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When I Was Young....

Oh, was I writing something? Ahh. Oh, yes, now I remember. When I was young……. the world seemed to be a much kinder place. We slept with our doors unlocked. Not much need for locks when you could see through the cracks between the boards of the house walls. Living in a three-room share-croppers shanty with seven brothers and sisters and Mom and Dad were some of the memories of my life as a youngster. Cold wind seeping through the cracks; making us shiver in a bed with too little cover---I should remember the misery of that; but I don’t.

I remember the happiness of a warm body on each side of me. I remember snuggling down under the covers and giggling at my sisters as we vied for the warmest spot in the bed. If we were too cold, I don’t remember it. If we couldn’t sleep, I don’t remember it. I remember going to sleep quickly and sleeping soundly because I was too tired from a days’ work in the cotton fields to feel the cold or discomfort that may have been there.

Yes, there was cotton still in the fields when the weather turned to cold rain that left frozen puddles between the cotton rows. You couldn’t wear full gloves---the fingers had to be cut off the gloves so that you could more quickly pull the soft fluffy boles from their hard, sharp resting place. Freezing fingers, cold and damp, so bitter that it made the skin on your fingers crack and bleed. Early winter is the worst time to have to pick cotton. The cotton is scarce because this is what is called the ‘third pickin’ or the time of pulling boles---when you don’t bother to pick the cotton from its container; you’re allowed to pull the bole and all.

I don’t remember the pain of chapped and broken skin; I remember the wonderful feeling of warming my hands by holding them as close as I dared to the glaring red side of the wood burning stove that sat close to the wall in the living room. Or helping Mom cook supper in a kitchen warmed by the wood cook stove. I remember the food we had because we had pulled boles all week and could afford to buy flour and beans and butter and eggs, and sometimes, if we had a good week, milk.

Hot biscuits and brown beans. Ummm. I can smell and taste them now. So very good. I remember them. I remember my younger brother who loved brown beans so. He came in one day when we had no beans. His first words as he frowned at my mother: “What! No Beans!!!” My mother was a wonderful cook. But I was told that my father had to teach her. She was thirteen and he thirty two when they married. Two beautiful people raising eight routy kids. No small feat in the thirties and forties.

There were many good times and some sad. The loss of a younger sibling still brings tears to my eyes. She was only nine. Hit by a car. An accident. I remember her red hair and her laughter. I remember how she would never wear jeans like the rest of the girls in the family. She wore only dresses and always loved to look pretty. And she was. I was very young when she died. I think I didn’t really understand death. So my pain was seeing the pain of my parents’ suffering. The first time I ever saw my father cry. Too much to bear. I hid my face so no one could see my own tears.

Time heals all wounds---someone said that, I think. But after all these years the memory brings back the tears. But there were good times, happy times after the grief ebbed away.

Life goes on. School occupied my mind over the years. I wasn’t a particularly intellectual person and had to work very hard to earn those passing grades. Math. How I hated mathematics! I could never comprehend the logistics. My love was literature. Books. I could spend hours reading and reading. I would have three or four novels going at the same time. Pearl S. Buck was my favorite author. Historical novels my favorite fare. For I had rather read than eat.

Then I found that I could write short stories that made the other children in my class laugh.  I wasn’t a pretty and popular girl. But I found the one thing that I could do well—write. So I spent my elementary through high school years writing funny stories to make the other kids laugh. And that made me happy. I wrote for the school newspaper and although that still didn’t make me the most popular kid in class, I did earn a creative writing award and graduated as Most Talented. As my memory grows shorter, I hope to never forget my love for literature.

 
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About the Author

Sandra E. Graham

Born in Walnut Ridge, Arkansas, Sandra graduated from Egypt High School in Egypt, Arkansas in 1965. Continuing her education by attending Eastfield College in Mesquite, Texas; Crowley’s Ridge Community College; Mississippi Community College; and finally back home to Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, Arkansas. She currently lives in Jonesboro with her husband, Donnie and a wealth of Grandchildren! Visit her website at www.wix.com/grahase/sandragrahamarticlesandbooks to see her newest publications. Sandra's books Amos Jakey and Nicolina are historical adventure books published by American Book publishing and may be purchased through pdbookstore.com, Amazon, Books in Print, Barnes and Noble, and Baker & Taylor. She also writes free book reviews for authors through Book Pleasures.
 
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