Posted by: ksuechester | January 19, 2011

For The Love Of Pie!

It was in May of, 1960, six months before I was born, that my family moved to the rented farm on Miller road. In early 1977, a few months after I turned sixteen, we moved away. But for sixteen fairytale years I was privileged to live on seventy-two acres of PARADISE! That un-farmed farmland had everything a child could ask for. Well, everything but hot water and a bathroom. But in the super-small, five room house that was home to this family, whose final head count totaled nine, who needed those luxuries, what with everything else we had? So what, if the brown dirt under the house could be seen through the cracks in the floor? You really couldn’t see that much of it, unless you were down on your knees with your eyeball on the floor. And the two brown, smelly kerosene heaters, standing back to back, and separated only by the wall between two bedrooms, and the length of exhaust pipe that connected them, kept us warm enough in the winter. Although a body DID have to stand mighty close to them to feel the heat they put out. And did anyone except Mama, really mind that there was no privacy in any of the rooms, because there were no doors for the doorways? Or, that to get to any room of the house, one had to walk through all of the others to get there? Did it really matter that there was only one closet in the whole house, and that Daddy claimed it as his? I mean after all, there WAS that old rocking chair in the corner of a bedroom. It was there, where all of the clothes, once washed and dried, were taken from the line, and dumped. It only took a small amount of searching through the pile to find what we were looking for, and once ironed, we would wear it proudly out to play or off to school. Did we mind that we took our baths in the kitchen sink, where anybody from inside or out, could walk right in and “catch” us in our birthday suit? Or that our “potty” was in an unheated, falling down shack, a good ways down a little path from our house? These were minor inconveniences to have to pay for all the splendors that were ours in this tiny piece of Heaven! Splendors any child would have envied us for!

Those splendors, scattered across seventy-two acres of what, at one time had been a farm, were woods to play in; a creek to dam up and swim in; huge rocks to climb over; trees to climb up and get stuck in; the old barn and chicken house, and well house to make clubhouses out of; gullies and hills to explore and slide down; kudzu vines to hide in; and the wonderful soft brown dirt up under the house to play in. There were hollyhocks, and honeysuckle, wild irises, dandelions, and buttercups to decorate the landscape, and if one got hungry in the midst of play, there was always something to grab for a quick snack; apples, pears, peaches, cherries, wild strawberries, black cherries, persimmons, plums, walnuts, pecans, and blackberries.  A little something for everyone!

With five brothers and a sister, there was always someone around to play with, and keep me company whether I asked for it or not; or even wanted it! And we never hurt for enough players to form teams for our games of rolley-bat, dodge ball, tag, football, hide and seek, or badmitten, although getting everyone to agree on what we would play, could prove, at times, to be a challenge. We never hurt for pets to love and care for either, because people were forever letting out stray cats and dogs at the corner where Charlie Walker, and Miller roads met, and those lost little animals would inevitably find their way to our little house on the hill, and in time, win our hearts, and become our pets. With only a few exceptions, that is the way most of our many household pets were acquired. All of them were allowed to run loose, and NONE of them, as I remember, were ever carried to the vet, for any reason.

The seven of us children practically lived outside. Maybe because it was roomier out there, or maybe it was a means of escaping some of the brutal happenings that took place inside. But whatever the reason, we managed to always find fun and entertaining things to occupy our time. On snowy, winter days, my siblings would make snowmen and igloos, or have snowball fights. Since I was born with severely “clubbed” feet, I couldn’t stand or walk in the snow very well. So I would watch the fun from inside, looking out through a window. But in the summer, we all played with June bugs on a string. Or captured lightening bugs and put them in jars for bicycle headlights. We made pets of hoppytoads and caterpillars, and dodged bumble bees, as we gathered flowers to wear for jewelry, or in our hair, or for bouquets to give to Mama. It was the kind of life books are written about!

One of the best things about summer, during that tender time of life, for me anyway, was the ripening of the blackberries! I LOVED the blackberries! And it seemed we had tons of them. It didn’t matter that they grew among briers. Or that they were a breeding ground for chiggers. Or that the areas where they grew seemed to be upon the most uneven terrain of the whole seventy-two acres. It seemed next to impossible to maintain balance, and not fall headlong among the nettles. At least, in my case. But each summer found the ones of us who could, or WOULD, dressed in layers of clothing for protection against scratches and bites, out in the briers, with whatever kind of bucket we could find, picking blackberries. We would pick gallons of them, and eat quarts, before calling it “quits” and carrying the harvest inside to Mama. Once relinquished to her care, she would wash and rewash the berries, drain them, and “sugar” them up. Then she would measure them out for pies. How many pies she made, depended upon how many berries we had picked. Anyone who ever tasted Mama’s pies always said that she could make the best crusts of anyone they knew. And I just loved to watch her prepare and roll out the fragile dough. I would marvel that the paper thin shell never tore as she picked it up and placed it just so, in the pie pan. She was always careful to leave just enough of both the top and bottom layers overlapping the edge of the plate for an adequate seal. Then she would pick up the unbaked pie, and with a knife, cut away the extra dough, which would fall away in strips to the floured surface of the table. Because of the tight budget which we were forced to live on, Mama allowed few things to go to waste, including those scraps of dough. She would re-roll them, and sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on them and dot them with butter. Then bake them to make what she called, “stickys”, which I loved, and considered to be an added “extra” to the blackberry pies baking away in the oven!

By the time I turned eleven, change had drifted into our world, and life on Miller road was never the same. Instead of the “outhouse”, we now had an indoor bathroom, which Daddy installed himself, in a minuscule room off the side porch. We still had no hot water. But at least we had a tub to bathe in! And as long as we were careful, we avoided being scalded by the boiling water which we carried from the kitchen to the bathroom in two large canning pots. This, to equalize the cold tap water in the bathtub. And the bathroom actually had a door with a lock on it! Another change we saw, was the replacement of the old rocking chair in the bedroom. Now, the baby bed that had cradled Mama’s last-born, until he had outgrown it, sat in that corner, and overflowed with fresh-smelling laundry, spilling out over the mahogany colored rails. But the biggest change of all, was that instead of a family of nine living in the tiny house on the hill, we were now a family of five. My older siblings, all four of them, had either been “asked” to leave, or, as in the case of my sister, had married and moved away. There was now only three children living at home, I being the oldest of them. And then of course, there was still Mama and Daddy. Our games changed, for there was no longer the number of players needed for teams, and it is a sad and difficult feat indeed, to play three handed rolley-bat!

With all of the changes taking place and adjustments being made, there was one thing that remained the same. Our love for blackberry pie never lessened! In fact, Mama threw out a challenge to the last three of her brood, that the first four never knew about. If all the three of us would pick enough berries for two pies, we each could have a whole pie to ourselves. And Mama would get THREE! She said it was only fair, since she was the one who had to bake them. And we certainly didn’t argue. We were, after all, getting a whole pie to ourselves! Now, summertime may have found fewer “pickers” in the patch, but our zeal never waned. Indeed, the three of us picked with renewed enthusiasm that we might accomplish our selfish ambition. That, of course being, to stuff our faces with pie, when all was said and done. Each of the five remaining summers that we lived on that old farm, found me stumbling around in the brier patch, fighting for balance, and smothering in layers of clothing, while enduring scratches and bug bites. And all for the reward of a pie to call my own!

I know life on Miller road wasn’t perfect. Far from it! But early on, I learned to “push down” the bad stuff, and live as if it were. And until I grew up and learned differently, I honestly believed that no one had it better!

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Responses

  1. I love this one also Kathy. It made me feel like I was there. I remember some hard times when I was growing up but I loved running through the woods, climbing trees, playing in the creek, swinging on vines and running through the fields without the fear of snakes beneath my feet. Now there is no way I would do that. Thank you again for such a wonderful story. It was great. I think they are actually getting to be habit forming. I am now looking for your new posts…LOL!!! May God Bless You!!!

  2. LOL Well, that is kind of what I am hoping for, to be honest! 🙂
    I enjoy writing, and there is so very much that God has done for me through the years, AND also, I know that a lot of people are right now, going through some of the same struggles that God has given me victory over, and I want them to know that He can and WILL help them too, if they turn to Him! The desire of my heart is to point people to Jesus!!! There is WAY too much needles suffering going on in this world!

  3. I think Lassie or Smokie, or even Mickey deserves an entry. Maybe one on the “rocks” or the “Val tree”, the “dilley”, the gullie, the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd turn around spots, Mackey’s, the evil lurking on the other side of the creek, or even Mr. Wagnors lake. Maybe the fun we had when they came to cut down our woods, or the fun of when Alan and Lynn came to visit and we gave them the cap guns and kept the bebe guns for ourselves and played cowboys and indians.lol Oh the fun we had with those city folk.
    Then of course you would have to include a few entries about US becoming city folk. BTW Dianne all the guys on the block on N.Juniper ave thought Fred was the luckest man of the planet to be married to a walking talking undiscovered hollywood movie star. And don’t think laying out in the sun in your enclosed porch meant you had any privacy. Every time you did so there was a series of phone calls, secret codes, dibs on the best viewing points, and ready made excuses in case we got caught. lol Just thought I would get ya up to speed on that, in case you were unaware. lol

  4. lol …Diane, did you know about that? lol I didn’t until just now! lololol And Darell, you gave me some good “story” material. Thanks! 🙂

    • No I did not know about that. I am blushing……………LOL!!!! Thanks Darell I sure do appreciate that….LOL!!! Must have been a bunch of peeping toms on Juniper Ave back then……………LOL!!!!!

      • lol, opps


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