Monday, May 2, 2016

Sis...let's make some...

Robert Peck, 1951 - 1997

All my life, my family has called me "Sis".  Now that there are only three of us, hearing "Sis" comes less and less frequently. That fact pulls out stories  about a few of those times.

My brother Robert was born January 14, 1951.  Then about eleven months later, I was born on December 4, 1951.  We were inseparable, sometimes enemies and sometimes friends.  But, always always we were ready to be there for the other.  

Robert was able to talk me into cook or bake a treat for him.  How, I don't know.  "Sis...let's make some..."  only he did not do the work. 

He convinced me to make deep-fried onion rings on Sunday afternoon. My hair smelled like onions even when we went to church at night.  Had to shampoo several times to remove that odor.  Then he thought frying up some bologna sounded good and I made that for him.  

But, Robert's favorites were anything sweet.  Again, he would say, "Sis...let's make some..." I would sigh, but there would quickly be some dessert of any type.

Here are some of his favorites, taken from Mom's cook book given to her as a wedding present in 1946. The binding is gone, pages fragile and crumbling. Lots of splatters and wear speak volumes.

God bless Betty Crocker.
She taught many war brides how to cook.

Sis. How I would love to hear Robert say "Sis...let's make some..." again.  I probably would mix up hundreds of batches, just for him.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Those who act in haste, repent in leisure...

File:Amish Outhouse.jpg
Building Plans available
This example is in much better condition than the one at Grandma's house.
Following Halloween shenanigans, outhouse tipping continued. Every house built in late 1800 era sported an outhouse, a necessity for the pre-plumbing days.  Some were quality, meant to last for many years.  Others were built in haste and their construction showed rickety and rotting wood.  Easy pickings, they were targets of gangs of boys treading through darkness and, with little effort, tipping those over.

My Grandmother Amy lived in one of those old houses and had one of the latter outhouses.  This made her graying and rusting outhouse a frequent subject of the outhouse gang.

Each time Grandma Amy had to phone my father, who then drove through dusky hours to place the structure back over the pit. After almost every night's misadventures, Dad and Grandma devised a plan:  move the outhouse over into wild roses, leaving the pit open under a dark moonless sky.  While they waited in silence and darkness with an occasional smirk and giggle, these monsters approached through with giggles of their own.

Moments later screams and profanity were heard as surprised boys tumbled feet forward into the open pit, a not-too empty pit at that.

Grandma and Dad switched on the porch light, and armed with flashlights, they smiled down on faces of well-known-miscreant teenagers. What the.....get us outta here...damn you...

Grandma armed with a water hose and Dad with a rope managed to pull the three boys out.  A casual stream of water dripped down over the excrement covered boys, leaving a healthy amount of odoriferous matter behind.  Dad directed them to place the outhouse back over the pit, promising to inform the town's mayor about them.

Following the order of penance, grumbling in whispers, the boys settled every outhouse through out town, securing them safely and securely in place.  They even assisted my father in building a new outhouse for my grandma; they also dug a new pit for her outhouse, refilling an old full pit in with soil.

This was a memory that gave Grandma a source of giggles the rest of her life.  God Bless Her.

A few years later, an addition to her house included a toilet and sink.

Amy Lucy (Dolly) Nichols Peck
July 1970

Friday, April 22, 2016

Teachers who truly love teaching...

Built in 1917, I think, after country schools could no longer handle the growing numbers of High School students.  It became an elementary school when a new high school was completed in the county seat.

An elementary school located in small rural areas during the 1950s were a toss-up when it came to teachers.  Many elements affected quality and availability.

Teachers were often women during the 1940s who simply took a tests, demonstrating intelligence and understanding of teaching requirements.  After WW2 ended, some of these women returned home.  Others were of retirement ages anyway, they stayed for money's sake, but were required to upgrade teaching skills annually. Some were good and caring, but others rode broomsticks to school.

Our third grade class was blessed with one of a few very few special teachers: Mrs. Mary Ellen Willard.  Unusual in many ways, Mrs. Willard was well-educated, had a teacher credential, and much experience. Following our class, she taught for thirty-one years, mainly in our small rural town. 

Of the class of 15 students, there were three of us who whizzed through an entire year's curriculum in the first six weeks.  What to do with Scott, Patty, and me? So, what to do with we three?

Mrs. Willard, now I recognize in looking back, let us pursue our creative instincts.  She required spelling tests and math tests, but cut the string,  basically and silently gave permission to have at it.

Such set up a life-time of learning!  Think of all the other bright students who benefited with her approach to teaching!

May God bless Mrs. Willard and all other teachers who share her love for learning.