by Ruthann Held Wike
I never thought my childhood was unique. I was pretty much like almost every other kid I knew. I had two parents. A mom and a dad. I was different in the fact that I had all four grandparents and both sets of grandparents celebrated their 50 year wedding anniversary. I thought that was the way it was supposed to be.
My family of 5, parents and older sister and brother, sat down to a home cooked meal each night at suppertime. After the meal, dad retired to the living room to read the daily paper. After mom cleared the leftover from the table, either refrigerating some for a later meal or feeding the cats and dog, she would join dad. That left the clean up to the kids.
After all was done and homework was completed, we all gathered in the living room to watch TV. We watched what dad wanted to watch. That ended with the nightly local news and Johnny Carson. Of course, age made a difference in bedtime. I just remember that when I was in high school I would see Johnny’s monologue and then head for bed.
Mom & dad had a small herd of milk cows, maybe 8 to 10. They milked cows early morning before doing other chores and then again in the evening before supper. The cows prevented us from ever taking a vacation. The first vacation I had was after I had worked a year and one-half and earned a week of paid vacation. I thought that was great! I finally got to travel to Florida and see the ocean! What a neat experience!
Anyway, back to southern Indiana. Even though we didn’t take vacations like my friend’s families, that didn’t keep us from doing things. During the summer, on Sundays after church, mom would pack a picnic lunch, that always included fried chicken, and we would head for a lake somewhere nearby. Lots of times we would meet family friends and have an afternoon of food, swimming, and fun with everyone.
We would always come home full, sunburned and tired. But there were always cows that needed to be milked. Then we would clean up and settle down for a relaxing evening.
I never had a “baby-sitter.” My parents took me with them where ever they went. Of course, they didn’t go out that much. They would visit friends and relatives, usually just to ‘visit’ and talk or, sometimes they would play Euchre. I would either read a book or watch TV. The other place I remember going with them was to funeral homes and funerals.
We always went to church. I remember as a child going to Sunday School after church. Our church was just one big room. I remember that the little kids met in one corner of the church and learned about oh so many wondrous stories of the Bible.
The ladies of the church all met in the pews set up in the front of the church for the choir.
The men met in the back of the church, on one side of the aisle for their class.
I don’t remember where my brother and sister met for their class. I’m thinking that it was the opposite side from the men.
During the summer we always had a week of “Bible School.” I remember singing all the children’s songs, with all the hand motions included. I think one of the favorites was “I’m in the Lord’s Army.” With that, we got to ”March in the infantry, ride in the cavalry, shoot the artillery and fly o’er the enemy.” We all loved that song. Plus many, many more like Zacchaeus being a “wee little man,” and “Jesus Loves Me.”
The leaders always had some great craft project for the kids to work on, so at the end of the week each child had something to take home with him. I still have book ends and ashtrays that I made.
Then, there always was a time when we would have cookies and kool-aide for refreshments. I remember the store bought “windmill” cookies that I didn’t get any other time as well as the “red” kool- aid. Those are still very good memories.
School was another story. It was a building with four class rooms. There were two grades in each room. First and Second, Third and Fourth, Fifth and Sixth and the fourth room was the Seventh and Eighth. There as a kitchen, furnace room, office and girls bathroom at one end of the hall and a boys bathroom at the other end.
The teacher would have a lesson for the grade on one side of the room, and while they were working on some assignment, the teacher would have a lesson for the grade on the other side of the room. I remember that when I was in the first grade, I would also watch what the second grade was doing and try to do that, too.
When it was lunchtime, each room, in turn, would go out into the hall and in a line, file past the kitchen to get a tray for lunch. I don’t remember many meals, but I do remember that they would have chili and peanut butter sandwiches. That was in the days before so many kids were allergic to peanuts. I wonder what in the world happened to cause that mass allergy?
I remember that when I was in the third and fourth grade, one of the local TV channels started having a 15 minute spot where they were teaching children Spanish. For whatever reason, the Fifth and Sixth grade room was the only one that had a TV, so we would march from one room to another, sit with one of the kids in that room and have a Spanish lesson.
About all I remember from that is how to count to ten.
Of course, probably everyone’s favorite time was recess and lunch hour. Then we got to go outside to play. We had all the playground equipment that today is labeled as dangerous.
We had swings that we girls loved, and would swing as high as we could. There were monkey bars, Teeter Totters, a tall metal slide, a merry-go-round (without horses) that somebody had to push, then jump on.
Sometimes we would use chalk to draw on the sidewalk and play hopscotch. Or if we had a rope, we could play jump rope. Some of the girls were really good at “hot peppers.”
In bad weather, we would stay inside and play Jacks. That was one of my favorites.
I feel sorry for kids growing up today. They are missing out on so much. We didn’t have a lot, but we had families filled with love, and lots of friends.
U S Legacies