Author: JoAnn

I Love You!…by JoAnn

How often do you hear the words “I love you”?  

If you are in a romantic relationship, you probably hear those words daily.  Young love, or what feels like young love, seems to bring out, “I love you” with ease.  It’s when we are most expressive. It’s timely and fitting for the romance at the moment.   

If you have been married for many years, you may rarely hear I love you.  Lol, the well-known “honeymoon stage” has long since passed and has been filled with kids, bills, and a lot of hard work.  It’s not that the love is gone, there just doesn’t seem to be a reason to speak it verbally anymore.  After all, you made a lifelong commitment to your spouse, and you are still there. So, you love them. Why say it?  Naturally, I am making light of a quandary many couples fall into.    

If you are a single parent, hearing “I love you” from a significant other may be just a memory.  You may however draw energy from those three brief words each time they cross your child’s lips.  A child can quickly soften the stress from a long, hard day by saying I love you at bedtime.

But what if you live alone and there’s no one to utter those precious words?  I have lived alone for many years and my children are grown with families of their own.  There is no “significant other” in my life, so I have gotten used to going days, or even weeks, without hearing someone’s voice say, ever so sweetly, “I love you”.  When I hear those words, they mean a lot more to me now and I no longer take them for granted.  

I know the importance of saying those words better now.  When I tell one of my grandchildren, “I love you”, I want those words to stay in their hearts forever.  I know they will need to hold on to that love in tough times.  I want them to always know that love is there for them, no matter what.  Just as I did with my children.

Yes, there are many ways to show love and they are just as important as saying it.  But this missive is about verbalizing the actual words.  There is something to be said for someone opening up their heart, letting go of their inhibitions, and speaking words of affirmation.  To hear the words out loud has a healing affect, whether it be on a child, a friend, a parent, a spouse, or a partner.  Hearing “I love” you can open a door to forgiveness, feelings of self-worth, and relieve many anxieties in life.  

So, how long has it been since you told someone you love them?  Never underestimate the power of saying it and never miss an opportunity to do so. I believe this quote expresses it perfectly: “Time is like a river.  You cannot touch the same water twice, because the flow that has passed will never pass again.”… unknown

Hello Darlin’ by JoAnn

When I was a little girl in the 1960’s, I spent a lot of time following my daddy around as he did his daily chores and worked our family farm.  Mama would send me outside to play, but watching daddy was much more interesting to me.  I’m sure it may have been more that I pestered him at times and slowed down his work.  

One day, hoping to guide my attention in another direction, Daddy let me borrow his little transistor radio.  He carried the little black radio with the 9-volt battery in his front shirt pocket whenever he was outside working.  I knew it was important to him but did not understand why.  Until he let me borrow it for a day.  

Even at a young age, the music that came from this little invention took me away.  It fed my imagination and soothed and entertained me.  It was great!  From then on, I would beg my daddy to borrow his little transistor radio any time I was outside.  Till finally one day, he gave me one of my own.  Later on, in my teenage years, that little radio would be placed under my pillow at night, and I would fall asleep to the music of the 1970s.  When I hear one of those songs now, I am immediately transported back in time.

I never grew out of my love for a simple radio.  I think I have my daddy to thank for that.  Later on in his life Daddy graduated to a larger portable radio exactly like the one pictured.   That radio was always in my parents’ home.  Even my children remember this radio well.  It would be on the bathroom shelf for my dad to listen to the daily news as he shaved every morning.  It would be on the back porch for him to hear the mid-day news at lunchtime.  It would be on the porch in the evening for whatever ballgame he was interested in.  And it was always available to play music.  

One of Daddy’s favorite things to do when he was listening to music, was to call the radio station and request a particular song to be played and dedicated to my Mama.  Then he would carry the radio to wherever she might be and beg her to listen.  Mama wasn’t as interested in the radio as Daddy and often times she would just smile and go about whatever she was doing.  Sometimes she would be downright annoyed that he was bothering her again with that silly radio.  I remember her complaining to him to please stop putting their names on the radio!  People would think they were crazy.  But sometimes she would stop and humor him.  This would usually end in a little kiss.  Looking back now, I see it was a challenging game for my dad.  Could he break the ice and warm Mama’s heart up, or would she shoot him down again? 

My daddy’s favorite song to request for my mama was Conway Twitty’s “Hello Darlin’ “.  It was a favorite of his, and he would often sing it around the house.  My dad had a booming, strong voice and could sing beautifully.  I always felt it was such a shame he never sang in a church choir or a quartet.  He also would have made an excellent radio DJ.  

A lot of people never saw this side of my daddy!  They only saw the 6 ft., 250 lb. veteran who was known to have a blunt voice, and a hot temper.  I am thankful I got to see the sweet and loving side that was so precious.  No wonder my mama and daddy were married for over 50 years. 

Simple Things

I belong to a group on Facebook named “I Remember The 70s”.  Most of the members were born in the 50s & 60s, I was born in 1962.  It is a purely “Positive Post Only” group and I enjoy the posts that people share in this group, as they almost always bring back a fun memory of my childhood and school years.  They show photos of old metal lunch boxes, asking which one did everyone have (mine was a plain red plaid one).  I never got one with a cool cartoon like Bugs Bunny, or a television show like The Brady Bunch added.  They must have been too expensive for my mama’s school budget back then.  Photos of old toys, like dolls and board games are posted, asking if we had one or remembered the advertisement for them…you get the picture.  

This week someone made a post about how children of the 70s are the last kids who will ever remember certain things.  Listed were things like leaving our home in the morning to go out and play, not returning until the streetlights came on.  Never worrying about being abducted or bored, riding our bikes all over our neighborhood and being unconcerned about safety (we walked and rode our bikes wherever we went). We spent our pastime playing card games like Old Maid, Go Fish, and board games like Trouble, Mystery Date, and Checkers.  Everyone spent hours playing Hopscotch, jump rope, and Jacks.  A big day for us was when we had some coins to spend on ice cream or a glass bottled soda pop at the corner store.  

That post got me thinking of how different things are now for my grandchildren, and it made me sad that they will never know some of the simplest pleasures in life that I grew up with.  Things like the need for a transistor radio, because now music is on their fancy smart phones and available any time and any place they want it.  They will never have a desire to collect record albums just for their covers and know the joy of taking them to a friend’s house to listen to or trade on a Saturday night.  Most will never know the excitement and anticipation of getting a new bicycle, and using it until it was worn slam out.  They will never know the importance of carrying change in their pocket to make a phone call on a pay phone.  Even sadder to me is that they will never know the feeling of security we had in our own homes.  Windows were left open all night, and front doors and cars were seldom locked. 

The majority of our children today, in my opinion, have never written a letter with ink and paper as a form of communication or friendship.  I remember having pen pals as a kid.  We had want ads for pen pals posted in the back of magazines.  We felt perfectly safe having our addresses printed for all the world to see and never even imagined that a bad person would answer those ads.  

Getting our picture taken was an ordeal.  We got dressed in our best clothes and went to a photographer to have a professional shot taken.  Now a “Selfie” is a part of everyday life for our kids.  Taking home videos meant a parent taking an awkward home movie camera out of a case and making poorly lit and shaky films of family life.  Now every minute of every day can easily be filmed with the touch of a tiny button.

I wish I could magically take my grandchildren back to my childhood and let them experience some of the wonderful things that were left back there.  Like being dropped off at the public pool on a hot summer day, or the skating rink, without a care in the world.  Being perfectly safe for hours until my dad would pick us up.  I would like to take them for a ride in the country with the windows rolled down, listening to music on the car radio, stopping along the roadside to enjoy a homemade picnic lunch at one of the many picnic tables that used to be available.  

Maybe this crazy year of 2020 has me feeling too nostalgic.  Maybe this year will make other people realize how important more simpler times were.  They weren’t always old fashioned and not good enough.  Sometimes they were just right!   


Under The Walnut Trees …By JoAnn

I can describe summers in the South in one word…hot!  

Back in the 1960s, air conditioning was only a dream to rural families, so it was usually a little cooler outdoors on a front porch, or especially under the shade of a nice old tree.

Growing up in Tennessee, playing outside from dawn to dusk was a daily routine in the summer months.  My sister and I spent many hours playing in the shade generously offered from the woods that surrounded our mountain top home.  The only breaks taken were for a much-welcomed meal, or a trip to the little red outhouse.  

There were a vast variety of trees on our 11-acre property.  My favorites were beautiful Pines, Dogwoods, Apple, Peach, and Mimosa.  There was even a Persimmon tree that my mama loved.  I adored sitting under my favorite pine tree in the front yard, reading many a book from cover to cover.  

Most of these trees were ancient.  Two of the oldest were two Black Walnut trees, growing side by side, near our backdoor.  They were huge!  And gave us a delicious supply of meaty Black Walnuts every year.  They were a treasure to my dad, and Black Walnuts were his favorite nut.

Those Black Walnut trees offered shade for a lot of activities.  My mama had a clothesline there, just for clothes she wanted to shield from the sun.  My mama sat under those trees to snap fresh green beans from her garden, that she would later freeze or can for us to eat on all winter.  My sister and I often helped, along with shucking many ears of corn.  My least favorite of the two.  Still is.  My daddy loved to stretch out on his aluminum, webbed chaise lounge, after a long day of working in the garden, or weeding the property with a sickle.  No such thing as a weed eater back then. 

One of the most memorable activities that went on under those Black Walnut trees has to be my mama killing chickens.  I know that sounds violent, but on a farm, chickens aren’t just for eggs.  They are also for fried chicken dinners!  I have a vivid memory of being around age 4 and seeing Mama wringing a chicken’s neck, chopping the head off with an ax, and then plucking it of all its feathers.  I was afraid of chickens because they always seemed to chase me.  So, I guess this gruesome scene wasn’t so bad to me.  But that changed when Mama cut one of the chicken’s head off and the chicken got away from her.  It went running around the yard…well…like a chicken with its head cut off!  And you guessed correct; it ran straight for me!  To say it terrified me to my core would be an understatement.  I imagine it took quite some time for Mama to calm me down.  From then on, she somehow kept chicken day a very private activity.  

Unfortunately, times got tough financially for my parents one year, and my daddy had to make a tough decision.  He called a local furniture company and asked if it would interest them in his old Black Walnut trees.  They came out and jumped at the chance to purchase the tall beauties.  I remember the day they were cut down.  It was one of the rare times growing up that I saw my Daddy cry.  My dad was a big, brawny man, but he loved dearly every little thing on our homestead and took great pride in it all.

On a brighter note, fried chicken remains one of my favorite foods. As a child I just never connected the chickens my mama killed with the ones in the freezer, or the fried pieces on my plate.  Lol.   

School Clothes

By JoAnn

As a little girl in the 1960s and 70s, I would best describe my life as humble. My favorite television show back then was The Brady Bunch. I can accurately say that our family life was the exact opposite of the Brady family. I lived in a very rural setting for the first 11 years of my life. I could not imagine a big, modern brick home with an upstairs and wall to wall carpet. I had seen nothing close to that with my own eyes. Not to mention the beautiful modern clothes that the Brady sisters wore daily. I could only assume that the show was based on a fairy tale. Looking back, I think it was healthier for me to not know what I was missing and remain content in my world. 

  Being a mother of three daughters myself, I can understand how my mama must have felt when it came to the needs of her 2 little girls. She rarely had the money for anything brand new for us to wear. Usually, new clothes were bought once a year, at the beginning of the new school year. And yes, these outfits lasted the entire school year. That being said, many times did my mama buy a dress that was too long so it could grow with me. She would hem it and let it out and re-hem as needed. The same with pants. I did not mind the dresses being hemmed so much, but it was much more noticeable on the pants. I hated that and felt some embarrassment wearing them.  

   I remember one pair of new pants that I had in third grade. They were lime green, my favorite color, and stretch polyester. Very much in style at that time. They fit well and were extremely comfortable. One day after school, I boarded the school bus and when I sat down, I sat in someone’s used bubble gum. It horrified me. I tried and tried to remove the gum, but it was stuck to the weave of that polyester material like glue. That gum and polyester had become one! I remember telling my mama. Her reaction was that they are brand new pants and still must do me for the rest of the school year. Yes, that meant I had to wear them anyway. Gum spot and all. And I did. Many times, until I either outgrew them, or I wore them out. I admit, I felt embarrassed each time. I never forgot that gum was there. I did however learn a valuable lesson, to look before I sit down! 

   I guess some would think my mother was mean for making me wear those lime green pants with a gum stain, and I probably felt it was unfair every time I wore them. But now, after raising my own children, and struggling to clothe them, I am a lot more understanding of my mother’s choices.  

   I remember in the summer; new clothes were even more rare. It did not really matter if we wore clothes from the previous Summer, my sister and I spent 95% of our time playing at home on our spacious 11 acres. No one cared if our shorts were too short or too tight. Or that I was wearing my big sister’s hand-me-downs. But sometimes we just needed Summer clothes. I remember a couple Summers when the Salvation Army moved into a vacant warehouse downtown. They filled the immense space with racks and racks of clothes. There were hundreds of items.  

   Now my mother had a lot of pride. She did not mind wearing a hand-me-down, but she did not want anyone to know it was a hand-me-down. She would walk down the street where the warehouse was located and check out every customer in the store across the street, in the warehouse, walking down that street, to check if she saw anyone she knew. When she felt sure the coast was clear, she would say “Come on!”  We knew to run as fast as we could up the ramp and through the doors of the warehouse.  

   I can still remember the smell of that Salvation Army warehouse. It was a mixture of mothballs, and a musty old house smell. It was dark because they did not have electricity for lights. It made it difficult to look through the racks of clothes. My mama always went into a smaller room where children’s clothes were piled up in bins. She was never interested in the hanging clothes. I assume they were all adult. Usually, she might find one item for either me or my sister. I remember vaguely a pair of shorts.  

   Shoes were a whole other problem growing up. And you guessed it, we would buy them with extra room in the toes so my feet could grow into them. I would stuff tissue paper in the toe until then. When I was in elementary school, there were several charities that would treat needy children to a new pair of shoes once a year. They chose me about 3 times for this. I felt embarrassed at first, but once I got those new shoes in my hands, it melted away.  

    I do not remember my Dad ever voicing an opinion on these charities or Mama’s thrifting. I wonder now if he was even aware. I can see where maybe he would not have been okay with it all. And my mama was superb at keeping things a secret. Not meaning any harm, but just to keep the boat steady. I can look back now, 50 years later, and see the many things that Mama did to make things “work”. The sacrifices she often made, just so me or my sister could have more of what she thought we deserved. Whether it was school clothes and Christmas gifts being put on layaway or ducking into the old Salvation Army thrift store. 

   Later in life, thrift stores became popular. My mama thoroughly enjoyed that. I took after her and have always loved thrift shopping. Not always so much for need anymore, but for the fun of it. Finding a huge bargain is fun! And now in 2020, you are just downright wasteful if you do not re-use items to avoid them being thrown into a dump somewhere. I think my mother would be in her element if she were alive today. Thanks for all the school clothes Mama.