Summers were a special time for my sister and me in the late 1940s and early ’50s. That’s when we got to spend time with our grandparents at their farm.
Those lazy summer days meant waking up in the big feather bed then going downstairs for a breakfast of Ralston’s cereal. (First you add about a tablespoon of real cream and plenty of sugar; and stir that in; then, and only then, was it time to add warm milk “straight from the cow.”)
Rainy days were made for sorting through Grandma’s button box, cutting paper dolls from the Sears catalog, or mixing flour and water to make a paste for craft projects. Evenings were spent in the little living room, with Granddad in his rocking chair by the window and Grandma perhaps scraping apples for us. Brushing Granddad’s thick grey hair earned us each a nickel. Then it was a bowl of cornflakes before heading upstairs to bed, where we listened to the quiet night sounds through the open windows while drifting off to sleep.
Long, lazy summer days provided plenty of time for all sorts of adventures like climbing the cherry tree in the backyard, gathering eggs, going with Granddad to haul water, climbing and sliding all over the big old barn, and walking down the long lane to pick up the mail.
There were animals to tend as well, including Granddad’s milk cows, a baby calf we named Cherry Pie, hogs, and the new little chicks Grandma purchased each spring. After the boxes were carried to the special little brooder house and the lids were removed, fluffy little chicks poured out like waterfalls. Grandma said to watch them and notice that each time they took a drink of water, they lifted their little heads up to thank God.
Grandma’s big kitchen had a black wood-burning cookstove, and water came from the kitchen pump. There was a bucket with a dipper on the side porch, readily available whenever you were thirsty. A little room on the back porch housed an “almost real” toilet with a large bucket-type tank that was taken to the outhouse and emptied occasionally.
Sometimes our cousins from Chicago visited, adding to the excitement. In our little playhouse, which was actually a little space next to the garage, we made gourmet mud pies by snitching and adding an egg or two to the gooey concoction. We were horrified once when our cousins’ mother stopped by the playhouse for a “visit,” and we offered her one of our “treats.” We’ve never figured out just how she made us truly believe she ate that mud pie!
I remember once when I was just starting high school and a group on a hayride got lost and came down the lane looking for directions. I recognized one of the girls as a classmate, and oh how sorry I felt for her. There I was with Grandma and Granddad, and she had to be stuck with a BOY!
Grandma, Granddad and one cousin are all enjoying their heavenly home, and the house, barn and outbuildings are all gone now. But wonderful memories of that special place and time, and grandparents I thought could walk on water, will live forever in the hearts of three current-day grandmas.
Read more reader-submitted summer memories in Memories of Summer Fun.
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