On a farm, Northern, Colorado
1945 and 1947
I do not remember my big-little sister, Virginia Ruth being born in August of 1940- as I was only 3 1/2 years old and my brother John Jr. was 2 1/2 yrs old. But I do remember little-little sister, Elaine Mary and little-little brother, James David and the day they were born.
I was 8 years old and my birthday is in April. My little-little sister Elaine Mary was born in April also. I was so happy!
Dad woke me up early the morning April 4th, 1945. “Get up, you have to help me get breakfast. You have a baby sister and her name is Elaine Mary.” “WHAT?” I said in disbelief. “Where did she come from and where is MOM?” “She’s in the hospital with Elaine, so you have to help me.” Always being proud to “help Dad” I jumped up – grabbed my clothes and headed for the warmest place in the house to get dressed – in the kitchen, in front of the old wood-coal cook stove.
One of Dad’s jobs was to keep the stove hot and at night by “banking it.” Filling the cavern of the stove with a few corn cobs, a small layer of wood and sticks, then a layer of coal. Shutting the door, he would turn down the damper and let the stove do the rest. In the morning with glowing coals in the bottom of the stove, he would open the damper, put more coal on the glowing coals and shut the door and “lett’er cook.” The stove got hot – the coffee pot perked and the smell of coffee drifted through the house.
Dads biggest production for breakfast was oatmeal! He loved oatmeal and he pretended he did not hear us when we said, we did not want very much, as he would pile 4 big spoon fulls of the gray-gluey glop into our bowls. (He boiled in on top of the hot wood stove, stirring and stirring until it was glop!) The best part of Dad’s oatmeal was the cold thick cream he poured over the top and a big spoonful of sugar on top of that. We had to eat every bite! For years and years I did not eat or make my kids eat oatmeal, unless there was nothing left in the house to eat. Now, in my 70’s, that hot oatmeal tastes pretty good, but my Dad would frown at what I added to make it good tasting. Cinnamon, Craisins or cherries or blueberries, sometimes prunes added. After it “cooks” in the microwave for one and half minutes, then the cup of oatmeal gets yogurt and crushed walnuts or pecans. Now that’s the way I eat oatmeal!! The closest thing to my childhood and thick cream, is at Christmas time, pouring eggnog and a sprinkle of cinnamon on my cherry-walnut-oatmeal.
That morning of the birth of my little-little sister, Elaine, my Aunt Ruth came to help Dad with the rest of the chores of the day and baby sit my big- little brother, Sonny (John Jr) big-little sister, Ginger and me, the oldest. We had so much fun with Aunt Ruth!! She had a constant smile on her face and always giggled and laughed at anything we did. She made the worst of chores fun. She read and sang to us. She also had fun, with my help, finding things in “Mom’s Kitchen.” A place that Mom kept perfectly spotless-clean and everything in order. Auth Ruth would put one of Moms aprons on and tie one on me. She would push the kitchen stool up to the sink, so I could help with the dishes or mixing up pancakes for breakfast,…( Yeah! no Dads oatmeal!) …or pealing potatoes for supper. I never wanted her to leave after she stayed and helped Mom with “the new baby.”
I spent most of my time begging to hold Elaine, with her curly brown hair and cute little noises. Mom had a rocking chair in the corner of the kitchen and I had to sit down in it and then the baby would be handed to me. I rocked and sang to her until she went to sleep. Aunt Ruth or Mom would pick her up and take her to the bassinette in the bedroom. When ever Elaine was awake I wanted to hold her. My Mom would tell me to “put her down- you are spoiling her!”
Then Dad woke me up, the morning of October 1, 1947 and repeated. “Get up and help me fix breakfast. You have a baby brother and his name is James David.” And I repeated…. “What! Where did he come from and where is Mom?” This ten year old once again helped Dad with the oatmeal and when Aunt Ruth arrived to help in Moms kitchen. Through laughter and smiles we fixed meals, washed and dried the dishes. We put clothes on Elaine Mary and Ginger and I got to baby sit her while Aunt Ruth was busy with household chores. Then she would sit down with Sonny, Ginger, Elaine and me and read to us. I would beg to hold and feed Jimmy with his brown hair and big brown eyes. And once again Mom would scold me “Put him down-you are spoiling him!”
My job got more complicated as Jimmy got to the point he could walk. Actually he never walked – he ran. Out doors in the sunshine when he was three, he could “dista-peer” at a blink of an eye. He was my hand full. I could swing Elaine for hours but not Jimmy. He was on the move and never stayed in one place. He figured out how to climb trees, hay lofts and tractors. He never minded fences, as he ducked under them and was off to see what Dad was doing in the fields.
I enjoyed my sisters and brothers. Ginger had long, thick, wavy auburn hair that I loved to brush. Elaine had curly brown hair I loved to comb and put ribbons in. I had white fuzzy, straight as a string, hair that I combed, but it really did not matter as it was fuzz no matter what. My attempt to cut Jimmy hair, with a big dull kitchen shears…. well, Dad never said anything, but he took him out of the highchair, put him in the pickup and headed to town to the barber shop! Those big kitchen shears “dista-peared.”
We have all gotten older and have families of our own. I appreciate I have them in my life. Sometimes I would like to hold and rock them again!
Oh.. by the way – I was reminded by Aunt Ruth’s daughter, Barbara Faye Scott, that her Mother called me “Edith Ann” also! Yes she did! Thanks for jerking my memory into this story!