MAE BABER R.D.2, Brandon, Wisconsin
Life has a way of being full of surprises, both good and otherwise, but becoming a grandmother without a moment's warning almost knocked me off my substantial two feet. Being a bit on the trusting side I could hardly believe this could happen to us.
Little Cindy Lou's arrival came via a pink and blue card delivered to our rural mailbox. Our westerners had kept it an absolute secret and I can't tell you how overwhelmed we were. It started a chain of reminiscence through which the years rolled away to childhood and all its golden experiences. There were Fourth of July celebrations with the whole family packed into the surrey with the fringe on top, and an uncle, unmarried, who came on unforgettable visits. He came from Florida, New York or Michigan -- names which were magical in our small world.
On one of his trips he brought a talking machine, one of the first in our neighborhood. This was something remarkable indeed! It was held up to the telephone so the neighbors could hear this wonder through another wonder then also quite new. Then there were the binoculars through which we gazed in awe to spot houses clearly visible upon the ledge some 10 miles from our farm home. We still live on the same place. Perhaps it helps when one is remembering. It was in this spot, in a different house that all five of us girls and our one adored brother grew happily into maturity. The glowing coal stove shed its cheerful warmth as we pulled on our black stockings over bulky long underwear. The isinglass windows were something to gaze at and dream into. The little blue flames inside the enclosure added their bit of color to our experience. 'Get dressed quickly? this from Mother as she mixed her pancake batter in the chilly kitchen where one's feet did well to warm up by the evening meal not to mention breakfast. We always had to be careful not to become too friendly with the shiny metal collar around the plump stove's middle section. That had a habit of becoming very warm on a cold morning and I can yet see the blueness of the metal caused by a little too much heat. The big jacketed stove in our country school was never an equal to it for cheery warmth, but how well I remember the games we played on warm spring days -- pick up sticks, red lion, skipping rope, and our great national sport -- baseball.
On Sunday the little country church was the important thing in our lives and there one day as I listened attentively to the Word of God I became a new creature. I did not realize what had happened but I knew all the world was changed for me. It was, as I recall, a summer day and the horses were safely stowed away in the long open sheds adjacent to all church buildings.
On a winter day our farmer men covered them carefully with blankets held by huge safety pins while we worshipped and sang praises to the accompaniment of an old parlor organ.
Then came the first date -- fifteen I was -- with the neighbor boy a mile down the road, the neighbor boy whose name I took as my own seven years later. There were innumerable May Baskets hung, wiener roasts, pancake and sausage fries, steak fried on hot stones taken from the fire, and young people's parties. What fun!
There were other boys but really only one. At last the day arrived and we were married. Then came the first little home with only eight windows in the whole house and big slinky rats in the cellar. There was only one way to get into that cellar and that was a ladder. The rats ate most of our first potato crop and the new bride would not set her foot in the place. Our honeymoon was always linked with the extermination of rats. It was either us or they and we were determined it would be us. One long-remembered night I awoke to find my young husband wildly waving his arms around in frenzy and he struck me right across the face with his arm. I began to yell for mercy. The poor man came to -- to murmur sweetly 'O honey, I'm sorry, I was killing rats.'
The next year Cindy Lou's father came to bless our home, followed through the years by five more healthy, happy children. We eventually moved into a house with twenty-five windows and five bedrooms. Now we have the extra blessing of a granddaughter. For a couple of months we longed for a glimpse of her but now we have them back where they lived when they were first married, right next door. She is the pet of the family, she is just special.
Somehow when one gets to remembering -- the unpleasant experiences have a way of fading into forgetfulness. The happy days seem to stand out clearly and for this we can be thankful. Sometimes we wonder, don't we, if our youngsters will have as many happy memories, and then they surprise us by going into gales of laughter about something that happened only a few short years ago. The prize one was when three of the older children tried to put the littlest one in a barrel and roll him down the attic steps. Yours truly came to the rescue of the little fellow and a good session of discipline followed. So it seems life is built and time marches on. Am sending a picture of little Cindy and her adoring grandmother. The next thing we know she'll be starting her little tricks and life will be even more interesting -- or hectic. I guess we get a share of both.