It may sound like we were poor, but we weren't
I often hear myself saying, “I’m so happy I’m not raising children now.”
There are many reasons — the least of which is the price of buying a pair of tennis shoes or a hand-held electronic device. The times, they are a changin’.
I was born in the Midwest in the ‘30s, the youngest of 12. Tennis shoes were probably available in the cities, but not in the country. Pop would put new soles on our one pair of shoes when needed.
I once lost favor in my mom’s eyes over a pair of shoes. I was a sophomore in high school and had found a job to earn money for school shoes and clothes. I had the joy of my life when I went to town to spend my money. But when I came home with a pair of dark blue, leather, lace-up wedgies with open toe and heel, I was sent to my room to think about what I would do when the snow fell and my toes and heels were wet and cold.
Being a mother who couldn’t stand to see us cry, Mom let me keep the shoes, and yes, I was very sorry in December.
A happy moment was when I found three matching flowered feed sacks. This meant Mom could make me a dress and have enough fabric to put on a couple of ruffles. My sweet father would grumble a bit, because the feed he needed was one of each kind and nothing about matching. I remember Pop giving in to Mom many times, which may or may not have anything to do with having 12 children.
You may hear an undercurrent of “poor country folks,” but that is not the case. Poor has many connotations and did not relate to us. We were never hungry. Everything we needed was somehow provided from the 75 acres that produced crops to feed the animals and various foods to fill our stomachs and the underground cellar every fall.
My folks worked very hard to make our survival something we didn’t have to worry about. The lack of running water and electricity just made a few more jobs for us kids to handle. Some of the things we had to do were carry in the wood; fill the water tank on the wood stove; gather the eggs; help with butchering; herd the wily turkeys back into the yard; clean the milk separator and churn the butter, plus take care of the larger animals, some of which provided our food and transportation.
And, yes, without making much ado about the fact, we all loved our parents, as they did us. I wouldn’t change a thing, except I wish Mom hadn’t stayed up late to watch me get my first kiss at the back screen door when I was 16. The scolding started with, “Young Lady!”
Nancy R. Fox lives in Central Point.