Mickey lived across the road from Grandma Cherry, whose house was the big old one she raised her 5 kids in. Mickey had indoor plumbing and a regular kitchen and all at home, but she didn't have anything like that when we were little. We couldn't believe it. She had a big old coal fired cookstove in the kitchen. There was no running water inside the house. She got her water from her well, which tasted fresh and cool. However, no inside water meant we had to take baths in a big tin pan with water warmed on the stove, and, worse, we had to use an OUTHOUSE. I was astonished again every time I visited. The root cellar under the house with all the stored potatoes and jams and all; the grape arbor, weighted down with muscadines
Especially since Mickey warned me about all the snakes and black widow spiders that lived there.
When all the cousins were there, which happened now and then during winter holidays, all the kids slept together in the attic at Grandma Cherry's. It was warm most everywhere else in her house, even in the coldest part of the winter. She had great fireplaces in every room that kept them toasty warm. There were quilts as well. The attic was a different story. There was no fireplace. There was no insulation. It was
one big drafty room with a host of iron frame beds lined up side by side. I never tested it, but I am pretty sure if you licked the iron post on the bed, it would have frozen your tongue right there onto the post till spring. For warmth we had a stack of homemade quilts to use, dozens--as many as you wanted to pile on. Trouble was, in order to stay warm, the number of quilts required could be in double figures. So we would be warm--except for our noses sticking out from the covers to breathe-- weighted down and unable to move side to side or turn over, and reduced to hysterical giggles. There is not much required to induce hilarity in a bunch of 6-12 year olds.
Our favorite thing was the penny candy at the front. Uncle Brooks would let us pick out two or three pieces a day each while we were there and it was agony for me to decide between Mary Janes, Sugar Daddys, Necco Wafers, Bit of Honeys--oh my gosh, do they make that stuff any more? I was delirious during the whole vacation each year (probably on a sugar rush). Mom was a strict nutritionist at home, so we had nothing sweet in the house except fruit. Jimmy
was not so much into candy, but Mickey and I would fight over the sack of candy all the way home. We would make ourselves sick on Wax Bottles. You bit off the necks, sucked out the sticky sweet syrup inside, then chewed up the wax. Yummy. They were about as good for you as soft drinks are now. Eating the candy cigarettes made us decide to try the real thing, and so of course we did. Or they did.
Morris, Camel, Winston, and more. In the field by the side of the house Jimmy and Mickey smoked their first cigarettes. As they puffed away, I ran around in circles hollering for them to give me a turn. Pretty soon I stopped though, cause they quit puffing and sorta laid back stunned and sweaty, with greenish faces. Mickey moaned and Jimmy kinda half-gagged and I stayed very quiet. After the vomiting was over, we swore a pact never to tell and returned to the front yard. Well of course one look at the pale sickly faces by the grownups and the jig was up. The punishment was light and I didn't have to share, since I was not party to the crime. We were soon ready for our next adventure.
Here's how it went. They would pass by each brood hen, reach up under her and take an egg. They would pass it to me and I would carefully place it in the basket. Soon we would have visited every nest and leave the hen house with our basket brimming.
and with great hesitation timidly approached the first hen. She grew larger before my eyes and sort of hunkered down over the nest and her eggs. Grandma explained later that she was fluffing up her feathers to make herself look bigger as a defensive tactic against foxes and other enemies, me included I guess. I was about a foot away when all of a sudden........ wooowweeee....... Such screeching and flapping I never saw. She came at me with all she had and I dove to the other side of the hen house with my arms wrapped around my head. It was an awful few minutes. After awhile, when she determined that she had me subdued, she settled down and
scrambled back on her nest. I unfolded from my fetal
position and thought about what to do. Well, I didn't want to be labeled as a scaredy cat from the city and disappoint my Aunt, Mom and Grandma and be made a laughing stock by the boys. Maybe that was just a
specially figgity hen and if I approached the next one with more confidence and authority, things would go better. They did not. This time I got my hand almost up to the nest. Two hens went nuts. I got my hand pecked in several places and then my heels from the back as I high tailed it out the door. So much for what the world thought of me. I knew what the hens thought. They had made that very clear and my egg gathering was ended.
instructions, the safety precautions--over and over. Mom and Dad outlined very specific limits about how he could use it. He was pretty much confined to using it to target practice, shooting tin cans in the back yard--which backed up to the railroad tracks. He also practiced by making me dance to the tune of BBs bouncing off my tennis shoes. That, however, was outside the limits of acceptable BB gun behavior and ceased. There was little use for a BB gun in the city. Then we were off to Estill Springs!
chickens ran out with great cackling and clucking and the coast was clear to get serious. Oh my gosh, it was wonderful!! It started with little round holes in the first window pane. Then more and more. Finally that one crashed to the ground, with a lovely sound and shattered glass all round. Then another and another. They got fancy and started shooting patterns in the glass--criss cross and hearts and all around the edge in a circle. It took many BB's to finish off the first side, with Jimmy and Mickey taking turns. As they made their way around the hen house, I could see that there were fewer and fewer panes left. I began to
holler for my turn. They ignored me! It was always the same. I pulled on their arms! I screamed! I jumped up and down! I cried! The last pane crashed to the ground. They clapped each other on the back and rolled around on the grass They were high on naughtiness, drunk on pure boy badness and I was as mad as spit.
There were some 30 windows in shards on the grounds and many chickens desperate for a place to call home. The remainder of the summer was another kind of terrible for the boys. They worked from dawn till dark-- milking, tossing hay, digging fence posts, hoeing weeds from the garden, doing all the farm chores needing to be done--to pay for replacing the windows in the hen house, the many windows in the hen house.