A wake-up slap on the butt is a different story than being knocked to the ground by a large hand to the side of the head. Where, in the sequence of time, does age decide the punishment or the reward? Growing up is a process and learning the hard way isn’t always a choice to be made.
Starting off as the result of a teen pregnancy in the 1950’s, a bundle created by two people in love and unaware of their futures. Dreams and ambitions seemed simple when a dwelling and small parcel of land sporting an outhouse could be bought for $500.00 in Vermont. Anyone would worry about the baby coming home and where it will fit in, as the family structure is expanded by one. I was one of those welcomed but surprise guests that entered the world with a few months under my mother’s belt before the wedding. Grandparents in turmoil about where everyone would live, added to the tension which would surely make the roof over head spring a leak if the “new” family didn’t find their own place. That’s when the parcel with dwelling and outhouse came in. Ahh, privacy and a new roof over our heads. Our lives beginning in the family home which would eventually become, “The Old House.”
There I am in a black and white photo, dad without a shirt, mom in a dress and me, well me without anything covering anything. Hmm..who authorized that print? It’s less embarrassing to see me dressed in front of the old house kitchen door.
As I look at the scrapbook and relive the things I remember and wonder about the things we lived without, I begin to feel lucky to know what a pot was really used for, and understand how difficult the chores were for my mother as she took on the task of raising a child when she was 17.
Three rooms and a bath would have been the term for most homes but we had 3 rooms and a path. Our running water wasn’t really running, it was a basic drizzle into an 8 quart pail under the faucet. No hot water. If anyone needed hot water it was to be heated on the kerosene kitchen stove in a pan and added to the graniteware bowl on the kitchen counter. When dishes were to be washed, the water was put in a dipper and then a rubber stopper in the sink held the water to be mixed with enough cold so as not to get scalded. My mother was a fanatic about getting the dishes done. Bathing was basically always sponge baths for the adults or in the sink for the toddlers. Privacy meant keeping everyone out of the kitchen while the bath was in progress. To us it was normal and I never knew the difference. I just thought the people we visited with the real modern conveniences, like flush toilets and hot water faucets, were rich.
(c) Rick Wyman