I loved growing up on a farm in rural Georgia in the 1950s and 60s. Most of my memories are of fun times exploring my world, the close-knit life of loving family and friends, and a happy life. Others are of hard work and strict discipline that taught me to be a productive member of society.
Hot weather always reminds me of our house without air conditioning. We had fans and open windows, and at night I often moved my fan to the foot of the bed, hung the sheet so the wind would blow under it and cool me off. Rain showers at night bring back memories of the sound of rain hitting our tin roof, lulling me to sleep. And the cooler air was welcome, even though it was muggy.
Daytime showers meant mud puddles to play in, from splashing through them on foot or bicycle, to floating any piece of wood that instantly became a sailboat.
There was nothing quite as refreshing as a cold watermelon, deliciously red, sweet and juicy. And we kept the rinds for watermelon rind preserves, placed on hot buttered toast or biscuits and gobbled down for breakfast or a snack during the day.
We had a big butcher knife we used to cut open the watermelon and slice it into half moon pieces just right for holding and eating, with juice running down my chin. The adults were more careful, cutting off bite size pieces with the same butcher knife or another kitchen knife.
I was finally allowed to use the butcher knife to cut and slice the watermelon, with careful instructions, when I was about eight. The knife was very sharp, and the wooden handle had no hand guard.
One day, after eating my slice of watermelon down to the white rind, for some reason I thought it would be a good idea to stab it. It sat on the wooden platform in the front yard under the shade of a huge pecan tree, our usual place to enjoy them.
When I held the knife in my right hand and stabbed straight down, the blade stopped but my hand did not. My palm slid all the way down it. I will never forget the pain, then looking at my open palm and seeing the cut meat standing open before the flood of blood.
Mama wrapped my hand in a towel and daddy rushed us to the emergency room. Lying on the table, with my right hand extended and mama on my left side, I felt the sting of the needle as the doctor numbed it. Then I felt nothing.
I kept trying to turn my head to watch as the doctor put eight stitches in, closing the cut, but mama kept my head turned toward hear, softly talking to me. Then she stopped talking and asked why I was staring into her eyes. It suddenly dawned on her I was watching the doctor work in the reflection in her glasses!
I can still see the light scar line across my palm and the tiny cross lines where the stitches closed it up over 60 years later.
Most summer experiences were a lot more fun. Damming Dearing Branch, building tree houses and huts in the woods, making rock forts, fishing in every bit of water from the branch on our property to nearby farm ponds to Clarks Hill on wonderful camping trips.
All those override the memories of gathering eggs from our 11,000 laying hens and the smell of the droppings on a hot summer day, standing for hours candling and grading them and then loading cases of them into the cooler or onto the truck for delivery.
My most hated job, washing down the pen where we fattened pigs for slaughter or sale, was one of my daily chores for years. The pen was a 40 by 80 foot shed, dived into two sides by a wood fence, with a sloping concrete floor. There were about 40 pigs on either side.
Each day I had to hook up the hose and wash all the raw pig manure down to the trough at the end of the floor where it drained into an open pond. The stench was almost unbearable, and I felt like I stunk all night from doing it, no matter how much I scrubbed in the shower.
I would not give up those memories, good and bad, for anything!