Monday, August 21, 2006

Another guest entry.

I received this little gem from my Aunt Muriel, my mom's sister. Give it a read, I'm sure you'll enjoy it!!

DAD (Frank Slayton)

I was only 18 when Dad died so I never really knew him well when I was an adult. There was always comfort in being close to him. He seemed to know everything and could do anything. When we lived in the country he always smelled of the outdoors and when we moved to town, his clothes smelled of fresh sawdust. I suppose because he worked at Heinz sawmill. Dad read a lot, like Mother, and all of us did. His favorite reading material was western magazines. They were cheap, pulp magazines and the stories soon began to sound alike but Dad liked them. They were western adventures and derring-do and many of them were also romances. Dad would be deep in some story and suddenly out would come his big red handkerchief and he would be blowing his nose and wiping his eyes. If you said anything about it he would just bluster and laugh and pretend he had something in his eye.

Most of my memories of Dad are little short snippets of things. Like my wanting to watch when the men butcher pigs in the fall. Dad would never let me watch and when I asked Mother, why not she said he never wanted us to see him kill the animals. If I asked Dad why, he would say, “Because I said no.” I knew better than to ask again. Besides, I could usually think up a reason to go outside by the time they were shaving the hair off the carcass and by then it just looked like meat you saw in the meat dept. of the grocery store. If nothing else the woodbox for the kitchen stove always needed filling. While the men were working outside Mother would be busy inside. As soon as the fat from the pig was brought to the house, Mother put it in her big pans and into the oven to render the fat. This was our shortening for most of the year. While the weather was cold it was easy enough to keep, but when the weather was warm it was a battle to keep it from melting or getting rancid. Besides helping take care of the meat Mother kept hot coffee on the stove for the men and sweets to go with it. Besides Dad there were usually were two or three other neighbors there to help and they were served dinner. The next day the pork that had been saved for sausage was put through the meat grinder and Dad spiced it, fried a sample and tasted it. I usually managed to get a “taste”. Then the sausage was put through a machine that forced the sausage into “casings” (intestines were saved, washed out and used for casings).

We lived about 11 miles out in the country and for a few years we were the last ones on the road. At that time our nearest neighbors were the Rubys and and Kersnovics, about a half mile away. Dad and Mother would occasionally go to Rubys in the evening to play cards. The time I remember I must have been about 6 years old. Dad had attached some kind of wooden box to the sled and my younger brother and I were put in there with a warm quilt. Then he and Mother took the lantern and walked over to Ruby’s for the evening. On the way home it was cold and dark and you could hear the snow crunching under the sled runners and the coyotes howling off in the distance.

Some of the things I remember about Dad are like pictures in my mind. One is a picture of him cutting hay with a scythe. He is wearing a hat and a blue chambray shirt with old-fashioned bib overalls. The sun is beating down on his shoulders and his shirtsleeves are rolled up to his elbows. There is so much rhythm and grace as he swings that scythe around his feet while he walks. The picture moves in that same hayfield to Dad with a pitchfork in his hands turning hay over so it will dry and another of the horses pulling the haywagon and Dad pitching the hay up to the load. It was great fun if us kids were allowed to climb up on the load and tramp the hay down so they could get more on the load. The ride to the barn was so exciting. I can still see Dad sitting on a one-legged milking stool with his head up against a cow’s flank milking and squirting milk over at one of the cats that were waiting around for a drink or holding a bucket of milk and dipping his fingers in for a calf to suck and pushing its mouth down into the milk to teach it to drink. I guess you can tell I was outside and all over the farm.

Eugene, If this sounds fragmented and odd it’s because that’s the way memories sometimes come. Love, Muriel


At 7:13 AM, August 22, 2006, Blogger otterwoman said...

wow, I can just "see/imagine" every word you wrote... it sounds just like the stories that my grandmother would tell me..same time frame... a hard life, but a good way to raise kids, hard work and a lot of love. Thank you for sharing this "moment in time" Muriel. It is wonderful.
I would love it if everyone would/could take a moment and write about a treasured memory.... so others could share in their magic moments. This certainly would be a grand place to do that.
thank again Muriel, I loved your memory.

At 8:00 PM, August 22, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the memories, Muriel. I was not at home as long as you and forgot some of these things. Good work.

At 12:33 PM, August 24, 2006, Blogger Yram said...

Auntie M! Thank you! What wonderful images. I especially liked the sled ride on a cold winter night. I bet you all smelled really good when you got home! Thanks and write more! I love you...Mary

At 3:31 PM, August 24, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, all of you. I get embarrased when I read something I have written so your accolades are very much appreciated. LOL,


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