Your Mother's Hands (entry 17)


By now, I had cleaned up the bedroom off the kitchen at the Kieffner place. We painted it a light lavender, put down new floor covering and bought a dark gray Hollywood style 3 piece bedroom suite. We bought two large heavy "cardboard" wardrobes for our clothing and shoes. Then you had a new twin bed in the "guest" bedroom and extra space for toys and books. I even let you keep your tricycle in the house, as there was plenty of room, or I would carry it to the basement when I did laundry and you could play. The weeks that your Dad was on second shift, we would "play" late and wait for him to come home. We'd have really late suppers.

It was a good thing that I could balance time pretty well, as I really did not get much sleep at all. I would get up early to start all over again as someone had to maintain some semblance of a schedule. Swing shift was so hard on your Dad, but we made it work.

Church Stories

One time, Bus Stevens (the minister at Truelove Methodist church where the Ellises attended) was reading from the Bible and said, "...…..and David...…….did, and my David, after hearing his name loudly answered Bus by saying...………"No, No, No"----------- Another time, Bus was talking about the tide, and you said, "Tides in. Dirts out!"

Oh how you loved the "Penny March". Your aunt Patty played the piano and we "marched" up front and dropped our money into the little white church container, down its chimney. The little white church that your great uncle Melvin built. You wanted lots of change so you could hear it "clink". You were so excited for the Penny March and were always looking for change for Sunday morning.

Truelove church had lots of pitch in dinners. Aleva and Vernelta Lingenfelter did most of the main cooking and others made covered dishes, salads and deserts. Aleva made LOTS of "instant" mashed potatoes. One time while Bus was saying the blessing before we ate, you were already digging into your Grandma's mashed potatoes. You said, "Hey sompthin' is a matter with deez tatas………!!!!!" You had usually eaten REAL mashed pots, and thought instant one's tasted funny. Actually Aleva made really good instant ones. Maybe Vernelta made these...……..HA! As in most all things that Aleva made, an extra stick of butter made everything BETTER. Both of your Grandma's were wonderful cooks and loved to keep you happy. They would let you "help" and luckily grew up to be a wonderful cook, as is your Dad. It may not always be fancy, but there is always an extra "tater" in the pot and are always willing to share.

One of the deserts that I really liked at these meals was Ethyl Parson's persimmon pudding. There were several persimmon trees on the Kieffner farm and I'd pull your wagon with several buckets in it and pick them up. I found another one by the barn. I'd spend hours rubbing them through the colander, and freezing boxes of pulp so we could enjoy the pudding throughout the winter. Persimmon pudding, REAL whipped cream off the farm and a pot of fresh perked coffee. What a treat! but, it was WORK and you had to know just when they would be ripe, plus beat the "critters" to the punch. Pick them. clean them. Rub them. Freeze them. They have a unique taste, but can taste it by just thinking of it. So good.

I made lots of frozen strawberry jam. I picked many gallons of strawberries. Mom and Dad had several ACRES of berries, but when they sold the farm and built their new house, they only had a small patch, so in order to have enough to freeze and make jam, we went picking at Ahren's in Huntingburg. Then I had to spend several evenings "working" them up, and lots with short cake and, yes fresh whipped cream. Oh, how YOU loved strawberries. You'd sit in Grandma Braun's patch and just eat them off the vine. They were so sweet and juicy, and not at all like store bought. Nothing since has tasted like the food from your own piece of "earth" and made with love. We have always had a garden, and I'm happy that you've carried that on. I think that your little garden at your downtown house made me the happiest. I loved how you would give the homeless tomoatoes and veggies from your backyard. We raised you RIGHT.

We had a freezer on our back porch. I kept it pretty full all of the time. In late summer, I peeled a couple of bushels of peaches and cold packed canned them. We bought Red Haven's and they made really rosy pink juice. I loved seeing my cans lined up on the shelves in our basement. It looked like a little country store and always smelled like clean clothes. We would "play" store and you would take your "doggie" everywhere and always share anything you were eating and just giggle.

Once Jesse (Grandpa Ellis), went to a canning "factory" in Austin Indiana. He bought canned foods by the cases. We got that at a much cheaper price than at the Jay C store. We all "chipped in" money and made our lists. I did not like the taste as well as some name brands, but I got used to it. Your Dad liked hominy. That was one thing that I never really liked, but learned to make it just so for him. I learned to make mush, packed it in loaf pans, sliced it, fried it and served it with warm syrup. It made a great late supper on a cold wintery night.

I simmered a lot of chili, potatoe soup and homemade vegetable soup. I made lots of dutch oven meals and was always baking cakes, cookies and brownies.

I packed huge lunches for your Dad. There were no microwaves yet, so it was sandwiches, baked goods and fruit. You would eat ANYTHING we put on your plate. I don't remember you not liking anything. While other little kids could get picky, we could take you anywhere and you would smile, eat and say Thank You. That was wonderful.

We had PLENTY of food......, and we fed LOTS of people.

One of your Dad's friends from Gypsum was John Mounfords. His wife Sherre was a bit "lazy". Do you remember taking a bath with little Lance? He POOPED in the bath water! You saw it and said...….."It's yellow and green! What's he been eatin'...?" John's parents had a cabin at Shoals and we went to it a few times.

Gypsum Board

When Gypsum had a board change or a break down, there were lots of damaged boards. They were thrown on a pile and workers could "take" them. By this time your Dad had a pick-up truck for his GYP VEHICLE, and he hauled home boards and we stored them. Your Dad and Grandpa repaired many homes in Rutherford Township, repairing walls and building in porches, as well as new room additions. Many homes were improved and made warmer and nicer using this Gypsum board.

Then your Dad started doing some plumbing and adding running water to homes, redoing kitchens, putting in bathrooms, laundry rooms, etc. He added heating and installing oil furnaces to homes that previously only had heating stoves. Many times I'd go to help. Just a new line of work for Your Mother's Hands.

So, I was a dry wall board picker. I could tape board, "mortar"...…...I sanded, primed and painted.

I learned plumbing "lay outs" and tools. I studied PVC pipe, connections and adhesives. I learned about copper and galvanized pipes.

I picked up a bit about furnaces and BUT's. I had to figure out sheet metal and the difference from right and left cutters.

I paid attention to wiring and electrical current.

My hands have always been "helpers' and yet, clean healthy hands with PRETTY NAILS.

It seemed like we were always busy, working at our home or out helping someone else.

We did enjoy fishing and started trot line fishing on the White River up by Hindostan Falls. Now I don't remember just how that got started, but we eventually bought a fiberglass flat bottomed jon boat, and a nice sized Mercury motor. We would pull our boat up to the boat launch and "slip" it into the water, put in our floats, hooks and bait, and run the boat up stream from the falls to put out our lines. We'd fasten the lines to huge rocks or large limbs.

We'd make dough ball "bait", use mussel meat or chicken parts. This bait would attract catfish. Sometimes we would catch river perch. We'd take the fish home and clean it. We would have wonderful fish fries with lots of Aleva's hush puppies, cole slaw and potatoe salad. Those Summer nights with lots of sweet tea. I'd do it again. Over and over.

We fished White River for years. It was one of my favorite things to do.

We even went camping over night at our "launching" sites. We'd pack picnic lunches. Sometimes we made a camp fire on the river bank and roasted weinies. We would sleep in the boat.

We'd dress up warm, and had camping blankets, hang our Coleman lanterns near by to light up our area.

One night we were asleep in our boat, woke up and realized we were floating down the river...…..TOWARD THE WATERFALL. That was an exciting few minutes as we rowed ourselves out of the current and back up stream to our campsite. It could have become a tragic situation had we NOT awoken when we did!. Your Dad and I couldn't swim and you had not yet taken lessons. Each time we went out in our boat, we were cautious to wear life jackets, but were definitely guided by our GUARDIAN ANGELS.

We were about the only young couple that had a boat and motor and also camped out. I really enjoyed fishing and our times out in the boat.

I loved "running the lines" early in the mornings, with the fog gently hovering just above the water. The birds would be waking up. slowly, we would guide our boat along our lines and bring in our fish with a dip net. We would "rebait", then in the late evenings we would go and run the lines again and rebait again.

We sometimes "ran our boat" all the way up to Shoals. It was quite a way, and yet would often just sit in the boat and "float down river", We'd see deer drinking, turtles on logs, snakes crossing the current, fish jumping and lots of critters. We would just relax. It was so peaceful along the bluffs. Such good memories,

( I remember these times so well. As much of our history at some point seems to morph into a "memory of a memory", I have pretty good recollection from about age 2 1/2 on. I have memory of Mom and Dad from age 20. They were still children in some eyes, yet seemed so adept and competent. The few times that I longed for a more mature level of caring and unconditional love, I had all of my grandparents close by, that actually were raising us all. I had young parents that I was jumping off a cliff with and loving, understanding grandparents and their brothers and sisters as well as their children to catch me when I fell. This was the perfect combination, atleast for me. I believe we choose our parents for what they have to teach us, and since I was so fortunate to have multiple layers of LOVE...…………...I chose well.)