I was born Dec. 1st 1947 in Ionia Michigan. I was raised on a farm. We were very poor but I did not know it until I went to school in the second grade. My kindergarten was one field away in a one-room one-teacher schoolhouse. We had recess and would go slide down that big farm hill in the winter. When it was time to come in Mrs. Bercha would ring a bell. The bathroom was outside. In the winter cold months you had to put on your winter coats to use the outhouse. My class size was two a boy name Dennis and I sat behind the piano and played dominos. The other classes first through the eighth grade shared the rest of the building. After that year the old one room schoolhouse was torn down. My Mom Dad and I lived in a tenant house on my grandparent’s farm – there was a path worn from our home to grandma’s house. I trod that may times – was welcomed and would help myself to her brown bread and homemade butter. She was always there. I used to play in her button tin – she showed me how to make a button spin between thread or make a button bracelet. Up the dirt road was my great grandparent’s farm down the road was my Uncle Henry’s farm. That’s how it was back then people stayed and didn’t move around like they do today. Family was up a path or down the road. We had no running water or inside bathroom. An old cast iron cook stove was what my mom used in the winter to cook and heat the downstairs and a small two-burner electric stove, which sit on a table for summer cooking. The water had to be carried in for all our washing, cooking, and baths. Which I might add a bath was once a week and we all used the same bath water; I was always first then Mom and Dad. We did have electricity. I marvel at my mother’s ability to cook, bake and can vegetables from the garden with what she had. A washday was all day. Pull out the wringer washer, go get the water heat it – sort at least five loads of cloths. You washed the whites first, then by hand put the cloths through a hand wringer into the next tub of rinse water - then run through hang wringer - then outside to hang on the cloths line. You used that wash water over to do the rest of the wash then the last was the dirty work farm cloths. All day it took. Not done yet. Next day was all the ironing. Didn’t have perm press or thrown away hankies back then. In the winter cloths lines were strung up inside with papers on the floor to catch the drips. Well so much hard work back then for grown-ups.
I was too young to do much. My chores were, gather nuts, hickory- black walnuts- butternuts. Sometimes for supper Mom would send me out to gather wild asparagus, which grew in a corner of a field. Another chore I had was to take water back in the fields (in antique mason jars of today) to my Dad and Grandpa or whoever was working bailing the hay. So hot in those fields – they wore long sleeves, jeans, and hats. The sweat would soak the shirts and help cool the skin plus keep the sun from burning their skin. (Sunscreens hadn’t been invented yet)
The farm was a place where a child could play in the barn- make a tunnel in the hay. Climb to the very top of a corncrib and slide down on the corn. Watch grandpa milk a cow. Sit in a pear tree and eat a pear. Go to the creek take off your shoes pull up your pants and watch or catch polliwogs. Pretend riding on a tractor. I have a picture of that and will place it by this writing in my new book of poems stories and pictures. One of my favorite things to do was to climb on the very top of a wagon filled with bales of hay going to the barn for winter storage from a long hard work day in the hot fields of late Aug early Sept with my Dad or Grandpa driving the tractor. It was so much fun up there, summer breeze on my face, the bales of hay moving as the wagon moved on that dirt stony road .The world was down there and I was so big on top of that hay. What a wonderful feeling. Not a care in the world, just enjoying the ride and oh to be a kid again, to know that peace and serenity. I loved that farm and I did not know how much I would miss it until it was gone. I am sad that my girls will not know or experience that way of living for it is gone for no more generations to know.
I was married at seventeen and will be married forty-two years this Nov. I have three girls – all married – five grandchildren.
My hobbies are gardening, flowers and collecting antiques. I have two of my great grandfather’s wagon wheels in my backyard with ivy growing around and up the trees. I have peonies that my grandmother had in her garden and have passed some on to each daughter.
I have had painful experiences in my life but I know God made one as well as the other and he does not waste pain. I have written them down and maybe someday I can share my experience strength and hope with someone and just maybe help them.
I did not know and am still in awe of how God brings talents out in us at different times of our life if we just yield to him.
I was fifty-six before I picked up a pen and put it to paper and I have no formal education. At family birthdays I write each one a little poem or story and now every one wants one. I read them out loud and tears will come to their eyes. I have an endless supply of subjects and ideas that fill my head. God has led me on a journey and I’m not done yet for I feel he has more in store. I have more to learn and I pray grow in this newfound me.