Friday, January 21, 2011

Mules and More

Bound for Ft. Knox Kentucky

I'm saving these right here. I'll leave a few labels in the event I need to do a search to find them. These were posted on a private wall in Facebook from old photos my sister has.

I cuss my memory lately but I do remember when this picture was taken, the mule being hauled away and how angry my dad was when they bought her back and her legs were skinned and mangled from that trip. Katie (the mule) left behind her mate "Joe" when she made her trip to Ft. Knox.

I haven't seen this picture for years and years though I did know it existed. The baby boy sitting on that mule is now 55 yrs old. We were stair steps in age except for the two younger ones who enjoyed a two year age difference.
I would like to say that everyone of us had chores but I would be lying. The younger two of this family enjoyed a life of leisure. "They are the babies" we heard when questioning, if we had the nerve, why they didn't gather eggs, feed pigs, milk cows or do any housework. I was smack in the middle of these seven children. Too far from the tail end of the group to enjoy their good time and too far from the top of the group to have any sway with what went on.
Play time was still plentiful. We did have chores but we also had lots of time to hang out in the hills, and play in the dusty yard. Seven children could wear out the grass, leaving only a yard where you could count the roots of the big maple tree standing off center from the house.
The old farm house had linoleum floors and standing back and looking through that house, the boards beneath those floors rippled with the years of moisture that warped them into a pattern of small waves beneath the covering. I can remember when Mom would decide to mop. She cleaned an area, then placed newspapers on the floor and we had to sit in that cleaned area while she finished mopping the remaining floor and the other rooms.
The living room walls were wall papered. The old paper was never removed. A new layer was applied over the old. I still remember a room full of huge pink roses or later, a room of huge blue roses. Martha Stewart wasn't stopping by this little country house nor was Good Housekeeping.
A door led to an open stairwell. The upper floor was one large room boasting a chimney pipe sprouting from the wood stove below. This room was divided in half by consent only; the boys on one side and the girls on the other side.
A tin roof to the porch below jutted out from the bedroom windows and  provided access to the maple tree. The tin roof could be used on hot humid nights to escape to the outside. A/C was not even an idea back then and heat in the winter in this part of the house was scarce.

I don't remember not one of these 7 children uttering any words of envy at what others their age enjoyed.
The evenings were spent over a game of "pick up sticks" or "jacks". My mother loved playing these games with her children. A pencil and crude drawings of houses and fish, I can still remember her art.
We had a set of encyclopedias for reading and copies of Modern Romance magazines full of stories of women and their failed romances. I read what was available and when a library became accessible to me, a whole world past the Modern Romance mags blossomed like a flower opening to the sun. I could gorge on books. I could check out six books by just signing the library card and having the return date stamped on the card and the envelope attached to the back inside cover. Roaming through the aisles of books that towered above my head, I inhaled the smell of leather, old paper and the oiled floors I stood on.  I miss the old libraries.

I lived for a time in Alpine Junction, Wyoming.  It was just for a summer and this little junction town just down the canyon from Jackson Hole was home to a travel trailer park with it's one lone grocery/supply store. As you entered this little store, a box sat on the floor with paperback books. There wasn't a library card to sign. You selected your books and returned them when you were finished. You could add your old books to the collection for others to enjoy.

The libraries with their card catalogs are now a part of history. Microfilm, I'm assuming, has went the way of library cards with everything now scanned to digital. 
I can remember when I discovered the Internet. There are kids now that have never known a life without it. I can't imagine my life without Internet access. I'm hooked. I can always find something to read on the 'net. It doesn't have the ambiance of the old libraries but it's convenience counts for a lot.


  1. These are the kinds of yarns I like.

  2. Wonderful memories! I had to laugh when I read about wallpapering over old wallpaper. My Dad used to do this and I imagined the rooms getting smaller and smaller with all the layers! We used to joke that if my Mum got in the way she would end up being plastered to the wall with the wallpaper too!

  3. Sounds a little like starting life in an old store building, without a doubt it made us better people in later life at least you and I turned out very well.

  4. Buffalo: Thanks..

    Linda/Ayak: I think all those layers of wallpaper were considered "insulation" to that old house.

    John B: I think we were better for it..the life of not being "given' all....or growing up with that "entitlement"


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