I am blessed!
Do you have blessings to count? I am the oldest of four children and when I compare my upbringing with so many young people today I realize I am fortunate. How many, reading this column today, as you were growing up had breakfast 365 days a year with your family? Things were not always easy in my household — growing up in the ‘40s and ‘50s, but when I compare our family life with many today I have many people to thank.
It was a given in our household — starting out as a farm family and later moving to the suburbs — that there would be oatmeal, or eggs or pancakes every morning. Mother made sure that Daddy was spoiled and she taught him to take it for granted that there would be hot bread (biscuits, hot cakes or cornbread) at every meal. I was probably in the fourth grade when mother “worked out” for the first time. As the oldest it became my responsibility: 2 cups of cornmeal, one cup of flour, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 tablespoon baking powder, milk if it was available (otherwise tap water) 2 eggs, if available, and melt bacon grease in the bread pan, add a little bacon grease and bake at 350 ‘til done. Serve with hand churned butter, milk or buttermilk.
Hers was a traditional table. Harvest poke greens when they were in season, water cress, dandelions, wild green onions. Two country things we did not have were mushrooms and lamb. Mother’s family herded sheep and young ones were sold, mutton was for their table. Since she never enjoyed it, we never tasted lamb until grown and on our own. I assume today that she was never introduced to mushrooms so they, too, were a delicacy that we discovered after we graduated from her table. Even after she took outside employment (working at a cannery, later at school cafeteria) she managed to cultivate and harvest a big vegetable garden. Lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, okra, strawberries, and from the barnyard, bacon, pork chops, sausage, poultry, occasionally chicken-fried beef steak. Coffee was a given, Grandma Anders family were Dutch and every year she added tablespoons of freshly ground coffee to the pot, thrilled when I introduced her to espresso. You had graduated from the little ones when you were allowed coffee to drink. Grandma Anders’ favorite for the summer was sassafras tea. We harvested, of course, wild blackberries, huckleberries and black walnuts.
It’s no wonder I can relate to “The Waltons” on television and harken back many years as I hear them shouting good night to each other. There was no television in our house until the late 1950s, we listened to “Jack Armstrong, the All-American,” and The Lone Ranger and The Grand Ole Opry on Saturday night, otherwise radio batteries were saved for something special. There was unconditional love in our family, something else we took for granted.
Today, our young people no longer have to deal with batteries for radio, for kerosene for light, or many other “inconveniences” that we dealt with. If, however, they can look around and know that they are loved, that security, that peace of mind, then they, too, are blessed and hopefully there will be a day when they recognize that fact. Hopefully they are creating memories, with a mother and/or a father who loves them and in a few decades they can look back and reminisce and consider that they, too, are blessed and have much for which to be thankful.
If you have not yet had a chance to stop by the McDonald County Museum in the grand old courthouse on the square in Pineville, do put it on your calendar. The museum is open Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. as we have volunteers, and Sunday afternoon from 1 to 4 p.m. Stop in and check out the many views of bygone days, the country stores, schools, you may find a relative, and you will have an opportunity to register your history. You may write to the McDonald County Historical Society at P.O. Box 572, Pineville, Mo., 64856 and when open the telephone is 417-223-7700. Check out our web page. Do come out and share your memories.
Alberta Anders writes a weekly column for the Daily News.