My granddaughters took turns making trips with me this summer as I traveled back and forth to Louisiana to visit my 86-year-old mother, 89-year-old mother-in-law and other “older” relatives and friends. The girls are 13 and 14 years old, and eventually everybody we spent time with remarked how sad it was that the girls had to be bored with “old folk talk”, but I know that one day they might look back with fond memories on these hours spent with their seasoned relatives. I know I do.
As a child I spent a lot of time with my grandparents, aunts and uncles, and I often think nostalgically of the hours sitting on porches and in living rooms listening to stories and opinions of folks I thought were “old” back then. I heard how Grandpa Byrd would just move furniture out of the living room into the yard so they could have weekend dances with music supplied by people with fiddles and guitars. I remember how my grandpa walked into the woods, cut a hickory tree to replace his hoe handle that broke instead of driving the hour to town to buy a new one. I was happy and content accompanying grandma to quilting bees, even when I was the only child plying my needle around the quilt frame. My childhood memories include the ever-present cat’s head biscuits at Aunt Ruby and Uncle Sam’s house, the Charlie Brown cookies served by snuff-dipping Miss Sylvia or the Kool-Aid Aunt Pauline kept on hand for us kids. Water buckets with communal dippers, homemade feed sack clothes, and outhouses stocked with Sears, Roebuck catalogs that served as toilet paper stand out in my memory, and I tell tales of those days to my doubting grandchildren.
So, though my granddaughters sat without electronics and had to “suffer” through hearing about aches, pains and surgeries they also heard about how their great-grandmother and her six sisters and two brothers grew up in a world before television, telephones and automatic washing machines. The girls laughed at the stories of their elders hoeing crops, the shortage of underwear among so many girls, picking cotton barefoot, and drawing water from wells and then having to strain wiggling creatures out of the drinking water. They got an insight into how their ancestors hid in the thick woods of the Toro bottom lands when a rare car drove up because they were afraid it was Bonnie and Clyde (the infamous outlaws). They got a kick out of learning that their great-grandparents walked or rode a mule miles at night to go to a party or church social.
In retrospect, I’m of the opinion that it would be a good thing for more young people to hang out with their elders, listening to stories of the old days and perhaps even learning to appreciate what it took to live 50 plus years ago instead of taking for granted all the modern conveniences their world contains. If nothing else it will blow their minds to hear about families loading up in the back of pickup trucks to go to town, kids sleeping three and four in a bed, Christmas stockings containing fruit and nuts and little else, and bathing in a tub on the back porch AFTER someone else had used the same water. It cracks me up to hear the girls retelling the stories to their disbelieving friends. NOW is the time to record or remember those by-gone days that only grandparents can share from first-hand experience.
S.A.F.E Planning has many grandparents among our clients, and we invite readers to add their own remembrances in the comment section so others can enjoy and relate to.