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Visiting Grandmother’s House Part 1

10 Jul

A Slice of Life

Bill Lites

When I was about eight years old, our family went to Louisiana for a summer visit with my dad’s family.  Grandmother Lites lived in the same house where she and 1my grandfather had raised 13 children in the late 1800s.  The original acre homestead was located in the central part of the state, near the little town of Many, about 80 miles south of Shreveport.

Grandmother’s house was typical of farm houses during that period; single story, square white clapboard, with a breezeway down the middle, living room and kitchen on one side and two bedrooms on the other.  There was a small front porch with room for several slat rocking chairs, and a narrow screened 2back porch that ran the width of the house and was just wide enough for a couple double beds,

Running water in the kitchen for washing and cleaning was gravity fed from an overhead cistern behind the house.  Drinking water had to be hand drawn with a bucket from the well.  The only heat in the house came from the fire place in the living room or the old  wood burning stove in the kitchen.

3At some point electricity had been added to the house which was the source for the single bare 60-watt light bulb and pull chain in the center of each room.  The old wall mounted crank telephone was a novelty for us kids when the operator would come on the line and ask what number we wanted.

Slop jars were used at night and the two-hole outhouse during the 5day.  Baths for us kids were taken in a round galvanized tub in the middle of the kitchen floor.  The girls got to go first, since they usually didn’t dirty the water as bad as us boys did.

One of our main toys was an old tire that we rolled along 6most everywhere we went.  We had races with them, tied them to tree limbs for swings, and stacked them high to climb on to get at things out of reach over our heads.

The one most memorial visit for me was the year when the U.S. Army was holding one of their war maneuvers in the woods around my cousin’s and grandmother’s property.  My cousins and I would sneak off to the camp when nothing was going 7on, and wonder around checking out all the neat equipment and asking the soldiers questions.  The men were really nice to us, even letting us eat with them when the officers weren’t around.

Sometimes they would drive us out of the “restricted area” in one of their jeeps when they 8were getting ready to fire their howitzers (with blanks of course).  Even after they dropped us off, we were still close enough to get goose bumps every time one of those big guns was fired.   Wow! What a thrill that was.  We even got to play on them sometimes when the soldiers weren’t around, pretending we were helping win the war.  We didn’t know it at the time, but many of our country’s top generals attended those Louisiana maneuvers over the years.

I got a big kick out of helping my mother and grandmother make butter in the handcranked butter churn.  It always amazed me how the milk magically turned into butter and left that yummy buttermilk.  I loved buttermilk and drank it every time I got a chance.  Then there was the time the cows got into the bitter weed, and it made the milk so bitter I couldn’t drink it.




—–To Be Continued—–

What’s Your Favorite Color

24 Sep


My Take

DiVoran Lites

I like them all. Today I like turquoise. A beautiful book arrived in the mail, Inspired and Unstoppable, by Tama Kieves. It is pale turquoise. Crayons are perfect for marking passages, so I chose a turquoise one and a turquoise Pentel Pen (my favorite brand for many years.)

Onisha and Pam are coming over this afternoon and I wanted to wear a special tee shirt with my jean shorts. You guessed it, I picked turquoise with a faint violet thread through it.

I just bought new patio cushions, and they are turquoise. Funny how it just jelled today that it’s the color I now love best.

I don’t know what formal meaning this color has, but to me it means water, sky, mom, because she loved it. Color Me Beautiful, by Carole Jackson says it is the color most people look good in. If a color lifts your spirits, wear it, sleep in it, bathe in it, and love it.

I like books about color, and I’ve picked up a few quirky ideas by reading them. People debate this, but it is said that the color Indian Yellow, which is a bright yellow with a lot of orange in it is made by feeding mangos to cows then collecting their urine and using it as an ingredient in paint. Saffron is another yellow. It comes from the tiny pistil of a flower. Yes, its’ the same saffron that’s used in food. It costs $1,000 a pound, so as far as paints go, I’m glad we have the wonderful synthetics we have. Before that artists ground rocks to make ochre and other earth colors. Carmine came from the cochineal bug. Our foremothers, as we know, used plants to make indigo, what would we do without it? It’s the color of our jeans, but also now synthetic.

Color took off when car manufacturers began formulating acrylics in all the beautiful colors we see on the road. On the road and on my palette, I love them.

Last week in Sunday School the children helped me make up a story about a little girl named mud and how miserable and unhappy she was. She pouted all the time and had no friends. She preferred to sit in ashes. Her mother called on the Prince of Peace, he came and opened up her heart, and suddenly her world was full of color. Of course, she had to have a new dress, her old one was raw umber. A tentative “pink,” came out of a little girl’s mouth, but soon colors flew around the room so fast I couldn’t get them all on the board. Then the solution came: a rainbow dress. Oh yes, and in our imaginations it was beautiful.

The next thing was a name and another barrage of very nice names hit the board. How could we choose? Then Aaron, a six year old gave us a name. I wrote it phonetically, but I can’t tell you now what it was. It was colorful to be sure. We all knew spontaneously that it was a spectacular name for her. We’d call her by its last three letters, Zia. We can only trust that Mud, now, Zia, loved her name and her dress as much as we did. Now, what’s your favorite color?

John 7:38


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