Wednesday, January 11, 2006

A Trip Down Memory Lane

Thinking about the great flu of 1918 led me to thinking about my grandparents and how much they shaped my life. If there is any good in me, it is because of them.

My grandfather was born in 1877, grandma a few years later. She had been a nurse before they married; he had no education at all. She was disowned by her family for marrying “beneath her station”, but they raised five kids below the poverty line and spent a lifetime together.

I experienced their lifestyle because I lived with them for a number of years as a child. They had retired from the farm to a small clapboard house that the town fathers had built on half an acre of land deeded from the community fairgrounds for my great, great grandmother. She was the first white woman to settle in the area. Ownership passed down through her line to my grandmother. My parent’s generation sold the property because it could not be divided into five parcels. The house stood until I was well into my twenties and I have such fond memories there. There was no water on the property, nor did they have electricity. My grandfather’s sister and family lived across the street and all water was dipped from her well and lugged across the road. It was heated with a wood cook stove. A Coleman lantern and coal oil lamps provided light. There was a barn, small trap shed, smithy and carpentry shed on the property. They had a cow, chickens and an old retired workhorse. Grandma sold butter and eggs when she had them. They also grew a small garden, with golden bantam corn being the main crop, sold at the roadside. Grandpa made axe handles and did a little woodworking and blacksmithing to supplement their meager income. They trod gently on the land, taking only what they needed. Their motto could well have been “Fix it up, use it up, wear it out, or do without”. They taught me that poverty is not a financial limitation, but a barrenness of spirit. They were rich in all that matters.

My grandmother passed away when I was around twelve, grandpa at the age of eighty-seven in nineteen sixty-four.

I am now past sixty myself, and I treasure those memories of a simpler time.


George Breed said...

Yes, ma'am, it has changed tremendously. About 2 1/2 billion folk on earth when we were young'uns. Now about 6 1/2.

I appreciate your family history. we grew up in similar fashion. We were very rich and dirt poor.

Zareba said...

Hi '"George, we are truly blessed with having grown up with so much riches. I look around at all the poverty of spirit, even when there is no lack of financial security, and I wish with all my heart that I could share the riches I have been blessed with...Z