I started school at a one-room school-house a few miles from our Wisconsin farm. Grades one through five were all taught in the same room by the same teacher.
I look back at the experience with nostalgia.
There were 8 students in my first grade class which was by far the largest class in the school. There were 4 second graders and three third graders. If my memory is correct there were 4 fourth graders and 5 fifth graders. Of the eight students in first grade only two of us were girls. The first graders were dismissed for recess earlier than the other grades. I had only the one girl to play with. Unfortunately, she moved away in the fall of the year and I was then the only girl. I did not look forward to recess anymore. I would have been fine playing with the boys since I had five brothers, but the six boys in my class saw no reason to include a girl in their play.
I happen to be 63 so she is a much older sister. And I remind her of that every chance I get.
Carol is the sister with whom I made mud pies and with whom I shared a room when we were growing up.
She was always petite and small-boned while I was the big, strapping girl. I was taller and heavier as far back as I can remember. As younger sisters often do, I annoyed her greatly. We would get into physical scrapes. My mom told me more than once that I had to be careful with Carol. I was so much bigger than she was and I could really hurt her. Couldn’t my mom see that Carol was like a bantam rooster, fierce, stubborn and relentless? And that she had the upper hand in almost every dispute?
Growing up with seven brothers and sisters was always interesting, sometimes enjoyable, and often aggravating. We had tiffs and spats but also managed to play very well together frequently. I did not appreciate it at the time, but I realize that we were blessed to grow up in that environment. There were plenty of chores around the house and the dairy farm to keep us busy but we did find time for fun.
Sometimes all eight of us kids would play touch football, softball and wiffle ball with 4 person teams, but mostly the older boys didn’t want to play with us little kids.
We four or five youngest kids entertained ourselves in many imaginative ways. The family moved when I was in first grade and our new farm offered new opportunities. The entire farm was our playground. We had an old quonset hut on the farm that mom had outfitted as a playhouse. It contained old pots and pans, dishes, and empty boxes of cereals and other food items, games, books and a variety of old furniture. We had dogs and cats, all of which were outside animals. My brother had a rabbit named Snowball.
Dairy farmers used powdery lime on barn alleys to absorb liquid, neutralize odors and prevent slipping. The powdered calcium carbonate was delivered by the truck load to the farm. We had a small outbuilding dubbed the lime shed used for storing the barn lime. Wheelbarrow loads would be hauled to the barn and kept in an old barrel for immediate use. But the large pile of lime in the lime shed was a play area for my little brothers and me. During hot summer days the lime remained cool. We could spend entire afternoons out of the sun in the coolness of the shed. We were road builders. We used my brothers’ Tonka trucks and various materials from around the farm like small sections of concrete drainage pipe, concrete blocks and bricks and built quite elaborate road systems in the lime. Were these roads precursors to the super highway system?
Today my Saturday stitching post features a cross stitch piece that is a very early item that I stitched. I believe I did it around 1984 although at the time I did not know enough to add my name and date to the work I did. I was just getting into cross stitch and had no idea that it would become a passion for me for the rest of my life. Much of my early work was completed as gifts but this is a piece I kept for myself. It did not get framed until years later but it has now been displayed in two homes that I have lived in.
These comments are heard way too often from children today. In our world with small nuclear families, where we likely live far away from extended family, don’t know our neighbors, and worry about protecting our children from threats of society, the spontaneity of childhood is diminished. Play dates have to be scheduled. Children expect adults to provide activities to entertain them. Contrast this with an agrarian society where children were first expected to do their chores and free time was easily filled with a diverse number of activities and interests. Even if they felt bored they were not likely to admit it lest they be assigned another chore.
Today kid’s lives are frequently too structured. Children at times are scheduled very heavily into different adult-driven activities. They are too often given unlimited access to TV and electronic games. While these might have a place in a child’s life, the right balance needs to be developed. Children need to be able to explore and figure out things on their own and to be spontaneous without being directed by an adult.
Every now and then I hear about someone who has vivid memories from when they were three or even two years old. That fascinates me, but I surely do not remember things from that far back. I do have some clear memories from when I was five years old. I am confident of the age because my older brothers and sisters were in school and I was not. In addition, my family moved when I was in first grade and I can identify the old farmhouse as the setting of my memories.
I had two younger brothers, 21 months and 5 1/2 years younger than me. My first lesson in faith revolved around the birth of the baby brother. My little brother and I told our mother that we wanted to have another sister or brother. Mom told us that if we prayed to God we might get one. Oh my, we prayed. And, voilà! We got a baby! And almost immediately! That sure convinced me of the power of prayer and of God.
Making My Home A Haven is important to me. Sharing homemaking skills. Recipes and food. Bible Studies. This is a treasure chest of goodies. So take a seat. Have a glass of tea and enjoy. You will learn all about who I am.