Friday, June 26, 2009

Indoor Plumbing

With indoor plumbing you didn’t have to use Sears, Montgomery Ward catalogs or even a corncob. The system was not made for all of this roughage.

So, we were treated with store bought tissue even if we were issued only two sheets per visit. The tissue companies didn’t roll it as thin in those days.

I didn’t complain because it was so good to have a nice warm throne in the winter and a nice white bathtub with running water and a drain whereby it eliminated carrying the water back outside.

MaMa June

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Thank You, Benjamin Franklin

We didn’t have indoor plumbing or even electricity. We had a two-hole mansion in the chicken lot manned with the old Sears and Montgomery Ward catalogs. In the winter, talk about cold – these catalogs were still pushing for a sale and their pages froze together.

We were one of the first families in the county to have indoor plumbing and electricity. The electric company was located in Danville and we lived about ¼ mile from State Road 36. It was not on their schedule to put electricity down our road, but Dad had the flair of persuasion and they soon agreed to put it on their schedule if he was going to pay for it to be run to our property line. The company was to run it up the lane to our house with no fee attached. To me, electricity is one of the most wonderful things after the wheel. We have it and take it for granted.

Just stand in the middle of your home when the power is off and you find yourself saying, “What can I do?” Then darkness falls and it’s worse. You have your candles or other makeshift emergencies. But, when you go outside, everything is black and you don’t know how far or when. Sooner or later, it’s returned then you think of those who are unable to tell the difference and say a quiet prayer.

MaMa June

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Dorothy June Lieske is born, June 7, 1929

I started out in this world the year of “The Great Depression” and I am still not sure when it ended and “The Great Society” began. My family was living on a farm about four miles west of Danville, Indiana which they purchased three years earlier after living in Indianapolis a number of years. Before I was born on that wonderful summer day, I had already been blessed with several siblings plus two after me. You know while I was growing up and being a middle child I would kind of analyze other families where there was an only child or where the baby of the family always seemed to me just a little extra special, a little extra this, and a little extra that and I just wondered how that might feel. Now on this day and year our great American country was in pretty bad shape. The banks were closed and no one could get their money, people were out of work, stock market down, not on our farm but they say things just were not good. No gloom of day was going to stop this baby. She was on her way! Dad went to the big telephone hanging on the wall and gave one big crank on it for the lady operator who manned the switchboard for our area. She in turn called the doctor who lived and practiced in Danville. (How long do they have to practice until they get it?) Now, Danville had a modern phone system owned by Ma Bell. Dad called a neighbor lady down the road who served as a mid-wife. Her telephone number was two and a short. That’s one long crank and a pause, another long crank and a pause, then a half crank. Also, the telephone rang into all the neighbor’s homes and this was a good way to catch up on things as they would listen in and it was faster than sending a letter that could take two days and three cents. No matter how discreet the neighbors tried to be, a clock would strike or someone would cough or sneeze. Then they would try to calm the kids who seemed to get deaf from the telephone rings.

After Dad got Dr. Grimes on his way, he then would try and make Mom more comfortable. Almost all the county roads were gravel and ours was no exception. These roads were narrow and one might stay one lane as you pulled over to the right only when you met someone and they did likewise. You had to slow down because the loose gravel would build up in the center of the road. I don’t remember ever a car following that was going to attempt to pass as everyone traveled about the same rate of speed and if you got too close to the car in front of you, the dust choked and blinded you. Everyone was real courteous and friendly because most everyone was a friend or neighbor. We had a very good county highway system that was located in Danville. They were very punctual and used a road grader that was manned by an operator with one grader blade that would sit at an angle beneath the operator. He would make one pass down the road and then came back on the other side which would smooth the road for about two weeks. Well, Dr. Grimes finally made it, but not until he had to open the farm gate, drove into the pasture, got out, closed the gate, drove about half way up the lane, drove through a creek where the water was as high as the running boards and then continued up the lane. He left his drooling car and walked to the house through the yard gate, up the sidewalk and onto the porch steps with his black doctor’s bag and his hat in hand. This was a ‘house call.’

I am sure my mother was thankful that the weather cooperated because if we had a big rainstorm the night before, it would have involved another delay for the doctor. A storm always created a creek too deep to drive across. You then would leave your car on one side and walked the rest of the way over a little wooden footbridge with a handrail on the side. This was fine unless it rained so much and the creek went out of its bank and the footbridge came loose from its stakes and washed downstream. But, this was a good day and I was a patient baby. In those days if a doctor could not be there for the delivery, the mother had to rely on a mid-wife, a member of the family or Dad. Boy was I lucky! Thanks Doc!

After I arrived and heard all the celebrating, applauding, hugging, kissing, laughing and crying, I realized someone was crying besides me. I noticed it was my sister. Our older brother did not want to pass up the opportunity to tease her about this wrinkle faced baby. He said, “She looks just like you, Sis.” Sis said, “No she doesn’t, she looks just like you.” I thought no one wanted to claim me. They batted this back and forth a few times until Dad stepped in and said she looks just like Uncle Tad two generations ago from the Old World. With this, my brother got quiet and sister stopped crying. Everyone was quiet except for me and I was crying even harder and shaking my fists. Dad picked me up and asked what’s wrong (everybody does this right?) Now this is the first time for an audible answer. I told Dad I did not want to be like Uncle Tad from that Old World. I just wanted to be me. Just me. Don’t you see just me? My Dad had a great big smile on his face and my mother smiled as did the rest of the family especially me. It was wonderful and felt wonderful to see all of the smiles and if we could go through life and share a smile or a little laughter each day how great that would be.

I don’t think Dr. Grimes went that extra mile on that June day for just the joy of filing another notch on the handle of his doctor’s black bag, but because he had a hand into bringing someone new into this world and just maybe she could feel extra special.

My Dad paid the good doctor $5.00 and gave him a cured ham. Doc was happiest receiving the ham. Since then I have had some nice people say, “That’s nice, but your Dad got short changed!”

Ma Ma June

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Dorothy June Lieske Helton

The anecdotes/stories that will be posted were written by my Mother, Dorothy June Lieske Helton. If Mother was still living, our family would have been celebrating her 80th birthday today. Mother known to many around our community as June or MaMa June was an unforgettable woman. I miss her every single day since her death on April 20, 2004. Her death left a huge hole in my heart which is still mending day by day. Every day I wish I could hear the telephone ring with Mother's beautiful voice on the other end telling me about her day, what she had to eat and checking on her chicks if the weather was bad. My brothers and I were truly blessed to have such wonderful loving parents. Our Dad worked hard to provide for us and Mother gave us unconditional love. It is through both of them that my brothers and I have been able to reach the top of our professional fields and have strength of character and love for others. Both of my parents had a hard childhood in that Dad's mother died when he was five and my grandfather did not feel that he could raise Dad and his sister so he asked his brother and his wife to raise them with their six children. Mother's mother died when she was nine years old, in fact she and her siblings found her dead at the bottom of the porch steps when they returned from school. My grandfather was loving and did the best he could with eight children and gave my Mother such strength and love but she still missed her Mother's love. How lucky I have been to experience such unconditional love from my Mother in that "I could do no wrong in my Mother's eyes and heart." Ma Ma June's loving daughter, Diana