I was a tomboy growing up in Greenwood Center. I didn’t care if my hair was combed, cut even or even if I had hair, but I wanted the center of my baseball glove to be pounded down so that when a line drive came my way it plopped in there and stayed there. I didn’t care if my jeans were ragged or if my shirt were tucked in, as long as my alder fish pole leaned against the side of the house waiting for me to grab and head for Wagner’s rock. Pole in one hand and a Maxwell House coffee tin in the other and I was a happy camper.
You can imagine what my poor mother endured with her only daughter. I took no interest in any of the pursuits she offered. I couldn’t sit still long enough to learn how to thread a needle in her treadle machine and she finally told me to forget about learning to cook since she had no ingredients to waste. In other words, she gave up. Let her only daughter be her fourth son, it didn’t matter any more!!
Truth is, I took an interest, just not enough to want to learn how to do these things. I joined the local 4-H club ( with a little prodding from Ma) and attended two meetings in town. We learned how to set a table correctly. Now this was no use to me…or at least not at that time. There were six people in our house with six of each utensil.Simple. We learned to fold napkins. Very pretty, except we didn’t use napkins. Maybe paper towels and surely my youngest brother used his shirt sleeve but cloth napkins? I could see Ma washing them on the scrub board each Saturday and delicately pinning those to the line between the two trees out back. She would be more than pleased to add those to the ever multiplying pile of clothes.
The second meeting was not as boring, but I had already decided it would be the final one. We were going to make mayonnaise. I could go to Vallee’s store and buy a jar and instead I had to learn to mix milk, eggs and who knows what . See? There was no logic whatsoever. Suffice it to say, my results were a cross between wallpaper paste and pancake batter. I never went back.
Now you’re thinking I was incorrigible and just did not want to learn. Not true. I sat in one of our high back kitchen chairs near the oven and watched as Ma put together her Finnan Haddie..or at least that is what she called it. I took it all in..the fish, the cream sauce, the butter, and the aroma and before it was cooked and ready to eat, I participated in drool. I just loved it and knew exactly how to make it. The answer? Give me something I liked and I could do it. Don’t put me in competition with Hellman’s Mayo.Hellman’s is rolling on the floor laughing and I am busy counting the minutes of my wasted time.
Oh those high back kitchen chairs I just mentioned? I remember the day that Ma nagged Dad, saying it was time we had something decent to sit in..the time had come. I cannot remember the vehicle or if all of us piled in, but I would not have missed it for the world. Over Rowe Hill we went, and up Old County Road to a gentleman’s house or store(?) for chairs. His last name was McDaniels because Dad sang his name all the way, irritating Ma no end. We piled chairs in the back seat, trunk and tied some on top and headed for home. You know, when Ma moved out of the house in Greenwood, in her mid eighties, there was still at least one of those high back chairs sitting in the corner.
But back to being a tomboy. How I loved baseball! The “flat” was the place to be most evenings when some came from Lockes Mills and we chose up teams. I have no idea why I remember this particular play, except being the only girl on the field, I must have been exceedingly proud of myself. I was playing second base, with a runner on first. The batter hit a line drive, I jumped and got it in the webbing of the glove, came down, and threw it to first for the double play. Maybe I remember because the runner was so angry and humiliated that a “girl” doubled him up.
You know, I may be wrong….but an athletic play like that sure lives in the memory a long time after you fail at making mayonnaise or trying to thread a needle.
My poor Ma lived to see me cook for four hungry kids and keep them nourished to the point where they were seldom sitting in one place for long; she saw me make little flannel shirts for my three sons on my own treadle machine. She knew all I needed was to sit by myself and figure it out.
But I still like the double play on the “flat” a lot better.