“My Childhood Memories” by Virginia Muller

When I was three years of age, my mother passed away. My dad's brother took me with his family to live for a period of time. Some of my happiest memories of childhood occurred while living with my aunt, uncle and two cousins on their farm. One cousin was a few months older than me, and we really used to stir some mischief.

Being a "farm kid" carried much responsibility, but we always had time for fun. You learn early-on what life is about. From the age of five, I remember gathering eggs from the chicken coop, watch my uncle hold the eggs to a light, making sure they were fresh, pack them, and sell to rural neighbors and "Addy's" local grocery store.

My oldest cousin would chase a chicken, catch it, hold it's head over a wooden block, and decapitate it with an ax. That old chicken would flop about the barnyard for the longest time. My aunt would then dip that chicken in water, hot enough to pluck the feathers, then clean it for Sunday dinner. I still remember the horrible smell of that wet chicken!

There was an old "out-house" behind that chicken coop. Luckily it was a two seater, none of us liked to go there alone at night.

We milked cows, twice a day, I was too small to do much, so I had the job of washing the cow udders. Grateful that I wasn't the one that had to help clean the barn. I was not allowed in the hog pen, I was told those "porkers" were mean!

Hay balers came when that season came around. My aunt, cooked and baked for hours to feed men that came to help farm. It was my job, after meals, to stand on a milking stool and dry dishes, many, many of them. I remember, too well, the old pump handle on the side of the sink.

Butchering was just part of the routine. Hogs, cattle, rabbits, chickens, whatever. The best part of farm life was being able to keep the stray animals, finding kittens in the barn, catching pups that people would abandon along country roads.

All three of us had a pony to ride. We'd pick blackberries on the side of the hill, and look for mushrooms in the woods. Occasionally we would forget the time, be late getting home for dinner and chores. We were too busy being cowgirls and Indians. There was one time I was the good cowgirl, my cousin was the bad Indian. I left him in the creek, hanging by a rope (not like you are imagining) it was a loose rope, and he was standing on a rock in the middle of the creek. Nonetheless, I got thrashed for leaving him there. He could not get out of the creek, and it was dark by the time my uncle found him and brought him home. I was in "deep" trouble!

Bonnie, Bo-Peep, and Doc, our three ponies, were as much a part of our family as our relatives.

Halloween, a great time. We would shuck corn and my uncle would take a pick-up truck bed full of "trick or treaters" on Beggars Night. If no treats, the worst we ever did was throwing corn on people's porches.

Ah, Thanksgiving. All the family, aunts, uncles, cousins, and good friends were included. Each of them brought their special dish, boy, did we eat! After dinner, women did dishes, put things away, then off to a room to talk, talk, and talk some more. The men retired to a sitting room to listen to ball games on an old Philco radio.

We kids, on the other hand, went outside, into the cold and played until practically frozen. We had snowball fights, sleigh rides, and played hide-'n-seek. Such innocent fun when we were young.

Christmas was the best holiday ever! We would cut down a tree, make chains of ribbon, string cranberries and popcorn to decorate this beautiful pine. Again, it was for all the closeness, like Thanksgiving. We each got one gift, and were always pleased with whatever it was, homemade, store bought, it didn't matter.

Church, of course, a given, no excuses. Sunday after dinner was a time to listen to my aunt play the organ as we attempted to sing hymns along with her wonderful sounds of music.

Our clothes were homemade, but love was in abundance. My grandfather was in a rocking chair, walked with a cane. I recall him chasing me across the kitchen when I had done something ornery. I would run down the basement stairway because I knew he could not come after me. I should have been kinder, he did teach me to be a pretty good checker player.

Growing up, I was adopted and my life was moved to the city. This part of my life was not the most memorable. My new parents were alcoholics, spent most of their time at the Eagles, Moose, or anywhere they could congregate and drink.

My first kiss, WOW, I was in the sixth grade. My adoptive mom found my first-hand-written love note. Can you imagine? I was grounded for that! My best friend and I got caught sneaking out with clothes we wanted to wear, but weren't allowed. Grounded again! Interestingly enough, my best friend married the boy that gave me my first kiss!

Another memory I recall is not having a driver's license, but a friend talked me into driving her sister's stick shift, foreign car. We side-swiped a bus in our travels that night, but we didn't get caught, made it home safe, sound. Her sister never did find out how her fender got dented! (If I thought my kids would have done such things, I would have locked them in a room!)

Playing spin the bottle, and, oh, the girl ask boy dances. Could there be any better memories?