Lately I’ve been noticing all the things some other kids have, especially listening to them talk about it at school. How they go places and do things and their mothers and fathers bought them this and that.
This morning Ma was trying to bake and she took out her big tin of flour, opened it and there was a mouse in it. She tore out of the kitchen into the front yard and was yelling like crazy. When she came back in the house, flour was everywhere and probably it was not the best time to ask her, but then sometimes my mind thinks of things and right out my mouth they come. I said, are we poor, Ma? Well, there she stood, covered in flour, and she stopped , looked at me and said, only if you think you are.
Well, all my life I figure we have as much as everyone else in Greenwood Center. Well, there are those people who have bigger houses and better cars, but still we get along.
We don’t have to go places to have fun. Rex and I play ball in our front yard. We use the big rock by the driveway as second base and third base is a little rock by a tiny flower garden off to one side. Home plate and first base is whatever we get our hands on. I remember one day when we were playing ball and Rex decided it was his turn to bat. See, we made up our own rules as there was just the two of us playing. I decided he had batted many more times than he had a right and I declared it was my turn to bat. Well, he said he was not going to play if I had to bat all the time. He went into the house and I showed him. I took the bat , put it over Dad’s saw horse, took his buck saw and sawed it in two pieces. That took care of that problem. Ma says I have a very short fuse which I think means it does not take much for me to get stomping mad and I guess that proves it.
Rex said he didn’t care if he ever played ball with me again anyway. We found something to use for a bat and in a few days we were playing ball again.
Sometimes we have to wear mittens that don’t match in the winter but at least our hands are warm, no matter what the colors are and Gram Martin always knits us our Christmas hat so our ears are warm. Sometimes I am a little embarrassed if I have to wear the boys’ flannel shirts to school, but no one says anything to me. Maybe they know about my short fuse? Not to mention the loose buckles on our rubber overshoes clanging as we walk into school!
Some of the Cole boys have bikes, but I think they are rich anyway because they have a big farm, with a big truck and animals and all. We always get our Thanksgiving chicken from them, though Dad calls it a roadrunner. Sometimes Wilmer Bryant sends us over a gallon of milk by our mailman, Johnny Howe. That is surely appreciated as Dad uses it with crackers and milk , he says, for his ulcers.
We always have food on the table, so we don’t go hungry like most poor folks. Dad is always on the go for hunting and fishing and he makes sure there is game for us to eat. I don’t mind rabbit stew, but one time he brought home a bear and that bear meat was plain awful. It isn’t like we don’t have meat from the store, because Ma brings home fish sticks, hot dogs and hamburg. As long as a person isn’t fussy and eats what is on the table, Ma says no one will ever go hungry. We always tease Ma if we have a frosted cake because we tell her we know she burned it and that is why we have frosting on it. She laughs because that old oven is terrible and propped up with a stick so she never knows what her baking will turn out to be.
We have music in our house. Ever since I can remember, Dad has played the guitar, but I can’t remember his playing it like other folks because the accident at the saw mill crippled the fingers on his left hand, so he lays it on his lap and plays it with either a round green bar or a flat silver one. He has taught me how to play Iwo Jima Isle and a couple other songs on it. Tink has his Gene Autry guitar hanging from a nail on the stairway. Rex can play some, too and we all can sing. So guess we don’t have to go anywhere for entertainment.
We don’t have electricity yet like some folks. Ma puts a lot of value on the kerosene lamps. Once Rex and I were fighting in the little room off the kitchen. I had a broom and tried to hit him with it and instead, broke the chimney of a lamp sitting there. Ma was sure mad that time! She sent me packing off to all the neighbors to see if I could borrow a lamp chimney til she could get to town. I tried to explain that it was Rex’s fault to begin with, but she would not hear a word of it. I did hear something about my short fuse when I went out the door.
I guess, when it all boils down, you’re only poor if you think you’re poor. The way I see it, we have just about everything that anyone else has, but maybe not quite as grand.