Growing up I never realized how lazy my mother was. My sister and I did all of the house cleaning and most of the cooking. I remember using a stool to be able to reach the clothesline. When we were younger, we had one of those wringer washers and I remember having a problem with that one. I was probably about 9 before we got an electric one.
My Dad had to do all the grocery shopping. He and I would go on Friday evening to the Lucky Store, carefully picking up everything that was on the list. I used to look around and wonder why there weren’t more men shopping. My Dad stood out like a sore thumb, pushing the cart and filling it with our next weeks bounty. I didn’t really mind it because I was away from my mother and sister, and I got to spend time alone with my Dad. We would get home, cart in all the paper bags of food, then he and I would put it away.
When we moved to Missouri, when I was 12-years-old. The tradition continued for about the first 2 months. The stores were different, the food was different, and the shopping experience was very different. We are talking about 1967, and Missouri was way more traditional than Arizona ever was. Women were actually rude to us when we would go to the grocery store. I could see my Dad’s face turn red from embarrassment when some woman would make a disparaging comment. Of course, it made me mad, even though I didn’t understand why they said the things they did. We moved from the small town (about 800 people) we originally moved to and my parents bought a house in Independence. I only remember going shopping there once.
Later that week, walking down the hill to the house, I saw a large delivery truck in the driveway of the house. I got there in time to see two men with a large dolly taking, what I thought was a very large refrigerator inside. I knew better than to ask my mother any questions, so I waited until my Dad got home from work. He explained that it was a large capacity freezer and that we were buying a half a cow and a pig to put in it. You can probably guess….I was so confused. What in the world was he talking about?
It was about this time when my mothers mental illness became very evident. We always knew things weren’t right, but now we couldn’t deny it anymore. She went crazy, tearing up the house, screaming to the top of her lungs. She stated that there was no way she would eat meat that was delivered, then she ran to the kitchen and tried to push the freezer over. Thankfully she wasn’t strong enough to move it. She then did what she always did and locked herself in the bedroom. I just ran to my room and hid.
The next day, which was Saturday, my mother never came out of her room. My Dad asked me to come out in the yard, and we started planting a vegetable garden. He told me it was easy to grow things here because it rained a lot, we were no longer in the desert. I was fascinated. I couldn’t wait to watch it all grow and to eventually eat it! That afternoon another large truck arrived and two men carted in package after package of wrapped meat. That’s when I finally asked, “Where is the half cow and pig?” I thought my Dad and the two delivery men were going to die from laughter. After they left my Dad explained that you can buy the meat from the farm, and they package it for you. So, all those butcher paper squares contained the cow and pig.
By the end of the summer we had raised all of the vegetables we needed and my Aunt came over and showed me how to can them for future use. We had 4 peach trees in the yard, and she and I picked as much fruit as we could, and we canned those also. It was amazing to me. The best part of this whole experience was, for the next two years, Dad and I didn’t have to make a weekly grocery run. We just had to go pick up a few items that we couldn’t raise or pull out of the freezer. I can still remember how good the food tasted and how much fun I had gardening and canning.
I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.