job making a pay check.

At the time we had a 1964 red Falcon Sprint. It also meant we needed a second car. We made a trade to Don Miller...…….an electric frying pan and $5. YES, FIVE DOLLARS, for a '51 Ford car. This became your Dad's "gypsum" car.

Your Grandparents took care of you. I bought you a little brown suitcase and we would pack it every day with your color co-ordinated slacks, shirt and socks, and a few diapers. You were not potty trained yet, but were starting to "get the idea" of pooping in a "potty" with a potty chair.

I wrapped you up every morning in your thermal footed "jammies" and thermal blanket, warmed my car and away we went. Each Grandparent had a wooden high chair for you. Of course, they all had good food and snacks. You LOVED mashed potatoes!! ( I still do. I will gladly give up bread and pasta for mashed potatoes and gravy....YUM)

This was the beginning of a new way of life.

Now, I am REALLY having to "spin plates", and keep things organized and running smoothly. While your Dad was a good worker, being on a swing shift was hard for him. He was ALWAYS so tired and it seemed impossible for him to hear an alarm clock. More times than one, I'd come home from work, and while he may have been dressed, he fell asleep again and failed to make it to work. He would be just DEAD to the world.

I on the other hand, trained myself. I got up early every day, prepared his breakfast and packed his lunch, got you and myself ready, warmed the car, planned enough time to drop you off at my parent's or Kenny's Mom and Dad's and then drive 19 miles to Washington in time to open the office and prepare two operatories before 8am patients. I WOULD NOT BE LATE.

The dental office closed down for lunch and Joyce and I either ate at Troy's, Heffelstein's Drive-in, Hamburger Jim's or The White Steamer. There were no fast food joints for us at this point. Once in a while I would pack my lunch.

Within a few weeks after starting to work we had a large snow storm. Your Dad had not made it home from work yet and I was afraid to drive out of our drive...…..and possibly unable.to make it through the country roads. Not to mention the 20 miles of hills and drifts over SR237 to Washington. I phoned Dr. Krause, a bit afraid since I really did not know him very well, explaining my fears, etc. and he told me I did not have to try to come in. Joyce lived close, she would come in and see the people that could make it through the storm and they would reschedule the rest. I so vividly remember that he PAID me just the same for that "missed" day, and I realized then what a wonderful man I was working for!

Dr. Krause always went skiing in February and while he was gone, Joyce got the week off. He asked me to come in on Mon-Wed and Friday. and I got all day Thursday and Saturday off and had only worked about 6 weeks. OFF with PAY. I was grateful. I felt appreciated and cared for.

I cleaned and restocked the operatories and really cleaned the lab. I scheduled patients, folded statements and prepared and confirmed the upcoming weeks routines. I did the mail and made deposits of checks that came in.

We had a very nice cleaning lady and she repainted walls and did "deep cleaning" during this time. Her husband had the Texaco station and I had him service our car and he would wash it for free.

I would give them jelly and fresh vegetables from our garden over the years. They enjoyed the produce and it was nice knowing I had someone "on my end" to look after our car. I also bought all drug store items at Williams Rexall Drug Store for the office and a few personal items too while making the trips to save time.

We deposited our checks in the bank, and by then I had switched from the Union Bank in Loogootee to the State Bank of Washington. I would do our personal banking during my lunch hour. They knew me well, as I was doing Dr. Krause's deposits by then also.

If Dr. Krause did not want any money in the office over night, he would have me drop a "night deposit" on my way out of town. He did have a safe in his office, built in where we kept cash for our working day, and his personal papers. He gave me the combination to this safe and I used it accordingly. I never looked through his personal STUFF. I only "put in' and 'took out" the money bag. I respected his position and privacy and in return respected me.

Whenever the doctor took off, Joyce and I took turns covering the office. After you turned two, I took you with me, and he did not mind. You played, "helped me", went to lunch with me, and took your naps in Dr. Krause's personal office...……….on the floor!!! You were always so good.