This is a two parter folks…….part 1
My grandparents lived in a huge house! There was an eat in kitchen in the back, dining room, living room, a couple of bedrooms, lots of land, cows, bulls, horses, pigs, dogs and a magnificent wrap around porch. The porch had not one but three screen doors which were constantly in use. My grandparents had 10 children and almost all of them had children. To say there were a lot of grandkids, would be an understatement. I lived in Memphis and I did not spend much time with my grandparent or my cousins; however, I do recall my first overnighter with this side of the family. It was a weekend event and things were about to get interesting.
The first night, my cousins and I were all piled in one bed. I am talking maybe seven of us squeezed on a full size mattress. Someone started singing, I don’t really remember the song but it might as well been the Ten Little Monkey song. “10 little monkeys all in the bed, one turned over and the other one said, rollllll over I’mmmmm crowded. So they all rolled over one monkey pushed out…” Well, it turned out that monkey was ME. I will never forget the smell of that hard wood floor as my nose came face to face with it. Everyone back in the bed thought this was hilarious. I remember thinking this was unacceptable. But what was I to do? I was out numbered. I crawled in at the foot of the bed and went to sleep. The next time I opened my eyes it was dark as coal. There were no night lights. In fact, there were no lights at all in that back bed room only candle light and someone had blown the candle out! I was a little freaked out. No, panicked would be a better term. I remember lying there wondering how did I end up between two bodies? I could not see a thing, I had no idea who I was beside but at least I had cover now and was toasty warm. In fact I was really warm. It was like someone just turned a heating pad on. It did not take long for me to figure out what was happening! That delightfully warm heating pad turned icy cold and wet! Dang it, it was back to the foot of the bed for me. I not only found myself without cover I was now frozen and wet to boot! I remember thinking I was never going to spend the night again! These people I called my cousin’s, were rotten. Of course, I didn’t realize at the time there was a hierarchy and I was at the bottom, being the sporadic part-timer that I was.
The next day we all played in the field where the livestock was kept. This was the first and only time I had ever played stick ball! Ever heard of it? You find a stick and a rock then play baseball, with a STICK AND A ROCK! How Absurd. But it turned out to be loads of fun. Later in the day, a game of chase leads to a black-eye for me. I ran into a building. I heard the adults call it an outhouse. By the way, that game of chase was with a bull not my cousins. By that night, I had a light layer of dirt on me that gave the look of a nice tan. Heck all of us did. Grams announced we all had to get a bath before bed time. Ugh, that word bed-time had become an issue for me. Everyone was gathering their stuff and heading into the kitchen. There in the kitchen was a long line of adults and kids. I swear when I think of it today I think of the Oliver Twist line, “more, please”. Large pans of water were being boiled on the stove. I remember looking over to the sink to see mounds of buckets filled with water and then… it began. The adults and older kids took the hot water to the back porch and dumped it into a steel watering trough and the younger ones were assigned to the cold water dumping. I was in that regiment. Out of the 15 or so kids there that weekend I was somewhere around the 5th from the youngest. I could not believe my eyes. Grams had a tub made of steel on the back porch, the back porch I say. I remember thinking I had not seen a bathroom at her house the entire time I had been there. All the kids just went in nature’s outdoor glorious spa. I mean who had time to stop playing, run back to the house and use the bathroom? Soon the tub was filled. It could hold 4 kids at a time. What was this???? Everyone had to share bath time?? What was happening to my life? The order to bathe went oldest to youngest. While the older kids were bathing, the rest of us would find games to play. Soon it was my turn. I had given way to the idea of sharing my water with the other kids. I did not like it but I would go along with it. I mean did I really have a choice? However, what happened next was just plain disgusting!
Disclaimer: I was somewhere between 8 and 12 when all this was going on so the little incidentals maybe a bit fuzzy but the main events REALLY did happen.
TO BE CONTINUED ……… This Side of the Family …part 2