Redneck Review

Friday, June 17, 2005

Summertimes Gone By

When I was a kid, my hillbilly grandparents kept all of us grandkids
for a week or two in the summer. There were six of us, three sets of
siblings, ages around 5,7,9,12,12,15.

There was plenty to do. We got to sleep outside under the mimosa
tree. We had to move the lounge chairs on wheels from under the
hedgeapple tree, because we could get conked on the head by a
hedgeapple overnight. Grandma and Grandpa put some plywood
on sawhorses, and brought out their mattress. We fell asleep looking
at the stars, and listening to the whipporwills. We woke up when
the sun came up, with dew on our faces.

During the day, we could pick up buckets of hedgeapples and
throw them down the sinkhole, or across the road. We thought
it was fun. G & G were getting their yard cleaned up. We could
go fishing in the pond in the hog lot. Oh, did I mention that they
raised pigs? If we couldn't dig a bunch of grubworms (translation:
beetle larva, ugh!), Grandma gave us baloney or hot dogs for bait.
We had to watch out for the hogs. One time the old boar chased
me and my 12-year-old girl cousin. She jumped that fence like a
hurdler, giving me time to crawl through because he chased her.

In the afternoon, Grandma played cut-throat croquet with us in
the front yard. She was out for blood. She could not stand to lose.
If she bumped our ball, she put her foot on hers and pounded
that mallet into it, driving ours across the blacktop road into the
woods. Whining "...but we're just little kids, Grandma." did no
good. "That's the rules," she told us. She'd beat the pants off of
us for a couple games, then go in to cook supper.

I'm sure she made foods we'd eat, but the ones I remember are
the ones that shocked me. Greens. Now why would anyone want
to eat boiled dandelion weeds that they dug up next to the driveway?
Then there were turnips, hominy, and cooked cabbage. My pig-
fishing cousin and I would compete for the cabbage core while
Grandma was cutting up the cabbage. Now if my mom had sat
me down and served me a raw cabbage core for supper, I would
have revolted. But at Grandma's, it was a delicacy worth fighting for.
I know we had fried chicken, because we also fought over the heart
and gizzard. And we got to watch Grandma wring the chicken's
neck, and watch the headless body run around.

We played a game called "Annie, Annie, Over," which I guess is
a real game. We divided into teams, put one team on each side of
the house, and threw a rubber ball over the roof. If you caught it,
you ran around the house and tried to hit the other team with the
ball before they could run around to your side. Sometimes the ball
lodged behind the chimney, so we had to get the ladder and send
boy cousin up on the roof to get it.

In the afternoon, when Grandpa got home from his shift at the
lead mines around 3:30, we all worked in the garden. We weeded,
or picked dill and cucumbers for Grandma to make pickles. We
picked corn, which I didn't like to husk because of the worms,
and tomatoes. My favorite was to pick up the potatoes after
Grandma hoed the hill. I didn't like picking the green beans--too
much work. Then we would sit under the big hedgeapple tree while
Grandma snapped the beans to cook for supper. Grandpa gave
us turns "driving" the tractor.

We could go with Grandpa to feed the hogs. He poured corn
in a big white plastic bucket. Once we climbed through the fence,
he poured out some piles of corn in the dirt so the hogs would
eat and not follow us. Then we went up into the woodsy part
to the pens with the sows and piglets. That was the best part.
He would count them to see if any were missing, or if the sow
had rolled over and smothered any of them. He lifted up some
piglets by their tails so we could see them and hear them squeal.

At night we'd watch TV for a while, usually a Cardinals game.
Grandma made us popcorn, the real kind popped in a pan with
oil, and drizzled with butter melted in another pan. None of that
microwave stuff like today.

Sometimes we went for walks down in the woods, where the
older cousins would try to persuade us younger ones to smoke
grapevines. It looked kind of stupid to me, but they seemed to
like it.

Some mornings Grandma would let boy cousin drive us a couple
miles to a little store in her white Ford Galaxy 500. We sat quietly
on the back seat so we wouldn't make the 12-year-old driver
nervous. Once we got there, she gave us each 50 cents to buy
candy, which she called "junk."

If it rained, we could work a jigsaw puzzle on the dining room
table. Grandma worked nightshift at the state hospital, and often
brought home a puzzle to work, then took it back and brought
another one. No wonder those people were crazy, because
those puzzles were seascapes and blue sky. If we were lucky,
there might be a lighthouse or some clouds. Otherwise, we had
to put together the edges, then hope for the best with all the blue

My kids have opportunities and material things that I didn't have
growing up, but they will never have memories like mine.


  • At 6:24 PM, Blogger Rebecca said…

    Hi Hillbilly Mom,
    A great story. I have memories like this. Friday nights we would get on the train, which was really old carriages, about 70 years old. Sometimes it would be a steam train, and yes, this was the late 1970's, early 1980's.
    Being with Grannie was fun, we use to walk in the door, call out hello, then go straight to the biscuit tin, she was a wonderful cook. Time with Grandpa was always an adventure, thanks to him, I now know how to use a chainsaw.
    I'm thinking I should blog this at some stage, you have inspired me.

  • At 11:15 PM, Blogger Hillbilly Mom said…

    Hey Rebecca, did you drive yourself there pulling a boat trailer at about 70 miles per hour?

    My #1 son was fascinated with trains when he was 3. We took him on a train ride in Jackson, Missouri, with a steam engine. I was surprised at how different the land looks than it does from a car.

    Here's some info about it, IF you are interested in trains:

  • At 11:02 AM, Blogger Redneck Diva said…

    *sniff sniff* You have made me utterly weepy with nostalgia, Hillbilly Mom!! I feel a post akin to yours coming on.

    Gosh, Annie Over...I need to teach my kids that one. We would play it for hours at a time! I bet my kids won't stay hooked at it for more than 10 minutes.

    You're right - they may have more video games and luxuries, but I bet they don't get to gather eggs in the coop, jump out of the hayloft, watch the sheep shearers or help with the milking.

  • At 12:11 AM, Blogger Rebecca said…

    Hi Hillbilly Mom,
    As strange as it may sound, I don't really like trains that much, it is just a job for me. My interest is in trams, yes I know they are on rails too, but they have personality.
    I did drive to Ganny and Grandpa's a few times, but much later in life.


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