From the Memoir of Laura Mae Dunscombe Baker, Born December 6, 1926
Recorded by Jacki Kellum
If you have read other of this series of posts, you will remember that my mother actually said what I will share:
“Grandma always had a big house and all of the grandkids would be there at some time during the holidays. Us, we stayed for days, if not for weeks. Because I remember so many little games we played. I learned to play checkers there and spent full days playing (I can’t think of the name). You know, where you buy property and pass go! [My cousin’s] room (when he got just a little older) was off the main house and across a back porch, so we practically took our meals there so as not to interrupt the game.…
“You asked about the houses they lived in. They were majestic for those days….[One of them] had real stained glass windows. They had a telephone, of all things. One that had the horn you put up to your ear and rang up an operator.
“Had lots of rooms and even sort of an indoor bathroom.
I don’t remember running water but there was a central bathtub that someone had to empty. You didn’t take a bath in a metal washtub.
“And the house in town where I spent so much time was pretty neat in itself. Wrap around front porch and huge screened-in back porch. Life was just about lived out there. Garden and fruit supplies were peeled and fixed there with everybody chipping in. Then carried to the hot kitchen. But, Jacki, that would have been early 30’s. And pretty grand, honestly. Gotta go. Love you.”
As I have said before, I can attest to the fact that my mother’s grandmother had a big, old Victorian house, whose porches wrapped almost completely around. The house sat in the middle of an immense, shaded lot, and my great grandparents had a large, cement goldfish pond. By the time that I was a kid, the goldfish were big enough to eat. Although we didn’t eat them, my cousins and I would often go fishing in the goldfish pond. We’d take a piece of string and tie a safety pin to the end of it. Then, we’d roll Wonder bread between our hands–until it became doughy. From the doughy bread, we’d form balls and attach them to the safety pins. It worked every time. I am surprised that we didn’t fish that pond dry.
Copyright Jacki Kellum October 17, 2015
As I have also said before, I have begun a 3-Way Memoir, where I’ll record some of my mother’s responses to some questions that I asked about her life. I hope to have the memoir published for my mother’s 90th birthday on December 6, 2016. It will be my grandmother’s story, my mother’s story, and mine–all told about our lives in the now very dusty and boarded-shut Bootheel of Southeast Missouri.
You can find excerpts from that memoir in various places on my blog, by searching:
What My Mother Said, Calico Cotton, Cotton Child, and When Cotton Was King.
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More about the upcoming book: