Generations {A Farm Girl Essay}

Hey, guys! I’m going to do something a little different today. I had to do an interview for school, so I interviewed my mom and my grandmother who were both farm girls growing up. I wanted to compare their growing up years to mine, and show the changes and similarities of their world versus ours.  And, as you have probably guessed, I decided to post my essay on here too – but in a much revised and shortened form (it was 7 pages long originally XD ).

Note: Italic notes in the answers were added for you guys – they weren’t originally in my essay. 😉

I hope you enjoy it!

*****

Gram:

  1. What did you do for fun?

Gram and her siblings loved playing in the creek, but unfortunately the “bloodsuckers” (leeches) loved it when they played there too. “After we played we’d check our toes, ‘cause usually between our toes there were leeches, so we’d pull them off and put them on the grass to die.” Gram said they didn’t think about it too much at the time, but looking back it seems pretty gross. Blech! It sure does! I haven’t encountered leeches very often, but the few times I have were not very pleasant. 😛

Isn’t this so cute? Poor little barn kittens. XD “We’d get our doll clothes out and find the bonnets and the dresses,” and then “[We’d] dress up our kittens and take them out in our little doll carriages and ride them around. Talk about a lot of fun!”

  1. What are a few of your school memories?

“We had to walk down the blacktop to the bus stop, and while we were waiting, we’d pick up beer cans. If you stomped on them, they’d stick on your shoes.” Back then, Gram says, the fad was for kids to put little gadgets called “heel taps” on the bottoms of their shoes which made clinking, tapping sounds when they walked. The popular kids and the rich kids had those heel taps, but Gram and her siblings didn’t. But that didn’t stop them – who needed heel taps when you could make your own from old beer cans?

  1. What was the technology like? What toys, clothes, etc. were popular?

Growing up, Gram’s family had just one phone, a rotary phone, and it was right beside their Dad’s chair. When they answered the phone, their Dad was sitting right there, and he could hear every word they said. So when Gram and her siblings got boyfriends and girlfriends, they finally convinced him to get a longer cord for the phone so they could step into the bedroom for a little privacy! Yikes! Isn’t that funny? XD

Their family didn’t have a TV. TVs had been invented, but they weren’t very common – mostly just rich people had them. They did have a big radio, though, and they listened to a few programs on it (the ones their Dad approved of).

Their stockings reached all the way up to their waists, like tights, and had suspenders to keep them up. They also wore girdles, which were like corsets, and made their waists slimmer. Ugh, that must have been so uncomfortable. One woman told Gram that she could always tell when someone wasn’t wearing her girdle! Dear, dear! XD I thought that was pretty funny. XD

Instead of getting spices at the grocery store, a McNess man named Mr. Rogers would come round to their door. “He was… this little old man. He always had his cap and he had a big ol’ hump on his back. He would open [his car] from the back and he had these boxes of spices and detergent and cleaners.” Mr. Rogers came around to their house about every month to see if they needed anything, and Gram’s mom was always ready with a list. I thought that part was really neat. It sounds like old times, doesn’t it?

  1. What were Sundays like?

They always went to church on both Sunday mornings and Sunday evenings, and in between they had to do the farm chores and milk the cows. But they still found time for occasional picnics in the pasture. “That was something that was really special,” Gram remembers. They’d plan the picnic before church, so that when they got home they could fill up their picnic basket with food and head right down the hill.

For non-picnic Sunday lunches they always had chicken with broth, crackers, milk, and pie for dessert. Gram’s mom made all kinds of delicious pies – apple, cherry, pumpkin, lemon, and Gram’s favorite: blueberry or peach pie. In the evening that had a light supper or snack of grape juice and popcorn because they had to eat early before they went out to milk the cows again.

  1. What chores did you do?

When Gram and her brother got up in the morning, they went out to the barn to clean out the manger and scrape out the manure. In the evenings they fed the calves and taught them to drink out of a bucket instead of a bottle. They had to milk the cows, too. They had a stanchion barn that could hold 40 milk cows lined up side by side – but sometimes they were packed so tightly that they squashed you between them when you were milking them.

On Saturdays they cleaned the house and baked. The girls made cookies or cakes, and Gram’s mom usually made the pies. But when it came time for Gram to learn the art of pie-making, somehow they just didn’t turn out quite the same. Her brother could always tell when Gram had made the pies.

“Well I know Mom didn’t make these pies,” he grumbled, “they must be yours!” Heh heh. That was one of my favorite parts of this interview. XD The way she said it was just so funny!

They helped in the garden, too – weeding, picking, and harvesting the vegetables. They canned peaches, applesauce, and grape juice, as well as all kinds of pickles: several varieties of cucumber pickles, and watermelon rind pickles and mixed pickles – a pickled mixture of all the leftover produce such as old corn or old beans. They really liked mixed pickles. I tasted mixed pickles once. They were okay, but I don’t know if I would say I like them or not… And you don’t hear of watermelon rind pickles every day, now do you?

“You didn’t buy that stuff at the grocery store,” Gram explains, “you either canned it or you didn’t have it.” Well that’s certainly changed.

  1. What do you miss about your childhood?

When Gram was little, she loved to work out in the fields with her dad and drive tractors for him. She said she could hardly remember learning how to drive a tractor – she just knew for a long time. But after she got married she didn’t drive them as much. “The tractors got complicated and so then I kinda quit driving tractors.” She says she misses the old, easy to drive tractors.

  1. What don’t you miss about your childhood?

Milking, cleaning the barn, and ironing. Ironing was quite a process: her mom would take a little pop bottle that had a cork with holes punched in it, and she’d lay the clothes out flat, and sprinkle them. Then she would roll them up and put them in a bag to soak. Gram said they would have to be careful not to leave the clothes soaking too long or they’d get moldy. Yikes! O.o

  1. What traditions did you have?

Every summer Gram’s family would get together with their friends and make a whole bunch of potato chips and doughnuts. Another fun tradition was an Easter one of dying eggs and hiding them. After they had found them all, they ate the eggs.

  1. What did you do for celebrations or for special?

Gram always looked forward to Fridays, because her Dad often gave them a little bit of money to buy a treat with. “He would be down at the milk house when we passed by on our way to the school bus, and he’d say, ‘Well do you need a dime today?’ And we’d always say, ‘Sure!’” For a nickel they could buy an Imp or a dreamiscle, and for a dime they could buy a drumstick or an ice cream bar. Usually Gram bought two different treats for a nickel each instead of spending her whole dime on one thing. Whoa, ice cream for a nickel?

  1. What are your favorite memories from childhood?

Gram loved the picnics in the pasture, and she loved playing in the creek, despite the bloodsuckers. And she always looked forward to making potato chips and doughnuts with her friends every summer.

Mom:

  1. What did you do for fun?

“I mostly liked to play outside in the barn with kittens, or watch the cows,” Mom says. She loved the outdoors and she loved to run barefoot through the fields. She also loved to play in their creek – where fortunately there were no leeches!

  1. What are a few of your school memories?

Mom always packed the same lunch in her little tin Strawberry Shortcake lunchbox: a sandwich, chips, fruit, and cookies, with a Thermos of water. Always.

  1. What was the technology like? What clothes, toys, etc. were popular?

Their radio was “this big piece of furniture, a big wooden chest” she says, much larger than our modest radios today. “We would lay on the floor and listen to the radio since we didn’t have a TV,” she remembers.

Mom had a doll called a Real Baby that was supposed to be the same weight and height as a newborn. “I was so proud of that.”

“And did it look like a newborn?” I asked her.

“No, it didn’t look like a newborn at all!” Ha ha! XD

  1. What were Sundays like?

“We didn’t shop on Sundays, and we only did the necessary farm chores.” They always went to church every Sunday morning and usually every evening too. Sometimes they stayed at home for Sunday lunch (only they called it “dinner” instead of “lunch”), and sometimes they ate at a friend’s house.

Mom’s Sunday evening supper sounds remarkably like Gram’s: “sandwiches, popcorn, and a jar of home-canned grape juice.”

  1. What chores did you do?

Mom and her sisters had to feed the calves and of course clean the house on Saturdays. “Then when we got a little older – ‘bout twelve or thirteen – we had to milk the cows.” They also helped out in the garden.

  1. What do you miss about your childhood?

“I miss the small farm and the cows in the pasture. We would just sit and watch the cows and it was just so peaceful – more idyllic instead of commercialized like it is now.” Mom and her youngest sister would sit up on the haybale feeder and let the cows come up and eat around them. They got to know the cows’ personalities, and even named a few of them. I really liked Mom’s description of that.

  1. What don’t you miss?

“I don’t miss getting stickers in my feet from running barefoot through the fields. I’d do that a lot,” she says with a laugh. “I’d dig out splinters from my feet all summer.”

  1. What did you do for a celebration or for special?

“On Wednesday night Dad promised that if we were good at church we would go to High’s afterwards and get a hand dipped ice cream cone – and we could pick our flavor! That was fun.”

  1. What were some of your traditions?

The main tradition was each of the kids choosing their own birthday supper, but they had some smaller traditions too. A daily tradition was to sing a prayer or hymn before their meals instead of praying. It felt strange to say a prayer before a meal instead of singing it. We still usually sing a prayer or pretty hymn when we go to Grandma and Grandpa’s house for a meal.

  1. What are your favorite memories from childhood?

“Wading in the creek, finding kittens in the barn…” Sometimes, they would take a picnic back to the field and eat their lunch on a blanket. Other days, “Dad would say, ‘Let’s go to the lake today,’ so we would leave after breakfast and stay there until we had to be back for milking – about 3 or 4 o-clock.”

Snow days were sure to be fun as well: “If we stayed home from school on a snow day we would almost always make doughnuts.” Yummy! I’ve made doughnuts a few times, and it’s a lot of fun.

*****

Wow, isn’t it amazing what has changed? You certainly can’t get an ice cream cone for a nickel anymore, and you certainly can buy pickles and such at the store – and pretty much anything else. Radios are much smaller, TVs are an electronic staple in most homes, and the fads have changed from heel taps to iPhones and coolest brands of clothing.

But then again, a lot of things will never change: the pleasure of summer picnics, the freedom of running barefoot over the grass, the cuteness of little kittens, and the fun of wading in a (hopefully leech-free) creek.

I hope you enjoyed that essay, even though it was still pretty long. What was your favorite part? Thanks for reading! ♥

***Allison***

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42 thoughts on “Generations {A Farm Girl Essay}

  1. Whoa. This is SO amazing!! It’s so cool reading about the lives of farm girls in different generations! 😮 😀
    My grandma was a city girl. She told us that one time, a cow wandered up into her yard, and she turned around and was face to face with it. She screamed and screamed until someone came to chase it away! XD

    -Clara ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Love your family’s recollections; they reminded me so much of stories my mom and grandmother have told, too ( although we’re all much older than you!). It’s calming just to be reminded that life has so many simple pleasures if we just slow down to appreciate them.

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    1. Aww, yayayayay! Thank you so much, Grace! It makes me happy that you liked it. 🙂 I know, it reminded me of Little House books too! Especially the part about wading in creeks with leeches – didn’t Laura take Nellie to a creek with leeches? Or was that just the crab… Anyway, yeah! On the one hand it’s great how quickly technology has improved and things, but it’s also kinda sad how fast things have changed…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. *Contended sigh* That was very enjoyable to read! It is so interesting and special learning about the different times that our parents and grandparents lived in! I’m thankful for memories, because it seems we so often forget how wonderful things really are while we’re living them, and then they are past. So at least we have the joy of remembering, and can try to learn not to take things for granted. 🙂
    ~Gracie

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  4. I really enjoyed reading about your mom and grandma! It made me think of my great-grandmother, who also grew up on a farm; she lived in New York. In fact, I just self-published a book about her when she was a girl! And, (what a coincidence!) I’m having a blog tour! If you’re interested, here’s the link to the book, https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33230368-the-new-diary
    and here’s a link to sign up for the blog tour: https://kellynroth.typeform.com/to/cMmxAu
    It starts February 1st, so I understand if it’s too rushed for you. I’d appreciate it if you checked it out, though. 🙂

    Again, I just loved learning about your mom and grandma’s childhood!! 🙂

    CutePolarBear

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  5. This was so interesting and cool! A lot of the stuff you mentioned was the same things my mom and Grandma did! So cool!

    I loved hearing all about their lives, it was so interesting and so different! I wish ice cream was still so cheap!

    Like

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