Friday, September 17, 2010

If you can't smile, don't come in.

I woke this morning to a slate-gray sky and cool breezes blowing across my bedcovers. I love to sleep with the windows open and will covet every morning for the next two months until the frost sets in. My mother scolded me as a girl for running around in my bare feet: "Donna May, Dr. Schneider's already told you that you'll catch pneumonia... put some socks on." I'd roll my eyes and make a u-turn back to the bedroom. Why she felt the need to throw Dr. Schneider into the conversation, I'll never know as his office visit lollypops were no match for her oak twig switches. To this day I associate doctors with tubesocks.

Winter mornings, I'd sprint from my bed to the livingroom and straddle the floor furnace in my long cotton nightgown and let the warm air fill me like a balloon before heading for the bathroom. Floor furnaces in those days were large natural gas burners with a blower and an iron gate fitted tightly across the firebox, then dropped into a crawlspace or basement such that the iron gate was flush with the flooring. The trick was not to step on the gate least you end up with a nasty burn. Except for a small gas space heater in the bathroom, the floor furnace was the only heat for our house and so on really cold mornings, Mama would crank up all the burners on the kitchen stove, light the oven and leave the door open. At night, she'd twist bathtowels into long snakes and stuff them under the cracks in the front door to guard against "blue northerns."

A cousin left some comments in the blog's photo gallery last night, but didn't leave her contact information, and so I'd ask each of you to please leave an email address; your stories are so important. So thank you cousin, you were correct in that I had the photo of great aunt Eliza and Maggie Pigg right, but the woman in the center was 2nd great grandmother Millie Tucker. Uncle Thurman (Walter Thurman Hicks) gave me his collection of family photos to copy; included is great grandmother Julia Pigg Dudgeon's scrapbook. I loved the the inscription you left on the photo of her and great grandfather Dudgeon and thought it a fitting title for today's blog.

The book is full of newspaper clippings about townspeople from Orrick, Missouri, clippings about the state of the war (WWII), recipies and dozens of poems and inspirational thoughts. She made a scrapbook for her grandaughter and my aunt Rosemary that's been passed down to me. In the back is a poem entitled "Memories of Home for Rosemary."

"I am thinking of my childhood home, that's many miles away
Where we lived down by the school house and where we children loved to play.

The old house is torn down now, but the cedar tree still stands. And I like to think things over when I had things at my command.

There was my brothers and my sisters, mother and dad, the Lord was very good to us and the good times that we had.

We didn't think about it then, but now that it is gone, we do.
How we gathered around the old piano, dad loved to sing and we did too.

The war came and took two brothers, and two cousins away far over the sea, God spared them to come back to the good USA.

It was close by the old Missouri River where we attended country school and church, but we all were very happy, just the little Dudgeon bunch.

Grandma and Grandpa were glad to see us, we were all sure of that. Santa made his trip so regular with his white whiskers and red hat.

But we are grown and I am married, and have a daughter of my own. But our minds go back to childhood where our cares were all unknown.

What good times we had at Christmas, Aunt Laura and the children came. Mother, Dad and Uncle Cecil, but now we have began to roam.

I am going back home some day, to where I spent my early life, those happy days of childhood we will cherish and forget the strife." (signed Memories of Grandma Dudgeon 1947 -- Dad 59; mother 47)


The ceramic floor tile feels cool to my feet this morning. When the seasons turn is when I miss my mother the most and would call just to hear her voice, and get a weather report. I told her once that she was grounded from the Weather Channel, and she giggled. Reaching for a clean t-shirt this morning, I bypassed the socks just to hear her whisper "Donna May, Dr. Schneider said..."

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