It is a hot dog day of August here on the farm. The grass in the lower field has turned brown and crisp. The few showers pelt down so quickly, any good rain runs right off the top of the ground. The three boys are outside. Their cousin, Mark, comes each day during this summer and they are delighted to have someone to play with besides each other. Debbie is in her room and reading. She has inherited that gene from me.
This day began as most days on the farm. I was up before the sun to ready the bottles for the milk to come in from the barn. After straining it all with my cheesecloth, it is put inside the refrigerator and the task comes to washing the strainer and using boiling water to make sure it is absolutely clean.
The kids are early risers and after Mark arrives, they find plenty to do outside. This morning we had a pleasant surprise. An unexpected visitor came into the yard and no one recognized the car, so great excitement reigned throughout.
The man got out of his car, turned and brought out a huge valise. Oh, no, he was selling something and I don’t need anything and if so, did not have the extra money. However, it is the practice to be friendly to anyone trying to make a living in these days of the Sixties, so with a smile I invited him in to sit at the kitchen table and show me his wares.
Oh, the variety and color turned the kitchen table into a rainbow of color. By this time, the boys were curious and came in to take a look from the kitchen corner. There were greeting cards, knick knacks and every kind of salt and pepper shaker one could ask to have. Suddenly Mark came over and leaned a bit on me and pointed at a set of shakers. “Can I get those for Mum?” he whispered. “Do you think she wants that set?” I asked, because they did not appeal, at all, to me. He shook his head emphatically that he really wanted them as a surprise present. The salesman smelled a sale and announced they were only a dollar. I was reluctant to part with the dollar but thought what a thoughtful little boy to want to take his working mother a gift.
The salesman left, dollar in his pocket, and I handed the shakers to Mark. He grinned all over and placed them carefully with the rest of the things he had brought for the day. “I didn’t know your mother liked mice,” I ventured as I handed him the ceramic rodents. “She doesn’t. She’s scared to death of them.” he replied and all the boys ran out the door, and Mark’s laugh echoed back. Oh, boy, I am glad I am not going home with him and the shakers tonight!
We do have some salesmen who come on a regular schedule. The boys get so excited when the Cushman truck comes up the hill. Their favorite things are the raspberry turnovers and I usually need some bread. Vance Bacon , from West Paris, is the driver and he stops to visit a few minutes with the kids and me each time he comes.
We usually butcher every year but if there is a year when that is impossible, there is a man with a meat truck who stops by. His prices are reasonable and the meat is very good, but the kids don’t get quite as excited when there are no raspberry turnovers inside.
My mother told me last week she has purchased a portable White sewing machine “from a man who came to the door.” She is really excited about having a machine she doesn’t have to treadle!!
The Rawleigh man stops at the farm occasionally and if I am in need of a bottle of vanilla or something inexpensive, I buy from him. Even the Watkins man has found his way up our hill.
All these people are trying to make a few dollars during hard times and I hate to say no, so I try and help out as much as I can. I remember the days of my peddling Cloverine Salve, Rosebud Salve and the Grit and how good it felt when I finally could count out my profit!!
It is getting hotter and more muggy as the afternoon draws on. I call in the kids and pour them a jelly glass full of Kool-Aid and soon all five have a purple moustache. They take their glass and go sit in the shade of the big elm by the lilac bush.
It has been a long day and still supper to put on the table. I think I will have a little Kool-aid myself and read the Lewiston Sun which just came in the mailbox.
August can be brutal.