Barnes & Noble.com
I got a high school diploma from night school and made a promise that my children would never go hungry. I felt a need to document my life for my grandchildren. I wrestled with the thought of dredging my mind to bring back the horrors that I had so long been trying to forget
The last two or three years I was home, Daddy and I had to do all the plowing. We would start breaking the land in the spring, me with one mule and him with two. When we got enough turned, Daddy would start planting with one mule and I continued plowing with two. Sometimes I became so exhausted I got dizzy and had to sit down for a while. I sat in the fresh plowed dirt that was cool. Not for long though. My conscience wouldn't let me sit more that a minute or two. I had to keep going or that field would never get plowed. Many times I have plowed all day in the hot sun and come home to a half glass of milk and a piece of corn bread and go to bed hungry. Sometimes Mama would pretend that she wasn't hungry and divide her share of milk with us kids. The one thing that still haunts me to this day is that we took it. We had no welfare, no food stamps and no Government assistance. We were hungry and on our own and every day was another day without hope and nobody gave a damn. The worst part was the feelings of despair,knowing that tomorrow would be no better.
We moved to an old deserted house to work someones land. The old house had what was called "board and batten siding". Twelve inch pine boards standing upright with strips over the cracks. Most of the strips had been removed or rotted off. The house wasn't sealed at all on the inside. You could see light through the outside walls. Mama made flour and water paste and we put newspaper and anything we could get over the cracks. The roof leaked everywhere. We sat buckets, pots and pans and bowls to catch the leaks. In my room we put pans on the bed and the water splattered on me. I awoke several nights with my bed wet from rain. Once I awoke with about an inch of snow on my bed. On a clear night I could lie in bed and count stars through the roof.
Between the floor and outside wall there was an opening that you could put your arm through. The white trash share croppers who lived there prior to us had been pouring their kitchen garbage through this opening. I can remember scraping this mess off the wall, floor and sill and washing it with hot water and lye soap. There were no seiling or insulation at all. It was unbearably hot in summer and unbearably cold in winter. It was heated by a rock fireplace. With a big fire going your legs would burn in front and freeze in back. We had to continuly turn from front to back trying to keep warm, like a pig roasting on a spit.