Making a living in McDonald County in 1933 was not easy. There were, of course, the strawberry fields, harvesting crops in the fall, but most depended on sharecrop farming and raising a garden, putting up produce for the winter. Some worked for Pet Milk, some sold them milk.
Mother married Daddy in 1933 and when I think of it today, there must have been some faith in the future. Mother talked about funds being slim and ammunition for hunting scarce. She talked about their three-legged bulldog that hunted with Daddy. He sat under a tree with rocks and his faithful little dog would chase rabbits, he was a crack shot and he would down the fleeing game with a good rock and thus there was meat on the table.
Mother cooked raccoon, squirrel, possum and, of course, fish and when they were living high, chicken or maybe bacon and pork. She enjoyed watercress, poke, any wild greens she found.
They walked these hills, the Coy area, the Splitlog area, Klondike, Hart, later, of course, they were able to buy a car but they were quite familiar with all the backroads, creeks and rivers, the hills and valleys of this special part of the world.
Over the years there was heartbreak and happiness. My mother experienced the loss of a child at 3 days of age, suffered the loss of a home (and all the contents) to a fire, raising four children, one suffered a serious accident, leaving her with limitations in walking, one suffered a serious snakebite, one a serious burn as he inadvertently stepped in to molten fire where roofing was being burned, but she managed and all four survived. They left this area to find work but, as soon as they found it feasible, were delighted to return to McDonald County, their heart’s home, for their senior years, all four children following with their children in the 1960s.
I would like to believe that the last 10 or so years of her life were times of ease, a time of gratification and pleasure. She went on to that better world at the age of 97 and left a great number of people remembering her with love and admiration for her optimism, her courage, her faith. When I consider the many tragedies she experienced and yet, her faith never seemed to be threatened, she left a great legacy for those remaining after her.
As Mother’s Day approaches, it is with pride that I remember her, the bulbs she planted are blooming this spring, everywhere my eyes wander they rest in delight in areas where her inspiration, her energy, her time was spent to beautify this — her part of the world. Thank you to my mother Orpha Spears Anders Smythe.
Do you have memories you would like preserved? Remember, in McDonald County, we have the McDonald County Historical Society, P.O. Box 572, Pineville, 64856 – firstname.lastname@example.org. Please mark your calendar for Memorial Day weekend, May 25, 26 and 27. We are hoping you will join us for the grand opening of the grand old courthouse on the square in Pineville. We would love to be of assistance in helping you preserve for posterity and for your family, your memories.
Alberta Anders writes a weekly column for the Daily News.