Sunday, October 04, 2009

Stories from my Memaw, Sallie Johnston

During the summers, we would all leave Centerville and head to California to work. There were canneries, sugar beet factories, and all kinds of work. We started going out there when I was in the 9th grade because there wasn't any work here. It was during the depression. Mama saved up $500 and bought a Studebaker car. She would take groceries and we'd never stop at restaurants or motels. We just would stop along the side of the road and she'd cook something. One time when we were going out there, we'd had a big meal of ham and eggs and stuff and Johnny Boo (my younger brother) rared back and said, "Oh, what a life! :)" We would go out in the springtime and come back in the fall. Once Johnny and I came back with someone else. It was two men that we knew that were going to TN. We came back to start school.

Years before, back when Grandma and Grandpa Keeling lived in the Shinn Mountains in Pope County, (past Russellville), they homesteaded up there. We would leave Centerville in a wagon.  It wasn't a covered wagon because wagon sheets were expensive.  We went through Dardanelle, Russellville and I think through Dover. We'd leave early in the morning and we wouldn't get up there until late that night. We'd get out and run along the side of the road when we'd get tired of riding. We didn't get to go very often. It would be like making a trip to California or New York nowadays. Sometimes, they'd water the wheels of the wagon to lubricate them to make it less likely that they'd break. It made the wood swell up so they'd stay on. *Tataw piped in- we just had wagons to go into town until my sister, Mary worked in the creamery long enough to save up and buy a Model T. It was enclosed and it was a 1 seater. She had it for a while and then she bought a '28 Chevrolet. It was a better car. Then she got married and later, they bought a '33 Chevrolet. They drove it until '42 and then they bought a new '40 Chevrolet.

When I was little, mama sent me, Johnny and his girlfriend, to bring in some stovewood. They started throwing wood at me.   Momma had to come out and make them leave me alone.  I was probably about 6 or 7 years old and Johnny was a year younger.

 When we lived at that same place, we had a bunch of sapling trees. Boug and Leonard would bend down the trees and put me in the top of them. Then they'd let it go and I would go flying in the air.  If I cried, they would tell me that they wouldn't let me play anymore.

I had a hard time keeping up with my brothers. They were really rough.   I was little and I didn't weigh 100 lbs. until I was about grown.  Usually, Leonard would start things.  He might just come along and hit me in the back of the head.  It didn't hurt, but it would make me mad.  Then Leonard and Boug would get into a fight because Boug was always taking up for me.  They were both pretty good fighters.  They didn't usually pick on Johnny Boo.  They must have picked on me because I was the only girl.  I had to play as rough as they did.

I started school when I was 5 and didn't turn 6 until January. I didn't know how to act.  I got up and went to the trash can to throw some paper away.  The teacher got onto me and the boys teased me.  I didn't go back to school another day.  Mama would take me to school and every time she would turn around to go back, I would go back, too.  She had a switch and she would whip me all the way back home, leaving whelps on my legs.  This happened a few times.  Then she would get me ready to catch the bus because the boys rode the bus.  I just refused to go.  I was so hard headed that I didn't end up going back to school that year.

Once when I was in the 6th or 7th grade, we were playing ball at school.  The teacher was trying to make me apologize to Mary Ellen George over something.  Every time, I'd say, "Mary Ella, I'm sorry, but I'm NOT..."  She never did get me to apologize without saying, "I'm NOT."  You talk about hard-headed...

I would stay with my aunt Rosie and Uncle Jess' house a lot.  My cousin, Elnora was their daughter and we were very close.  Once on the radio, they said the world was coming to an end.  I decided I wanted to be home with my brothers and my parents if that was going to happen, so Jess had to take me home. It scared me a lot.  I was all right after I got home, though.

Then I married Bud and he was the only boy in his family.  His dad was content to have just girls.  He said he didn't know what his wife would want with a boy because he was satisfied with all girls.  

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