March 17, 2005

Carver Creek Walkabout, Part 1

Sometimes it's hard to imagine the primitive conditions we tolerated in Missouri, especially the first couple years when we were in our pre-teen years. Our house was open to winter's blast and summer rains. Our toilet was a neighbors outhouse a half mile down the path, surrounded by spiders, snakes and scorpions. We had a small sink attached to a wall, but no water. We had no electronics of any kind because there was no electricity. We cooked on a big bellied stove that got so hot it almost burned the house down. Or, if the fire went out in the winter time, we woke to everything cold and frozen.

Yet, I don't remember Sandra or I complaining. Instead of brushing our teeth at night, we pulled out the chamber pot. In place of warm pajamas, we put on extra sweaters and even our coats on the coldest nights. We piled the bed high with all the clothes we could find. We snuggled close and when one of us turned over, the other turned too so we would stay a bit warmer on both sides!

Breakfast was usually one pan of something cooked on top of the stove. Usually corn meal mush or maybe grandma's all-time favorite, tomato gravy and biscuits. I always wished I hadn't seem so many big green worms on the tomato plants and all those wiggly little worms in the flour jar!

We did have was the unconditional acceptance of several families that lived along the creek that bordered our house. Like a horseshoe, we lived between two crossings of Carver Creek and if the creek came up after a rain, we were stranded there until the water went down.

We were about in the middle of the 5-mile stretch of gravel road. The first house was the home of a middle-aged couple named Vernon and Juanita. I believe both have passed on, so I can be honest and say he would be listed today as a child molester. His wife was diagnosed by the state as legally insane and they lived on her disability income. They were the only family on the creek to have a TV and we would beg grandma to let us walk there on Sunday afternoons to watch Lassie Come Home. Vernon would select one of us and sometimes he insisted that both of us sit on his lap and watch TV. We tolerated his lap and his wife's strange behavior for a few moments of watching a normal family life on TV.

Next down the dusty road was the Jimmy Jordan family. They lived in a little white house with a roof that was probably not over 5 feet high. It was small even to Sandra and I at that time. Mary kept the house clean and warm! Their epileptic daughter, Lilly, was our best friend. They had lots of chickens and plenty of eggs! I think the hen house was bigger than their home! They had a little wood stove in the middle of the tiny, tiny living room and a big cook stove in the kitchen. Mary could cook some delicious meals and we lived for the after church times when she would invite us over for for Sabbath dinner!

Jimmy played the fiddle like an Ozark Mountain Master! We were always mesmerized by his bow flying back and forth and his foot keeping time with the music. My book will provide some titles to some the songs he played.

When Lilly wasn't busy helping her mother with scrubbing clothes, canning food or cleaning the house, she would walk down the road to our house. We knew she was coming down the road because we could hear her "hen-cackling" laughter from a long way off. Lilly's infectious laugh was sweet music to our ears! She laughed at everything - sometimes imagined - but clearly funny in her mind.

Sandra and I would dance with delight when we heard her laughter as she rounded the corner of our road. We knew she would take us for long walks in the woods and show us eatable plants and good mushrooms. We would come home with tasty greens for salads and mushrooms to be sprinkled with seasoned flour and fried to a golden brown.

But Lilly was prone to frequent massive seizures. Many times our happy outing would end with her having a seizure in the woods or on the road. We learned to sit and wait until she woke up and we would help her back home knowing that she wouldn't be out and about for a day or two.

There were several other very interesting families on down the road. I will post more about them later and I hope you are enjoying my little book.

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