Monday, March 24, 2014

WHAT'S FOR DINNER MAMA


Do you sometimes think the wheels are coming off our lovely planet as you watch the evening news??  There are times I think that I am just glad I am old and am really glad I am not of child bearing age. I am concerned about my younger family members.  Yes it is scary. However----it has been much worse yet we gotten through and have prospered. 

 When one learns of the Great Depression (before I was born) and the horrors of WWII (I was a wee child)--- what we are facing now is not all that bad. The difference is that they pulled together while we fight among ourselves as well as with everyone else. 

I had been recently reminded of a favorite story on a fine post by Stephen at The Chubby Chatterbox. While Stephan and his wife were touring Cambodia, they learned that a snake in the house is not always a bad thing. It's all in how you look at it. His story reminded me how lucky we really are. 

The following story told to me by a friend's mother I often use as a yardstick for what bad times really are.  

 
Mrs. C was a young child living in rural Florida and Thanksgiving was coming. She and her siblings  were getting excited for they remembered what previous Thanksgivings had meant and the wonderful meals they enjoyed. It had been a long time since they had enjoyed anything but the most meager of meals. Their father was on the road trying to find work and the mother did washing and ironing to pay the rent.  

The afternoon before the big day the kids gathered around their mom as she was hanging clothes on the line.

"Mama, what are we going to have to eat for Thanksgiving?" They excitedly asked.

"I will pulled some Poke Weed, wild onion and Dandelion for salad and we will have vinegar and sugar for dressing. " She said trying to smile. The sugar was an added treat. 

"Is that all." The kids asked fearfully for that is what they ate most nights. 

"I traded for some cornmeal and will make some johnnycake.  I know you love that." She added.

"But Mama, aren't we going to have any meat?" they begged. 

 She took a long breath and was about to speak but then she looked up and saw a large turtle inching down the long driveway. 

"And here comes the meat." She said delightedly. 

 Sure things are much better these days and remembering that story plus the horrors, losses and uncertainties of WWII fought on two fronts reminds me how far we have come and how grit got us past situations much worse than today's.

When ever I get down about world events, I think of that last  5 word sentence and smile as  the past comes to mind and I remember the Greatest Generation. They set the bar high but not too high to be reached. 

Now if we could all learn to pull together like they did instead of scattering like self centered  cockroaches in all directions, we will make it. I have no doubt.

Any stories handed down in your life that get you though tough times???


29 comments :

  1. My parents did not relish their depression years. My mother hated having an elderly aunt live in their home. She was determined from her experiences of poverty and "pulling together" that we would never have to do the same. She and my father made arrangements to live in a retirement home so they would never require any of us to be their caregivers. They helped all of us financially if the need arose so that we would not know the same sacrifices they knew. And thus the spoiled monsters "greed" and "handout" were born out of love.

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  2. What a lesson in pulling together! And yes, it has been much worse in the history of the world and we always make it through. Very important point.

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  3. I often feel the same when I'm reading the news these days. I love your story and will have to think about whether we had any stories to get us through hard times. Part of our problem today is the massive numbers of us. When we were young, Patti, there were several billion humans alive today not born yet, not causing so much pollution and competition for survival.

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  4. As tough as times are (according to what I read) 98% of everyone on the planet today has a higher standard of living than 99% of every human who has ever lived, and that includes Kings, Queens, and Pharos.

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  5. I don't watch the evening news very often as I now find it all too discouraging. And the fact that we don't pull together as a country in facing danger make things all the worse. This is a sad admission from one who always urged his students to "watch the news" to be informed of world events. Sad indeed...:(

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  6. Love the "here comes the meat" tale. Our "depression" days lasted into the mid 1940's; I remember that a lot of our family meals were corn meal mush in a variety of forms, along with a lot of pinto beans. We didn't have meat on the table on a regular basis until we moved to our Arkansas farm and raised hogs, cattle and chickens.

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  7. Ms. Patti, that is a fabulous story. Even as a turtle lover, I can appreciate the phrase "here comes the meat".
    When Shelley was very small, we lived on a tight income. We pinched pennys all the time. Joe went by the grocery store on his way home with our last bit of money to buy milk. Coming out of the store he tripped and broke the milk bottle and was very upset that he has spent our last money for food and it was 6 days until payday. He got himself upright and walked back into the store to let them know of the mess but not of his unfortunate circumstance. The store manager thanked him for letting them know what had happened and told Joe to go and get another gallon of milk. Joe said no that it was his clumsiness that had caused the accident, but the store manager insisted that he do so. When Joe got home with the milk and his story, we both cried a little. It's at times like that that you realize that goodness is right there, you just have to be forward looking to see it. When we are running low on funds, Joe will always say, "yeah but we still have milk".

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  8. It is interesting that stories have such power, I think. My sister and I were just talking about the succession of relatives my parents took in and cared for--my paternal grandmother, my mother's uncle, my aunt. I sometimes have to stop and marvel at their generosity of spirit.

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  9. My stories are not handed down but I lived them. I think anything we had/did was easier than what is coming for us. Now, with all our living necessities depending on being on the grid and no one knows how to survive without it, a sudden power outtage would put everything into chaos. I can't even let myself think of it.

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  10. It was bad in the past, bad now, and sadly I think it will be bad in the future.

    I don't watch the news but I do read a newspaper every day, and it's totally depressing, I agree. But somehow good triumphs over evil and the world gets through and prospers.

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  11. Thanks for the shout out. We definitely have much to be grateful for. Take care.

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  12. Love the "here comes the meat"! I remember my dad telling a story about his parents during "hard times". At breakfast one day, my grandfather told his wife that he didn't know what they were going to do because he didn't have the money to pay his taxes. He said his mother never said a word, just got up from the table and went into another room. When she came back, she handed his dad a big wad of bills. Enough to pay the taxes. To make extra money, she had been selling eggs and butter to the little market in their small rural community and had saved every dollar she made.

    As for the news, I don't watch it anymore. I read just enough to keep up. I can't stand to see what is happening to our country. And the people that are reporting the news are just as guilty as the politicians in making the mess we are in now. That's JMHO.

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  13. To me it's like the weather. We think sometimes that life was so much simpler back then, but if you study history (and especially as it relates to genealogy and family history) you see time and again- the bad, the bad, the bad. Are things better now? I think it's all relative. I can't watch the news for all the bubble heads that are too busy spouting their political views instead of the real news. Acckk- don't get me started! HA HA

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  14. Dear Arkansas Patti, your sentence--"The difference is that they pulled together while we fight among ourselves as well as with everyone else"--pretty well sums up the difference between the past and the present in our country. It seems to me that many of us have forgotten that we are our brother's keeper.

    As to memories that get me thought. Mostly I just have to think about my mom and her way of making everything possible and I'm content. Peace.

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  15. I completely agree with Dee about everything, including mom. I would only add that I somehow expected us to have come further, not just in this country, but in Sweden, and in many other places where we seem to be sliding backwards instead of progressing.

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  16. Grannie Annie,
    You nailed it. Everyone wants their kids to have it better than they did and as a result, out of love, we are slowly breeding character out of our children.

    Keith,
    I hope we learn to pull together but perhaps it will take a common foe.

    Djan,
    I know. Over population scares me. We will eventually use up the resources needed to sustain our species.

    joeh,
    And yet, the moaning continues. Go figure.

    TB,
    I too tend to gloss over the news. I try to hear what I can be aware in a voting booth, but much is overwhelming.

    Pat,
    I think I got into the rations days for I remember craving whole milk and butter. We drank canned milk with sugar. Purely nasty.

    Linda W,
    I truly LOVE that story and how it still stays in your life as a yardstick.
    Ha,ha I kind of worried about this post knowing your love of turtles.

    Olga,
    Bless them, not everyone does that these days.
    I know my Dad cared for 2 mothers-in-law, his mother, and a niece in his life time. Long distances have put that out of most peoples lives today.

    Manzi,
    Not a fun thing to think about. I've been with out power for 10 days. It was doable but really hard.

    Stephen,
    Yes and your post today spells that out even further.

    Cheryl,
    That is a perfect example of people having each other's backs. Families today often live so far apart that comfort is lost.

    Terri,
    Hey, sometimes just turning off the news is a good thing. Sure is easier on the blood pressure.

    Dee,
    Not caring about our "brothers" is so sad and seems to be growing. People do seem to resent those who could use our help. Fortunately there are still a lot of us who do care. Guess we need to be more vocal.

    Inger,
    I agree we should have progressed more and that is what alarms me the most. People are cocooning and caring only about themselves. We have gone from the Greatest Generation to the Me Generation. Sigh.

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  17. My mom and her family lived through the depression. Her parents were immigrants from Russia and Poland. Her father was a barber. They had very little, and sometimes my mom and her older sister (at their tender ages of 5 and 7) would go to the railroad tracks to collect coal that had fallen off the cars. That was how they helped to keep their apartment warm. When I think of their efforts and resilience, I am humbled.

    I also think that today we are facing things beyond even the scope of war. What we have done to the planet and continue to do may be irreversible. That scares me more than anything else.

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  18. I know times were very tough for my mother's family especially, but she never said much about it. My father told me that when he was younger during the depression, they would go out east of town and hunt rabbits for meat. They had a milk cow which he and his brother had to walk to and from pasture before and after school. This is interesting because they lived in town and walked a good distance to the place where my grandfather had some sort of arrangement to use the pasture.

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  19. I try to keep in mind the times my parents went through - the Depression - and when my mom's house burned down. I have never had deprivation like that - never been really hungry without something to eat - never been without shelter. Pondering the great numbers of people who have that daily now is very depressing. I, too, worry about my grandchildren and their children to come.

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  20. Oh my goodness. Just last night I was talking to a vegetarian friend of mine. She was not always a vegetarian. Anyway, she said as a teenager a snapping turtle attacked her forefinger and would not let go. She howled in pain. Her father howled in laughter. For years afterwards anytime she saw turtle soup on the menu she ordered it with the mean turtle in mind.

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  21. That's a great story....Though, in all honesty, I felt bad for the Turtle. Poor unsuspecting Turtle becomes dinner! But, desperate times call for desperate measures! There are so many Millions of people who are starving all over the world, but right here in our own country, too...
    I fear for the future of the Human Race....we are in BIG trouble....and 'working together' seems a thing of the past, sad to say.

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  22. robin,
    Totally agree with what we are doing to this beautiful planet. Those who think she will handle unending abuse are so clueless.

    Sally,
    It is amazing how people hunkered down and made due. Now days they collect unemployment checks where our ancestors had to do it themselves.

    Judy,
    That is my main concern also. The future looks a bit grim for the youngsters, work wise, environmentally and emotionally. Hope we don't screw it up too badly.

    Sue,
    Ha ha, revenge might not have been sweet but I am sure it was tasty.
    Snapping turtles hang on like pit bulls.

    Naomi,
    I know, when I first heard the story I thought the same thing mainly because today, we see our meat in styrofoam containers. We never have to look something in the eye and "do the deed." Thank goodness.

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  23. Hi there, We are back from ANOTHER trip. This time we were in Georgia checking out yet another waterfall... Check my blog today when you get a chance.

    YES---times are BAD, and it makes me very very sad. BUT--there were times BEFORE MEDIA when people were dirt-poor --and nobody knew it... These days, we hear about it all. Good or bad??? I'm not sure --but the USA is really in terrible shape now. Scary!

    Have a great weekend.
    Hugs,
    Betsy

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  24. My dad sometimes tells stories of his youth that are hard for those raised in the affluence of today's world to comprehend... it is all relative. Common sense seems to have left the left.

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  25. Great post sweet Patti. I don't watch much news or read the newspaper because of all the bad and sad that is reported. The story that keeps me knowing how much better things are today than they were is my own story. I have been very hungry and homeless so remembering the past is enough for me to know I have a huge amount of things to be thankful for. Hugs for you and nose kisses for sweet Minnie from me and my crew!

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  26. There's certainly a lot of bad stuff on the news but it seems that all these new technical gadgets make it easy to record wonderful & uplifting things that happen almost daily and once they get on the web it escalates. Then the news shows feature some of them and that takes the sting out of all the bad news.

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  27. What a wonderful story! You are so right about the country… the world. No working together unless you're in the same party and the same religion.

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  28. Betsy,
    You and George really know how to work this retirement thing. Keep on traveling and taking us along.

    Brighid,
    It was another time with a set of problems today's kids have no conception of. Common sense would be refreshing wouldn't it?

    Maggie,
    I too have been hungry and was briefly homeless so everything I do have is so appreciated. Sometimes it is helpful to know the other side.

    Ginnie,
    I also enjoy the lighter side of the news that some of the stations are showing. It does take the sting out a bit.

    Marylee,
    Isn't that the truth. It is either my way or the highway and any contrary opinion is suspect. So sad.

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  29. I had some lean times like that when my kids were young, but it taught me to be resourceful and it taught me how to grow a garden, something that has given me joy ever since!

    lovely story...

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