My Dad

Let me introduce you to my dad.  He was born and raised in Marshall County and was the youngest of seven children.  He was a gentle man who was always available to help anyone in need.  Every year, he grew enough vegetables to share with families in the neighborhood.  He also did plumbing jobs on the side for little or no payment. Dad was a very hard working man throughout his entire life.  He always expected my sister and me to do our best in all of our endeavors because that’s just what he expected of himself.   And, we tried our very best to never let him down.

Since he was the youngest child, he was opened to suggestions from his siblings, especially his brothers.  They lived on a farm and had to use their imagination to entertain themselves because there was no television, computer or any of the other devices that are available to kids today.

One of my favorite stories about Dad was how each evening my grandmother would go to the pasture and bring the cows to the barn for the night.  Once they got to the barn, it was Dad’s job was to herd them inside and latch the doors.  One of his brothers suggested that when the cows got to the barn door, he should jump out and scare them – how funny would that be.  Not aiming to let the older guys have all the fun, that is exactly what he did.   When the cows appeared at the barn door, he jumped out and yelled.  Of course this sent them running back to the pasture and Grandma had to walk all the way back to the field and bring them to the barn again.  Let me add here that Grandma was a wonderful woman but she was strict and didn’t have much of a sense of humor.   Anyway, Dad scared the cows a couple of times before my grandmother decided to see what was causing them to run away from the barn.  When she walked in the barn, Dad jumped out and yelled thinking the cows were back, never dreaming that his mom would appear in the door. Yep, you guessed it, she didn’t scare as easily as the cows and I do believe she used the tobacco stick on him that day.  But, I bet it was fun anyway!

I have plenty more funny stories about Grandma and her lack of humor that I will share with you in later posts.

See ya next Wednesday.


Baby Jesus

Do you remember your first pet?  Well, I do and I want to share with you what happened to my first pet.  Animals have always been a big part of my life and still are.  I have had dogs, cats, birds, fish, but my first pet was a little chicken that I named Baby Jesus.

Baby Jesus was kept in a little cage outside so everyday I would take him out of his cage and hold him while I talked and sang to him.  One day, as I was sitting out in the yard, a great big chicken hawk flew down and snatched Baby Jesus out of my hands and flew away.  As I watched him fly off with my baby chicken, I started screaming, “he took my Baby Jesus; he took my Baby Jesus.” My mom was in the house cleaning, of course, but she came running outside to see why I was carrying on so much. I tearfully told her what had happened.  She was pretty mad that I had made such a ruckus, but then she realized that he could have picked me up just as easily as he had my chicken and kind of got over her aggravation.  I never saw my Baby Jesus again.  But never fear, I’m sure he went to Chicken Heaven.

We also had a parakeet named Tweety and that sucker could talk.   During the summer, my sister and I would play in the backyard and every so often, my mom would come to the back door to check on us and would call to me, “Karen, come here.”  Once she was satisfied that we were both okay, she would go back into the house and we would continue playing.   You know, after a while, I would hear, “Karen, come here,” and would run to the back door to let my mom know we were okay but would discover that Tweety was calling me, not my mom.  We had Tweety for several years and had other parakeets after his death.  But, none of them ever talked quite as well as he did.

Baby Jesus and Tweety were just two of my childhood pets and I will share more pet stories with you in the future.

See ya next Wednesday.

Calf Slobber

That got your attention, didn’t it?

Last week I introduced you to my little sister Cheryl.  Much to my pleasure, she came from Georgia to visit me this past weekend.  We had a great time and talked about some of our adventures when we were growing up.  We also looked through some old family photos that she brought with her.  It’s funny, but as we looked at these old photos, stories about each one came to mind.  We fixed some good food too and I made one of her favorite dishes, a six-cup salad.  I’m not sure where this dish originated but it has been a family favorite for many years.  Now, I don’t know the exact name of this salad other than six-cup salad; however, my dad called it Calf Slobber and my mom called it Gary’s Salad. You will find the recipe at the end of this story, but first let me explain the odd names given to this dish.

Honestly, I couldn’t tell you exactly why dad called it Calf Slobber; I just know he said that’s what it looked like.  My dad’s family had a dry sense of humor and you’ll see more of their humor in future stories.  Anyhow, I will leave it to your imagination to figure out why he called it Calf Slobber.

It came to be called Gary’s Salad from a boy named Gary who attended one of the churches where my dad preached. Gospel meetings were held during the summer and we would have a big dinner-on-the-ground after Sunday morning services.  The men of the congregation would bring farm wagons and anything else that would make good-sized tables to hold all the delicious homemade dishes prepared by the ladies. My mom would bring this salad to the dinner at the request of Gary, and that’s how it came to be known as Gary’s Salad.  Now, once the meal was over and the mess had been cleared away, everyone would gather in the church auditorium and sing gospel hymns for a couple of hours.  It was a good day!

Okay, so here’s the recipe as promised:

                   Calf Slobber

1    small carton of Whipping Cream
1    8 oz. pkg. cream cheese softened
1    cup pineapple chunks
1    cup red seedless grapes halved
1    cup pecan pieces
1    cup miniature marshmallows

Beat the whipping cream into stiff peaks and set aside.  Add 3 to 4 tablespoons of pineapple juice to the softened cream cheese and beat until smooth and creamy. Combine the whipped cream and cream cheese mixture, add the remaining ingredients and chill overnight. Serve as salad or dessert.  Serves 8.

Believe me, this salad is delicious and I hope it will become one of your favorite dishes too.  I would love to hear what you think of Calf Slobber.

See ya next Wednesday.

My Little Sister

My little sister Cheryl has always been a treasure to me.  She was born on January 8th which is the same day as Elvis’ birthday. That mere fact has gotten her into Graceland free and has allowed her to step to the front of the checkout line at Wal-mart.

I loved my little sister very much and wanted to share everything with her.  Following her birth, the area around her umbilical cord needed to be swabbed often with rubbing alcohol to prevent infection.  During the day, she would lie on the couch and I would talk to her and tell her about all the adventures we were going to have when she got bigger.  One day I decided that since I liked the smell of alcohol, she just might like it too.  So, I carefully leaned down with the open bottle and tilted it toward her face to make it easier for her to get a good whiff.  Now, you have to remember that I was only four years old and was only trying to help her.  Well, she smelled it alright; it spilled directly into her face and she began struggling to breathe.

My mother was in the kitchen when she heard my sis gasping for breath. She came running into the living room and asked me what had happened.  I tried to explain it to her; however, due to her hysterics, she just didn’t understand how helpful I was being. Anyway, she grabbed Cheryl off the couch and helped her start breathing normal again.  I’m sure that I was threatened with a whipping if I ever did anything like that again.  And believe me, I got plenty of those during my childhood.

My little sister recently earned her doctorate in Education and I just know breathing that alcohol made her smarter.  I’m not so sure she would agree with me about that or if she even likes the smell of alcohol.

Cheryl and I shared a lot of great adventures while we were growing up and continue to do so even now.  There will be plenty more stories of our escapades later.

See ya next Wednesday.

Our First House

I grew up in Sharpe, a little community in Marshall County, Kentucky.  It consisted of two groceries, a doctor’s office, an elementary school and several churches.  Sharpe was a close-knit community between Paducah and Benton where everyone knew their neighbors and looked out for one another.  U.S. Highway 68 was the only paved road that ran through Sharpe; all the side roads were gravel.

We lived in a four-room cinder-block house on the Bottom Road just off Highway 68. The house consisted of a living room, two bedrooms and a kitchen; nope, there was no bathroom.  Each room was wallpapered and the floors were wood with vinyl rugs on them and screamed every time you walked across them.  Since there was no insulation, field mice would gnaw on the walls to make a place to build their nests.  I can just picture how I would lie in my bed at night and listen to the mice gnawing on my walls.  Yep, there were holes in the walls where the mice actually made it through to the room.  Now, that reminds me of a time when my dad asked me to help him kill a mouse, but I’ll save that for another day.

We had a little well-house out back which held the wringer-washer and shower.  If you don’t remember what a wringer-washer was, let me tell you that thing was scary. When I think back about it, I picture the robot on Lost in Space.  The wringer part was very dangerous, but fascinating – I mean to watch clothes and towels run through it; how fun was that.  However, folks were known to get their fingers or arms caught in the wringer and their skin was pulled off.  So, we were never allowed to go near the well-house when mom was doing laundry.  Anyway, once she finished washing and rinsing the clothes, she would hang them on the clothes line to dry.  To this day, I still remember how good the bed sheets smelled after hanging outside all day.

Our little house was cozy and a lot of great memories were made there.  We had very little in the material nature, but we were a family and each night we would gather at the table for a good home-cooked meal.

See ya next week.