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Those Good Old Days

1900's Good Times

By Patricia KennedyPublished 6 years ago 7 min read
two young girls in the washtub.

In those good old days we talked about, we lived on a little farm in a three roomed house on a hill side. I loved its rustic charms. Its roof homemade shingles, big cracks in the floor, no curtains at the window. No screen on the door.

The flies came in and swarmed about as friendly as could be. Often times they lift upon our food or fell into our tea. The dogs and cats came in the room. They watched you while you ate. As soon as you had left the room, they came and licked your plate. Now mama didn't much like that. She'd run and get the broom. You should have seen those dogs and cats go scattering from the room.

Now in our little three roomed house we only had two beds. My sister slept down at the foot us boys up at the head. Our parents used the other bed. Them and our baby brother. We wondered what on earth they'd do if they should have another.

Then sure enough another came, another and another. Our beds were now so full of kids we were about to smother. Pa had to get another bed. There was no way around it. For if just one more baby came they might just have to drown it.

Pa had a little attic room stored full of beans and taters. Big piles of onions on the floor, canned peaches and tomatoes. He put at bed up there for us. The room was awful hot. But us boys didn't mind that much till that stuff began to rot.

The awful smell that filled that room would make the demons weep. But we had no place to go, so we just went to sleep. When morning came our pa would call, come boys help do the chores. It sure felt good to breathe fresh air when we got out the doors.

Our beds were made of hay or shucks. Sometimes of clean wheat straw. We had big fat leather bed, it was for pa and ma. We didn't have a bath tub or what you call a stool. In summer, we took a bath in our old swimming pool. The winter, they were awful cold of course our pool was frozen. Then ma would bring the wash tub in and set it by the stove. She made us kids a bath, the water got so thick. Before we all were finished, you could have scarce stirred it with a stick.

Pa kept a herd of nice milk cows, he kept about nine or ten. Twice every day us boys would go and drive those critters in. Now milking cows was lots of fun, back in those good old days. We'd sit down on little stool then milk and milk away. Sometimes old bossy was really nice, there while you filled your pail. Sometimes a fly would bite her she'd swat it with her tail. Every so often her tail was full of burrs. Sometimes she'd miss the fly. She'd swat you in the head or maybe in the eye. Now and then she'd kick the bucket spilled the milk all over you. But you just didn't dare to cuss, You knew what pa would do. If mama ever found it out, she'd wash your mouth with soap. You'd never let her hear you cuss, unless you were a dope.

Now pa bought a new but strange thing. Some kind of machine. It had two spouts. One for the milk, the other for the cream. The milk we used to feed the pigs, the calves and chickens too. If you were lucky there might be a little left for you.

Now when the chores were all done up, we seldom went to school. Instead, we went out on the field to catch our old Grey mule. He'd let you get real close to him, and then he'd break and run. He'd make you chase him for an hour. That mule sure had some fun. Then after you had chased him, till you were almost dead. He'd stop dead still and let you put the bridle on his head.

Sometimes back in those good old days the summers were so dry. Pa couldn't raise enough to eat no matter how he'd try. Then he would go out with his gun and kill a big fat bunny. Though the rabbit dumplings aren't that good, they sure did fill our tummies.

If you got sick, no matter what was ailing you, by heck our ma would bring some castor oil and pour it down your neck. One time us kids all got the itch we really had it hard. Pa bought a box of sulfur and mixed with some lard. He smeared that stuff all over us. Somehow that awful smell that rose when you got near the fire reminded us of hell.

Our nearest doctor lived about twelve miles or so away. But if you were about to die he'd hitch onto his shay, and come right out to see you. If you weren't dead he'd feel your pulse and thump your chest. Then he would shake his head. He'd leave some great big bitter pills and lots of powders too. You were quite sure they would kill or cure what ever is ailing you.

Our parents didn't tell us kids about the birds and the bees. But when the stork was on its way pa started gathering tea. He dried a lot of catnip then stored it on the shelf. What pa didn't tell us kids, we figured out ourselves. There was one thing, I must admit that puzzled sis and me. Why did ma lock a dresser drawer then always hide the key? One day she went with my pa to town, now was our chance to see. To find out what was in that drawer if we could find the key. At last, we found it hidden well behind grandfather's old clock. But when we opened that drawer we really got a shock. For not a thing was in that drawer but just a little box. And way back in the corner a pair of pa's old socks. In the box rolled nice and neat, what looked like small little balloons. We blew them up and played with them most of the afternoon. When they got back, pa tanned our hides then chased us from the room. We both were grown before we knew that those things were not balloons.

By now I guess you wondering why folks had kids against their will. You see back in the good old days they didn't have the pill. But I'm really glad they didn't have it, because it just might be. That if they could have prevented it there would be no me. Then too, it's sort of nice to have a lot of close relations. Living up and down the land when you go on vacation. Free beds, free meals, and everything. You don't need any money. When they all pile in on you, it isn't quite so funny.

It didn't take a lot to live, back in those good old days. It didn't take a lot to die, the neighbors dug your grave. They made the clothing that you wore. They made your caskets too. They put you in the wagon, hauled you off and buried you. Then they all gathered around your grave, to bid their last farewell. You'd think the way they carried on, they knew you were in hell.

But people were good neighbors then. Not like they are today, that's what pa remembers best about those good old days. So son I don't want you to think what grandpa says ain't so. About those good old day and think, that happened long ago. For if you stop and think a while, it's easy understood. He simply has forgotten the bad, remembers just the good.


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