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Country Girl is an eclectic selection from my collection of over one hundred award-winning stories, essays and poems.
"Each piece in Country Girl stands alone; stitched together the stories and poems form a colorful patchwork quilt displaying the versatility of a talented writer."
--- Madonna Dries Christensen
Writer, Author, Editorial Board, Doorways
The Great Depression had swept our country, leaving thousands of men unemployed. But my dad found work at a dairy farm.
Our home on the farm was an ugly gray, weather-beaten old house on a hill overlooking railroad tracks and the Ohio River. We picked coal from the tracks to feed the kitchen stove and living room fireplace. Our water came from a rain-filled cistern. Mom covered the cracks in the walls with newspapers and the windows with Grandma’s old lace curtains.
Yet life was still exciting with unfamiliar woods to explore, a sparkling stream to wade, and added excitement when a hobo stopped by for a mug of hot coffee and a slice of my mom’s bread spread with her homemade butter and jam.
In 1940, I started school. My brother, a fourth grader, and I rode the bus to a school in town. I wore long brown cotton stockings, brown shoes laced to above my ankles, and dresses my mother had made from feed sacks. I envied the town girls with their beautiful store-bought clothes, white socks, and shiny black shoes. I yearned to be a town girl too, but I was poor and poor, in my mind, was country and country girls were always teased. I felt I was not as good as my classmates.
But my seventh birthday in March changed everything.
Instead of Mom’s cake, I wanted a bakery cake like other mothers brought to school for my classmates’ birthdays. Those times were grand and exciting to me. My family never celebrated with fancy cakes and parties. So I wanted to be like my new friends and have a bakery cake, too.
Without a car or telephone, my parents couldn’t order a cake even if they could afford one. But I wanted that bakery cake desperately. To me, it was the difference between being a country girl or a town girl.
I prayed to God each night to grant me just this one small wish.
“I’ll be good forever, God. I promise! But I need this cake, okay?” Then, I added, “A very pretty one, please.”
The morning of my birthday over a foot of snow covered the ground, causing the schools to close. I stared out my bedroom window, anxiously waiting for my special day to develop. Suddenly, out of the blowing snow, an old man appeared, his shoulders wrapped in a heavy gray blanket. I screamed for Mom to come see the hobo.
Mom opened the door and the old man walked in and hugged her. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Mom said the man was Al, a distant kin, whom she hadn’t seen in years. She hung his wrap over a chair by the kitchen stove to dry. In his arms was a big brown bag that he placed on the table.