I was in the third grade at New Bethel School on New Bethel road just west of Anderson, comfortable in a world free of current demands made on children. No TV, no video games, no cell phone, etc., also, no inside plumbing or electricity. Daddy had been called up by the draft and didn't pass the physical. My parents were concerned that should he be called and accepted mother would not be able to survive, what with four small children, the youngest born just that June, the year was 1944.
They packed up their meager belongings with the hope that in California, that magic land far away, he would find work that would support a living lifestyle. Not a nirvana, not necessarily freedom from worry, but a living. With only a fifth grade education but a strong back and courage in each other and their future, daddy and mother loaded us up and we landed in Yermo, just out of Barstow, Calif. Daddy worked for the railroad as a laborer. It was a major adjustment to go from New Bethel one-room school house, a safe, country home to a "city" where the school taught, instead of the Civil War, the north versus the south, California versus Mexico and arts and crafts that included clay ashtrays and at Christmas you could be very sure there would be no snow or red cardinals.
From there we moved north to Santa Clara Valley, "The Valley of Heart's Delight." And not finding the hoped for job, we lived in a tent in the prune orchards. Mother, always a very hard worker, found work for herself, where she could take her four children along and we picked prunes, we cut apricots, and daddy found work in a filling station. At the end of the Second World War, California was a destination many aimed for, that land of magic,(a land where landlords could be choosy and uneducated parents with four small children were not the preferred renters) there was no shame for a family desperate for a roof over their head — with the confidence of the innocent — celebrating as they were able to move from the orchard to shacks built under a bridge — this was uptown, imagine, running water and electricity! Fast forward to 1950, not a nirvana but due to that strong back and a will to "make it," a real home of their own. The baby is in school, the oldest graduated from the eighth grade, (a first for this family) daddy – after help from a devoted wife, (who is proud of the job she now has working in school cafeteria) mastered fractions and was promoted from laborer to foreman at a lumber yard.
Forever, however, their memories of that little country house in McDonald County. They are able to take their first vacation and in their 1936 Ford were able to travel to rural Anderson, Mo., in McDonald County and savor the days of their childhood as they take time to fish on the creek banks and renew their relationships with brothers and sisters and parents — a lifestyle (that now has indoor plumbing and even electricity) and a nirvana of a different kind.
Page 2 of 2 - It is by planning and economizing, they manage every year after to return to the home of their heart until finally after graduations and retirement they are able to return to that McDonald County, that land of their family, that home where their hearts have ever been. It has been said that the Ozarks have a reputation that having been bred and raised there you will always long to return. In the case of this family that was certainly true.
Do you have yearnings for an old home place, for memories long past? As the old year closes and a new year begins, think about the Mayan Calendar (forseeing the end of our world just a few days ago) – was it stressful or a worry for you or not? If life is not what you would choose, consider you have 12 months to make it just that. Think about it! And while doing so, consider that the McDonald County Historical Society, located in Pineville preserves many dreams, fulfilled and not so much. Volunteers are still working at the grand old court house on the square on Saturdays, as it is soon to become the Museum (the museum at 302 Harmon, closed for the winter) still offers calendars, if you would like the 'baseball' calendar of last year, they are available at a discount, can be found as are the current 2013 calendars of churches that have been in McDonald County, at the Chamber of Commerce, 302 Harmon, at Pineville City Hall, at the Cornerstone Bank in Southwest City and at the Mustang Pharmacy in Anderson. If you would like to be a part of this society, write to P.O. Box 572, Pineville, 64856 or check www.mcdonaldcohistory.org.
Alberta Anders writes a weekly column for the Daily News.