I am conservative because…

I grew up that way….

When I am brushing my teeth, I still only run the water enough to wet my brush and my dentures, then turn the water off.  It is a left-over habit from when we lived “back on the farm” before we had running water in the house.  I didn’t know how rich we were back then.

We grew everything from potatoes to strawberries.  And what we grew, we canned!  Back than, I hated the process of canning, but loved the canned goods.  I have not so fond memories of washing hundreds of glass jars.  This was when you put a big pot on the wood fired cook stove and heated the water to when it was nearly boiling, you carried it to the “Pantry” and set it on the end of the big slate sink.

My Mother was the strongest woman I have ever known.  She planted a one acre garden, with food.  She also had a section that she planted in flowers.  The woman had a Green Thumb, every thing she planted, grew.  Plants, birds, and animals loved her, birds would land on her hand.  She knew every species of plant, and could name every bird.  She worked in that garden, weeding, hoeing, and harvesting for hours a day standing with her back bent with her legs straight.  I would last for half an hour, with a lot of coaxing, maybe an hour before I was sitting down, out of breath.

The only things we bought at the local grocery store was, salt, sugar, and flour.  There was no bottled water in the store.  If you had tried to purchase it, the grocer would look at you like you were crazy.  It still seems a little crazy to me. Remember that pantry I talked about? Well we put a big metal milk can of water on the “side board” and dipped out what you needed for you chore of the day.  Those milk cans didn’t magically appear on the sideboard, we had to do one of two things:  1. Go out to the well, prime the pump, and actually use our arms and pump the handle up and down, to get the water to pour into our pail.  Oh, by the way, once out pail was full, we carried it into the house. 2. Place several of the milk cans in the back of the car, head down to the artesian well and if the minnow is still swimming around, dip water out and put it into the milk can, load it back into the car and drive it home, and start all over again when that was gone.

There was no such thing as a shower, or even a bathroom.  If you had to go, you went out the back door to the “Out House” and did you business.  On the farm we had what I used to call, a “Three-holer,” that was three holes, one tiny one for small kids, one big for the man of the family and one in-between for the woman.  It was smelly in the summer and freezing in the winter, what fun!

I remember my absolute thrill when my Dad brought home an army surplus folding canvas-like bath tub!  After heating the water on the stove, I would slide into a bubble bath, pure heaven! Of course, I only got to do this on Saturday night.

We washed clothes on Monday, always! Rain, or shine, winter or summer, we hauled the old Washing machine out plugged her in and did the heating of water again, filled it with boiling water, added plenty of bleach and soap, sorry, can’t remember the names of the soap.  You always started off with all the white things, they were stuffed in and you waited for the clothes to get clean enough to pull them, gingerly (remember the boiling water) out of the water,  and stick them into the ringer to crush a lot of the water out of them. Watch your fingers!  My Mom had a two tubs set up to rinse them in cold water and put them through the ringer, put them in the second rinse, back through the ringer and then put them in a basket to take them out to the cloths line to hang them with wood clothes pins.

I have not so fond memories of bringing them back into the house-frozen stiff, and not that dry to hang them up over the stove on yet again another cloths line, this time with out the pins. I have to admit they smelled wonderful. Damn, just talking about it makes me tired.

Oh!  By the way, you aren’t done with your wash day.  You kept adding clothes to that same water gradually adding them by the color of the clothes, once the sheets and towels were done, you added your other clothes until you got to the dark clothes, which were pitched in last.  The theory was that all the bleach was gone by the time they were washed.  That might have been why all the men’s jeans and work shirts got lighter until they were streaked.

When they started getting holes, they were patched and worn them some more.  Nothing was thrown away if it could be re-used.   Now that was recycling!  I still keep a box of folded rags for cleaning.

We had animals, too!  My Mothers motto was “Every part strengthens the part” and no part of any animal was wasted. But that is for another time.

If you like my stories of “Long ago” let me know, because, I am not quite older than dirt, but getting there, and love to re-live the “Good old days”.

I am an author and have 8 books on Amazon.com, they are available on digital and print on demand paperback.  Just type my name, Brenda Colbath in the search area and voila! you will see all of them.  They are only $.99 so you won’t go broke getting them for your Kindle.  If you have to hold the book in your hand and turn the pages, you can order them, they cost a little more.

BTW, Amazon let’s you read the firs two or three chapter FREE to see if you like the book.

 

 

 

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Treasured Memories

I was sitting here at my computer wasting time instead of working on my books.  A thought occurred to me, if it is work, why am I doing it. Then I remembered why if gives me pleasure.  My mind wandered back to another time that also gives me pleasure.

The times I bathed, powdered, and snuggled with my children, before putting them to bed for the night.  They got a warm bath with bubbles and toys. After bath-time they got powdered, and put in clean PJ’s, then covered with their warm bed-clothes. Then it was story time.  I loved reading and used different voices to make it fun for them, and read until their little eyes closed and sleep claimed them.  I don’t remember of making up stories, nor them asking for them.

When my Grandbaby came along, she was different, not better, just different. She loved to have me make up stories.  Everything else was the same, except the making up of stories. I can’t remember any of the ones I made up, and probably she doesn’t, but she might remember me telling them.

A couple of my fondest memories was of Aurianna setting on my lap as I winning simple solitaire and when the cards started falling over the screen in uneven lines sayin, “Make it do it again, Gramma.”

Another fond memory was of her saying, “Gramma, make the car talk again.”  I had a Chrysler that talked to me, saying things like, “A door is ajar.”

She is all grown up now, but writing is akin to telling her stories, of course some of the stories I tell now are for grown-ups, but I still love to tell children’s stories.

To see and read my stories you can go to Amazon.com and type my name Brenda Colbath in the search and they will all pop up.  You decide if you want to read children, young adult, or adult and they are all there.  There are 2 more on the way. I’ll let you know when they are available.

 

I Remember When…..

I remember when I voted the first time.  It was for John F. Kennedy when he was elected in 1960.  I was less than 2 years out of high school.  I was employed at Dexter Shoe Shop in Dexter Maine working on an industrial machine sewing the backs Bowling Shoes and Ice Skates.  What a fun job. This was the good ole’ days when men were king of the world, and could get away with anything.

My immediate supervisor, let’s call him “Mr. Wonderful” wanted to date me. He would ask me which rink I was going to go roller skating every week.  I would tell him one and go to the other one.

Being a good catholic boy he was thrilled that the Pope would now be running the country because Mr. Kennedy was catholic, too!  I voted for John Kennedy in spite of the fact that he was Catholic.  Everything went well, he was elected and was an okay president.  Besides Jackie was a woman we all aspired to be!

There have been other presidents or their wives that did not inspire me at all.  What I liked about Kennedy was his clever sayings: Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.

I had been trying to get a raise because I was fast with my hands and could do a case in record time.  The management decided they would “time” me to, in their words see speed of  my “piece work” to determine how many pennies per piece  I would get.  Well, Mr. Wonderful came up behind me and with a stop watch in his pocket proceeded to time me.  Of course, I could tell that he was doing it so I did a lot of movements with my hand and didn’t accomplish any great amount of pieces zigzagged.  He would sake his head and walk away.  As soon as he was gone I wizzed through the rest of the day.

Mr. Wonderful was starting to annoy us girls by touching us, I told him in very plain English never to touch me.  I was on my way out of the plant because I was talking “Union”.  The treatment that the women put up with was wrong on so many levels.

One day Mr. Wonderful came up to the woman beside me and put his arms around her and grabbed her breasts.   He came over to me with the same intention, I told him again do not touch me.  Guess he didn’t take me seriously because I attempted to give him a vasectomy without the benefit of any anesthetic with my shop scissors.  I would have at least scarred him if he hadn’t been fast enough with his hand.  I still have those scissors.

The foreman walked me  to the door and said, “Your services will not longer be needed.”

I Remember When…

I remember my first airplane ride.  It was exciting, and mind boggling.  Here I was a mere 19 year old, living the carefree life of a single woman on her own, living with two other single women.

The year was 1959.  I was working on my first job in Hartford, Conn. as a keypunch operator for the huge hourly wage of $1.15 an hour.  Whoo Hoo!  I had no allusions that the guys across the file cabinets that separated our work place made that amount.  Remember when women made 50% of what men made, don’t believe it, it was a lot less.

My two room mates were waiting for Prince Charming to ride up on his White Charger and pick them up in his muscular arms and carry them off to a life of luxury in his castle. Right!

I had no such allusions.  Where I came from there were horses, but they pulled plows.

Room mate #1. Was going to flight school to become a flight attendant.  She was a tall willowy, well groomed; the neatest person I had ever met.  We lived in a three bedroom railroad apartment.  She always looked great and could straighten up the apartment in mo time and it looked as good as she did.   I borrowed one of her blouses once and it had a ring around the collar that made me sick.  Evidently she wore everything, including her undies until she had everything dirty enough to package it up to send to her Mother in Maine, who washed, ironed and starched everything except the undies and shipped it back to her.  The kicker was that she cold go to school (paid for by her parents) but couldn’t fly until she was 21.

I was crazy to wash everything by hand, hang it out on the clothesline and iron all day Saturday or Sunday to be ready for work Monday. My Mother would never do that for me.

Lesson learned!  Never borrow!

Room mate #2.  We married her off as soon as we could.  She actually washed her clothes, but she wore her rubber girdle for weeks before washing it.  Which I didn’t care about, but she hung in in the bathroom to dry.  You get the picture!   We made sure to leave her alone with her boyfriend, made intimate dinners for them with candles.  She got pregnant.  We were bad.

We started working at Hartford Fire Insurance Company in the Spring.  It was our first job and when it came to Christmas, we realized we weren’t going to get to go home. We hadn’t accrued any vacation time.   So we called in sick, and booked a flight from Hartford  to home, her in Vermont and me in Maine.   It was what is now called a “Red Eye”.

Had a great time!  BTW our flight cost $17.00 and it included dinner.  BTW I know what the did with the coach class seats.  They are now First Class seats.  The flight attendant could easily push her drink cart up and down  the isle.  The isles between the rows of seats were wide; we could walk by  the the cart to the bathroom.

When we got back to work, we discovered that our apartment was called and when we didn’t answer we were in deep doo doo.

Someone should have told us that we couldn’t go home for Christmas and also didn’t get the summer off.

I Remember When…

Being a young woman in the 50’s wasn’t an “equal” time.  Damn, I was devastated when I learned that I couldn’t pitch for the New York Yankees. I survived that disappointment and many more.   I tilted at some windmills and others I just accepted or worked around.

Life on the farm was hard in many ways, but in others it was fun.  I never understood that “woman’s work” was inside when I had to work outside too!

Yes, living in the country meant that you got up earlier to walk the proverbial mile to the school bus and then 8 long noisy bumpy miles to school.   Usually we arrived before the school was unlocked, which meant we stood around stomping our feet to stay warm.  It wasn’t so bad for the boys as they wore dungarees.  Since we were “ladies” we were not  allowed to wear dungarees.  After much protests we finally were allowed to wear pants to school, but had to take them off during classes.

All summer we worked in the garden, helped haying, and fed animals .  We had chickens and even though it was fun gathering eggs, the hens often took offense at us stealing their eggs and pecked us.

Our well was only about 30 0r 40 feet deep and was located about that far from the house. Every summer it ran dry.  We always had a bucket of water by the pump to prime it or you wouldn’t get water.  We kept a couple of metal milk cans to haul water for us and our animals, when the well went dry, we loaded the milk can in the back of the car off we went  to our back-up water source.  It was an artesian well not far from the house.  It was really just a hollowed out place in rock only about 3 or 4 feet deep.  It never went dry and the water was clean even though it had no cover over it.  We caught a small fish and every year dropped it in the well, as long as the fish was swimming we drank the water.  Doesn’t sound sanitary, but I am still alive.

This is a picture of me with two of those cans:

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That’s Mon and Dad priming the pump.  BTW the milk cans were empty.  I was strong, but not that strong.

There used to be a row of Maple trees across the road that every year we tapped for the syrup and cooked it to make Maple Syrup.  I can almost taste those big thick pancakes with fresh home churned butter and smothered in real Maple Syrup.  We did a lot of fishing on Moor pond in the background.  Bass and Pickerel in the summer and winter.

One summer I swam across the lake and back. My brothers were bragging about them swimming across it and I took the challenge and started my swim.  Mom was mad (and probably worried about me drowning) that I was swimming alone and she sent the boys after me with the boat and told them to make me swim back.  That was the one and only time I swam it.

I learned many things the hard way.

I Remember When …..

Life was in the slow lane, but was good.

I remember the time I went to “the ole swimming hole” on my bike (peddle power only) and decided  to give my girl friend a ride home.  Remember we only wore shoes during school, so I was barefoot.  She was on the seat and I stood up peddling.

We came across a rise in the road and started down, my foot slipped off the peddle, and I fell  on the road, she fell on top of the bicycle on top of me.

Up over the rise came a BIG car (they were big then) and slammed on his brakes so not to hit us.

The nice man jumped out of his car to make sure we weren’t hurt.  He got my friend and the bike off me to discover that my ankle was bleeding profusely, the sprocket had  cut my ankle.

I was told by my Mother “Do not take a ride with strangers” and no matter what he said I said, “NO.”

He begged and pleaded to het me to let him help me.  But if you knew my Mother, you knew her word was LAW!  There was no way I was getting in that car.

Finally, over all my objections and after a lot scratching and hitting , he got me into his car.  My friend told him where I lived and he took me home.

I was taken to “Ole Doctor Taylor’s office” and he did the stitches in his office.  No emergency,  or hospital!

I was supposed to be on crutches all summer long , we were so poor, my Dad make me a pair.  I was so ashamed of them that I would conveniently “forget” them and hobble around.

I was also told not to go swimming in Lake Wassookeg Lake so not to get infection if the wound, however I “fell in” on nearly every occasionally got near the water.

I remember hobbling like crazy trying to stay out of Doc Taylor’s eyesight on Fourth of July.  I neglected to bring my handy dandy crutches, and Doc Taylor knew ALL of his patients.

Those were the good old days.  It is so sad that we will never see them again.  Now it is a Corporate Medical Business!

 

I Remember When…

I remember when buying a new car was not a knockdown drag out fight to the death of your entire savings.   You took pride in your “vehicle of transportation” and could have it paid off and enjoy it for years before it needed tons of work.

We never had a “new” car when I was a kid.  My Dad maintained it forever, until our poor car had congestive heart failure and died and not matter how hard my Dad tried he couldn’t save it.

Usually there was only one or two dealerships in a town and 2 or 3 garages.  You could change your own oil if you were handy.   It didn’t cost an arm and a leg to have it done.

BTW, none of the cars came with seat belts.  There were no child seats.  We drove just as fast as we do now, and our biggest distraction were lighting cigarettes, and hollering at kids.  Nobody ate food in the car unless it was a sandwich brought from home.

Next time I’ll tell you about my first brand new car and about my first used car.

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