Category: JoAnn

Laundry Day

How many of you grew up with your family’s laundry being hung outside to dry?  I imagine several hands are going up.  It’s a nice memory.  Remember the breeze blowing those cotton sheets in the fresh air, and how those sheets felt and smelled on our beds that night?  Oh, it was wonderful!  An electric dryer has never been invented to duplicate it.

But how many of you remember what happened before the clothesline.  When the laundry was washed, it brought back an entirely distinct memory.  That memory would be filled with some elbow grease, sweat, and tired muscles.  Not to forget the time needed to wash enough laundry for a family of five like mine, or even bigger.     

I remember well my mama washing our laundry in what they called a wringer washing machine.  It was electric but needed a lot of physical help from the user to get the laundry washed.  She was proud to have it though, because without it, she had to wash every piece of laundry by hand in a washtub!  I remember well her excitement when Daddy brought home the used wringer washer.  No longer did she have to deal with bending over that big washtub outside.  She could use the electric wringer on the back porch.  I remember her specifically telling my sister and me to keep our hands away from the wringer part as not to mash our fingers.  But we would help her with the wet clothes.  No matter how much she put items through the wringer part, it never wrung out enough water.  So, the laundry would be dripping wet, which made it heavy to carry outside to the clothesline.  Then it took some muscle to hang everything on the line.  Especially sheets.  It was horrible if something got dropped into the dirt below.  As wet as it was, it would be muddy by the time I picked it up, and it would need to be washed again. 

Most homemakers had specific days of the week that were designated laundry days.  My mama washed on Monday and Thursday.  On laundry days she would push other chores aside to allow the time needed to get all the laundry caught up.  Supper that evening would either be something that could simmer all day, like soup or beans.  Or a quick meal like fried potatoes and cornbread.

One morning, when I was around 4 years old, my mama was hanging laundry on the clothesline as I played nearby.  Suddenly she screamed.  She had stepped on a rusty nail that had been in the ground.  She was only wearing thin flip flops, and that nail had gone all the way through her foot!  As she cried in pain, she made the huge mistake of pulling the rusty nail out of her foot.  Of course, it bled heavily when she did that.  She yelled for me to go in the house and get her a towel.  My legs were like two wet noodles.  I was so nervous for her and didn’t know how to help.  I took her a small hand towel, which of course wasn’t enough, so she sent me back for a bath towel.  She wrapped it around her foot and somehow made it into the house to call for help.  I remember the towel being soaked with blood.  That is my last memory of what happened that day.  I don’t remember who came to help Mama, or who took care of me.  It must have been traumatic, and it has since been locked away somewhere in my brain.  Thank God she did get the help she needed, and a Tetanus shot.  Daddy cleaned thoroughly around the clothes lines.  I remember Mama’s foot being sore and her needing to prop it up on a pillow.

Fast forward about six years, and we are now living in a big city where my daddy had to go to find work.  The old wringer washer was no longer with us.  We now lived in an old 1930s home that was renovated into a duplex for renters.  We had the upstairs apartment.  Unfortunately, Mama had to go back to her old ways of hand washing all the laundry.  She used the old, and deep, claw-foot bathtub.  This had to have been extremely difficult for her.  Not only was she washing our clothes, sheets, and towels, but also Daddy’s greasy and soot covered heavy work clothes.  I remember they seemed to be soaking in the tub all day, every day, in hopes to get them clean enough.  

Sadly, a couple years before we moved to the city, my mama had experienced symptoms of Arthritis.  Hand washing laundry every day in a bathtub, then carrying it down a flight of stairs to hang on the clotheslines in the backyard, quickly took its toll on her hands and knees.  That is when Daddy got Mama her very first automatic washer from Sears.  My mama was in love with that machine!  Never in her life had laundry been so easy to do.  Soon she had a dryer to match.  Many years later, when Daddy retired from that job, he and Mama moved back to our country home.  That Sears washer went with them and continued to work for many years to come.  It must have been over 30 years old before it needed to be replaced. 

I have always been very thankful to have the convenience of a good working washing machine!  I think watching my mama work so hard on laundry was enough for me.  I never had the desire to repeat her plight, but I know how to if it’s needed, and have washed a few things out by hand when necessary.  Just goes to show, you’re never above your raising.      


A Perfect Fall Day

This year, our summer here in Northwest Tennessee, was extremely unforgiving.  Our hot temperatures broke records.  I honestly thought it would never end.  But thankfully it did end, and we are now in the full bloom of Fall.

Fall has always been my favorite season.  I love the chilly, crisp air in the morning and my favorite old sweater.  I love the bounty of pumpkins and brightly colored trees.  The sun no longer burns but warms like a comforting bath.  

The smells in the air are like none other the entire year.  There is a distinctness to the smell of falling leaves and dried vegetation being mixed with the coolness of the air.  Add the fragrance of a pile of leaves and tree trimmings being burned in someone’s back yard, and it’s a recipe for only one thing, Fall.

One of my favorite things to do is to take a drive on the back roads of my rural town.  Fall is the most beautiful time of year to do so.  It’s still warm enough to have my window rolled down so I can enjoy the fresh air.  A sunny day is of course my favorite, but I also enjoy a cloudy day as well.  The view can change drastically when a little dampness is added.  When I was younger, I enjoyed taking photographs.  I loved to play with the changes in light and texture on a Fall day. 

Last week I took a long drive around my area.  There are a lot of small towns clustered together where I live.  You have no choice but to drive scenic back roads to and from either town.  I am not complaining!  It is a blessing indeed.

As I was driving, I caught a whiff of wood and leaves burning.  Oh, that smell!  It took me back to one of my favorite childhood memories of coming home from school on a sunny Fall afternoon.  Playing outside while my daddy burned leaves and brush after cleaning our yard for the last time of the year.  Knowing my mama was inside making a delicious hot meal for us all to enjoy when it was supper time.  My sister and I would play until the sun went down and it would become too cold to be outdoors.  

I have a lot of fond memories of those Fall evenings, and my family around the table afterwards.  I don’t remember so much of what happened after supper.  My guess is I fell asleep on time those nights, maybe even early, and slept hard till morning.  

This year I have paid more attention to my favorite season and enjoy it more like a kid, noticing the pumpkins on my neighbor’s doorstep and how red their tree is this year.  Maybe I’ll rise a little earlier just to catch the sunrise through the misty fog and how it plays against the Autumn colors.  Take a drive at sunset to see what differences the lighting makes.  Take a walk in the park and notice the variety of smells as I take in a deep breath. 

Here’s hoping you are enjoying your Fall in whatever corner of the world you live.  May your blessings be bountiful.

On a sunny day, it seems the world is alive with color.  

Trick or Treat …by JoAnn

 There is a chill in the air and the familiar smell of Fall is finally here!  I don’t know if it was the madness of 2020, but this Summer seemed to last forever.  I thought the hot temperatures and high humidity would never end.

With cool temps comes the promise of the first winter holiday, Halloween.  Whether or not you celebrate Halloween, admit that this time of year is festive.  The beautiful Fall colors are in their glory, the sun is shining, but there is a crispness in the air that brings out our favorite sweater.  It’s just a wonderful season, and Halloween fits right in.

I remember as a kid in the 1960s, Halloween was about two things.  A costume and trick or treating for free candy.  My mama did not sew but she was very talented in the kitchen, gardening, and many other things.  However, she never had the knack for using a sewing machine.  That meant any costumes would be store bought or improvised.  Since money was usually tight, a mask was our one and only choice in the store-bought category.  I remember having several masks and they included; Casper the Friendly Ghost, a witch, and a Gorilla.  Why I wanted the Gorilla, I do not understand.  It was pretty ugly, but I loved it. 

Since we lived in Northeast Tennessee, the weather was usually cold by Halloween.  So, we didn’t worry so much about a costume as we did a warm coat, which worked out great for us.  As long as we had our mask, we were good.  Our daddy was always the one who would take my sister and me to trick or treat.  We would go into town, where neighborhoods had homes close to each other with sidewalks.  It was so very exciting for us!  My sister and I did not get sweets daily, so getting free candy was magical.  I didn’t care what kind of candy it was, anything with sugar would do 😊!  

I remember one particular house that we would visit each Halloween.  In it lived an elderly lady and her rather peculiar adult daughter.  They always gave us peanut butter and saltine crackers that they had made themselves and wrapped in wax paper.  For some reason, I just could not choke down one of those crackers.  My daddy kept telling me that the ladies were nice, and that we should be thankful they had shared what they had with us.  I knew he was right, but my taste buds always told me otherwise.  I remember Daddy eating one to show us that they were good.  It didn’t help 😊.  He continued to take us back to their house every Halloween and I believe he was trying to teach us a lesson about people being different and that it’s okay.  I didn’t learn the lesson then, but I did when I was a little older, and I never forgot those two ladies or those peanut butter crackers.  It’s probably safe to say that I remember them every Halloween.  Thanks daddy.

When the day came that I had kids of my own, Halloween lost its magic and became more of a chore for me.  Indulging them with store bought costumes that I never got as a kid or trying to be a good mommy and make one for them, was more stress than fun for me.  We usually had to sacrifice to pay for a store costume, and like my mama, I had no talent for sewing.  I could come up with some pretty cute ideas using every day household items like hair curlers, makeup, old robes, and fuzzy slippers to make my daughters Robin and Christine an overworked housewife.  They looked adorable but weren’t as happy as they would have been with a real costume.  

I do think my kids had as much, or more fun than I did on their Halloweens.  Except for the years that we attended a church that did not believe in the holiday being celebrated.  Then Halloween was replaced with Fall Festivals, which were fun, and some even encouraged the kids to wear costumes.  Non-Halloween costumes of course.  There would be a bonfire, roasted marshmallows, hot dogs, free candy, and games but my kids were always sad if they didn’t get to trick or treat. 

By the time my youngest was about 8 years old, her older sisters had outgrown trick or treating.  I decided to let her choose if she wanted a Fall Festival or a traditional Halloween.  This mama was quite tired of the whole ordeal, and just wanted her little girl to be happy.  Being the intelligent and creative girl my Chelsea has always been, she chose both!  So, we attended the church’s festival, and she created her own costume, and I took her trick or treating.  

Truth be told, I kinda got burned-out on Halloween when my daughters were growing up.  I enjoyed watching my grand babies go trick or treating for the first time, but lost interest after that.  Does that make me a bad grandma, or just a burned-out mom still?  Who knows?  But I still cherish all of the memories and they are more fun to me now than when they were happening.  Our kids grow up way too fast, and it helps to reminisce and laugh about the successes and the failures.

Happy Halloween all.     

Make a Wish!


When you were a kid, and blew out the candles on your birthday cake, were you told to make a wish?  I think all of us were and there began the concept of wishful thinking.

As a child, to wish for whatever you want, merely by believing it could come true, was entertaining and satisfying.  Only to then feel a harsh let down when the wish was denied.  It would be a hard lesson for learning the true meaning of making a wish.  

When I was a kid in the 1960s, even the Sears Christmas catalog was called the “Wish Book”.  We had television shows like “I Dream of Jeanie”, and “Bewitched” telling us that magic could make wishes come true.  And then there was Santa Claus, with every child back then believing in Santa!  He was the most magical of all because he could make any wish come true.  It all seemed quite innocent and fun at the time. 

The Google dictionary explains the meaning of the word “wish,” this way: “to feel or express a strong desire or hope for something that is not easily attainable; to want something that cannot or probably will not happen.”

It was a rather harsh reality to realize that wishing was just role playing a fantasy.  To truly make a wish reality, you had to put some hard work into it.  It was not free.  You had to make that wish come true yourself.  We could wish all day long but would see nothing happen unless we got up and did it ourselves. 

I guess all loving parents want their children to believe the world is full of wonder, and at their fingertips.  They want their children to feel as though anything good in life is possible.  I don’t believe parents mean to set their kids up for disappointment with wishing.  I believe they are only trying to give their child a positive outlook.  Or something to look forward to, as with Santa Claus.

As entertaining as it might be to wish I would win millions in the lottery, I would waste my time and energy doing so.  I’m not so sure I want to encourage my grandchildren to wish for things.  I believe I want them to dream, and to know that dreams come true for those that work toward making that dream come true.  

Next time I catch myself beginning a sentence with “I wish”, I will stop myself in my tracks.  Wishes cannot be granted, but dreams can be built.

What A Year!

….by JoAnn

This morning, as I watch the news on television, and then read the news on my laptop, I am overwhelmed with emotion.  2020 has certainly been a year most of us hope we can forget!  Covid-19 started out the year and quickly turned our sense of normalcy upside down.  Heart wrenching violence quickly followed, leading to months of protests in almost every major city.  Today, I watched the horrifying images of the Western states literally on fire.  The entire states of California, Oregon, and Washington State appear to be in flames when looking at a map showing a marker for each fire location.  Which, at last count that I heard, was over 77 fires.  And, we can’t forget the overly active hurricane season we’ve had as well.  

Human lives, homes, businesses, and jobs have been lost for each of the 2020 tragedies I’ve mentioned.  I can only imagine the many individuals and families struggling and desperate.  Unfortunately, we have a few months left to go this year, and I think most of us are wondering what else could possibly go wrong.  I’m sure just as many are hoping and praying that 2021 will bring an end to all the turmoil, we have seen this year.

I am a person of deep faith, and a mother who raised her children to always count their blessings no matter what the situation.  So, I ask myself today, what blessings have come out of 2020.  It may take some digging to get past all of the sadness of this historical year, but I believe everyone can find a reason to be thankful.

I for one am extremely grateful to have a safe, comfortable roof over my head.  With plenty of food, clean running water, and electricity to keep me cool in the summer, and warm in the winter.  I shudder to think of all the people who are, or will be, struggling with those most basic needs this year, and probably into next year as well. 

I am also so very grateful for the loved ones in my life that are truly there for me, no matter what.  Even though I may not be able to see them in person, because of Covid-19 and/or distance, not a day goes by that I don’t need them!  For now, I am happy to hug them if only in my heart, just to know they are safe and still in my life.  

I am thankful for my faith in God, and the comfort and peace that faith gives me in turbulent times.  I know I have grown even closer to Him in 2020.  I imagine many others have as well.  I believe in the positive power of prayer, and my prayers have been plentiful this year. 

I realize that 2020 will not magically turn back to what we know as normal at the stroke of midnight on the eve of 2021, but I do have hopes that we will see positive improvements by then.  No matter what happens, I have been shown without a doubt this year, that there are still superb people in this world.  A tragedy has a way of sifting all the good from the bad and making it easy to distinguish who is who.  

I will continue to be more thankful for what I have and worry less about what I don’t.  I will continue to look for any flicker of light at the end of this long dark tunnel in which we seem to travel.  Hoping for the best outcome for every one of us.  Some may think I am being unrealistic, or downright silly.  No, I have kept a positive attitude.  Even if that means counting my blessings one by one daily, to keep my head up.

Here is hoping each of you can find a blessing for yourself today.   Or better yet, be one to someone else.   After all, we are all in this together.