Her name was Alice and every day I look in the mirror and I see her looking back at me. She was one of the strongest people that I have ever met. I am proud to have known her.
She was also funny, and smart. If she had been allowed to continue going to school beyond grade school, she would probably have been a Doctor, or Attorney. She beat me all the time playing Double Solitaire and Double Nine Dominos. She could walk through a field of clover and reach down and pick up a 4 leaf clover without searching. She had to quit school to help take care of her 2 brothers and 4 sisters.
I got some of her immunity to all childhood diseases, not so with by two older brothers; they looked like chipmunks or some horribly diseased people with mumps and scarlet fever.
When she found herself alone in a small cabin in the middle of winter with 3 little kids, she managed to keep us warm, clothed, and fed by doing mens jobs. She picked beans, peas, and potatoes. If you know anything about picking potatoes, imagine this; she picked 100 barrels a day. Each barrel holds, I think, 4 or 5 bushels, and she did this and still watched 3 kids. The owners of the fields tried to tell her that they would pay her less than the men because she was a woman! She challenged them! She said “I will work for one day, and if I don’t beat every man you don’t have to pay me anything, if I beat them I get paid the same as them”. She beat them all. And from that day on she was paid the same as the men.
When I was a teenager, I could pick 20 barrels a day on my best day.
I remember one day, she was walking back to the field, when one of the young men, who had obviously drank his lunch, came walking over to her saying “Hey, sweetheart, how about a kiss”? And as he swung his arm around her shoulders, she never lost her momentum, she coldcocked him, and he stumbled over three rows of potatoes and fell on his ass. None of the guys approached her or us again.
She loved to fish, fished every chance she could. I think her favorite was Brook fishing, and I fished with her many time. One time, when we stopped at a farmhouse, to ask the farmer, sitting on his porch for permission to cross his land to go brook fishing. He smiled and said sure and proceeded to hold the barbed wire fence up so Mom could go under. As she bent to crawl under he patted her on the ass, and I nearly fell over trying to keep from laughing out loud. I also knew that my turn was next. I was amazed that he didn’t get his head knocked off.
The last times that we went brook fishing, I was about 6 months pregnant, and we got kinda got lost in the woods, I fell in the brook, and we had to walk about 5 miles back to the car. We usually caught a few “pocket fish”, and lucky we never got stopped by a game warden. When I laughed and told my Doctor about my adventure, he about choked. I told him how much trouble could I get in, I was with my Mother!!!!
One day I told her that my teacher wanted to know how old she was, she was doing the washing and not in a good mood, so she said “tell her I am 104”. So that is exactly what I did! And no amount of talking from the teacher could convince me that she wasn’t. If my Mother said she was 104, she was 104!!!
She met the love of her live when I was a very young child, and Lloyd was the best! He took on the responsibility of three little kids and a wife without a hesitation. He worked on the railroad laying, and repairing tracks. It was hard physical work and he wasn’t a very tall man but he had a biggest set of shoulders and arms that Popeye would be envious of.
They bought a 15 acre farm when I was in the 6th grade. The man that sold it to them had sold it many times and had repossessed it over and over. Well, they were the last ones to buy it, which I am sure disappointed him a lot. We lived off that land! Until that time, I was the smallest kid in class, during the next year I gained so much weight, I got stretch marks. Mother had an acre garden, and we kept a cow, had chickens, and raised a steer for beef. He hunted, and we always had Deer meat. We also sold the Hay from the field. We stored some of the Hay in the barn, and my job was to stomp the hay in the mow to pack it down to get more in the barn, because I was the only kid that did not have hay fever.
The Farm house was over 100 years old and after I was married and had a daughter, the farm house burned down. They put a Single wide Mobile home on the foundation and added a room. A few year ago when I was in Maine visiting, I drove back by it, and was disappointed, that the owners had let the field grow up to trees.
You can never go back!