Our present lives are far different than those of our ancestors. We have so many modern conveniences that we take for granted, because we've always had them. Most of us have jobs outside our homes and we depend on the grocery stores for our food, the gas stations to fuel our transportation and the utility companies to provide us with the conveniences of indoor air conditioning and heat, running water, cable or satellite television, internet connections and phone service for landlines. I often wonder, what if... all those things were stripped away and I had to survive without them? What in the world would I do? I'm so spoiled to those things which make my life what it is.
In her memoirs, my Mom shares her story of what her childhood was like growing up in rural southern Mississippi, without the modern amenities I'm so blessed with.
The above photo was taken about 1943. My Mom, about 2 years old at the time, was in the arms of her mother, Susie Johnson Simmons. Mom's brother Alton is standing in front of their father, Woodrow Wilson Simmons. When I study this photo of my grandmother, I see a young woman with a hard life- her skin deeply tanned by the sun, her dress stained. She didn't have many choices of clothing, she wore what was provided to her. My grandmother would have two more children- Gertie and Elton. Life became even harder for the family when their father, Woodrow, left and they had to survive the best way they could.
My Mom's story continues....
I will never forget the first time my Grandpa spanked me. He used a saga [sic] brush broom straw of course he could not have made a mark on a stick of soft butter with this. But to me he broke both of my legs and a heart.
Running into the house screaming I crawled under the bed. It took Grandma on her hands and knees at least a hour to beg me out from under that bed so she could love the hurt away.
My grandpa died in September 1952 three weeks later in October Grandma died. After this we sort of losted [sic] some of our childhood. But Love is ever present when you have nothing but that to carry you through hard times.
Our Mother was a good woman that worked hard and gave what little time she had lefted [sic] to her children. I can remember her working all day then comming [sic] home at night cooking for her children but never going to bed without praying with them.
In the Spring I have seen her pull a plow like a horse. Alton would guide it and I would drop the seeds so we could grow a garden and have food. You see back then there was no welfare and food stamps.
We would wash sometimes at night with the light of a kerasine lanter [sic] and the light from the wash pot fire. We would hang the clothes on clothes lines and sometimes they would freeze stiff before we could get them hung up.
We didn't have electric or indoor plumbing. The house was a four room shell. No screens no ceiling or walls. With a old wood heater it was cold in winter. Once you got into bed you couldn't move because of all the quilts that was piled on top of you.
In the summer there was no fans or A.C. So you could go to bed with windows and doors open you didn't have to worry about being robbed because there was not one thing worth stealing.
On Saturday night people would gater [sic] up and listen to the raido [sic] boil peanuts. There was no t.v. the raido [sic] was battery opertor [sic]. Family and friends would be together for a few hours of peace and rest. On Sunday we wented [sic] to church. We had to walk most of the time but if the weather was bad Mama would drive us in the pick up truck. We had the Love of God and our Mother to carry us through.